Series: Typhon Pact (#4)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2011
For generations, the Andorian people have faced a population crisis. In the wake of the Borg invasion, low birth rates could spell the end of their civilisation. As scientists and politicians meet to discuss the crisis, Picard and the Enterprise are sent to ensure all goes well . . .
The middle book of the Typhon Pact series breaks with the pattern established by the previous three. Rather than showcasing one of the Typhon Pact’s members, Paths of Disharmony focuses on one of the Federation’s founding members. Ever since I first saw Shran step into the monastery at P’Jem, I have adored the Andorians, and to this day they’re one of my favourite Star Trek aliens (although the Orions stand on the brink of eclipsing them). Aside from Enterprise, however, I haven’t come across them much in the tie-in fiction. So news that they’ve been battling low birth rates for two centuries came as something of a surprise.
Just as we’ve had Typhon Pact novels from the perspective of the Deep Space Nine and Titan crews, Paths of Disharmony is carried by faces from The Next Generation. Iconic though they are, the Enterprise-E crew are a group I’ve never been that invested in. In fact, it’s the newer faces on the ship such as T’Ryssa Chen and Jasminder Choudhury that hooked me. The ‘lower decks’ view they offer as the chief officers do their work. I will say, however, that Worf’s tenure as commanding officer of the Enterprise is a treasure to behold, and I hope we get more of this at some point, whatever form it may take.
Paths of Disharmony is one of the slower books in this readthrough, for both better and worse. On the positive side, this book deals with a lot of heavy politicking and moral issues, so it absolutely deserves its page count and the time taken. This book provides a truly momentous moment for not only this series, but also the larger Star Trek universe as a whole. The decisions made here have ramifications that will be felt for years and volumes to come. But while it deserves its weighty presence, Paths of Disharmony can and does grind to a halt, much like politics itself. There’s only so many political round-tables I can read, and even the riots and assassinations follow a cycle that only narrowly avoids repetition as the book goes on. With Picard and company taking a theoretically observational role, much of the plot progresses while they are elsewhere. In Worf’s case, this is for the better, as his encounters with terrorists are largely isolated from the issues on the ground, and are great reading in their own right. For those sucked into the sticky mire of Andorian politics, I have far less interest.
Though the Andorians are the focus, the Typhon Pact is represented here by the Tholians, a species the Litverse has a strong track record with. In fact, Paths of Disharmony has very strong ties to the previous Tholian outing, the Vanguard series. It’s impressive how well the two stories, set a century apart, are tied together. I suppose it helps that Ward is the author of both. nevertheless, this is a prime example of the Litverse using its interconnections to great effect. More impressive still when it appears the Vanguard series was unfinished at the time Paths of Disharmony was being written. It all brings the universe into a more cohesive whole, without shrinking the setting down to the same group of characters again and again.
Paths of Disharmony is a classic example of a slumping middle volume, but it is far from a bad book. Really, it’s better for what it does to the overarching Star Trek narrative than for how it stands on its own.