BOOK REVIEW: Brinkmanship, by Una McCormack

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Brinkmanship.jpg

Era: Post-Nemesis

Series: Typhon Pact (#7)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 334

Publication Date: 2012

Verdict: 4/5

 

The independent territory of the Venette Convention becomes the latest flash-point in the cold war between the Federation and the Typhon Pact. Yet while evidence mounts that the Pact intends to start open hostilities, the Federation is no less belligerent . . .

Brinkmanship brings the Typhon Pact series to an end with both a bang and a whimper. I have no problem in saying that this is my favourite book in the series. Una McCormack is one of the most consistently strong authors Star Trek has in its hands, and Brinkmanship is a fine display of her talent. As a standalone story, it’s magnificent. But as the conclusion of a long series,it does eave me less than satisfied.

Brinkmanship takes place over the course of three weeks and deals with the crews of both the Enterprise and the Aventine, as well as secret agents of both the Federation and Cardassia. Despite this, it’s paced like lightning. There are no lulls here as we’ve seen in previous novels. All the momentum is forwards, and even the slower sections are fraught with tension. It’s refreshing to have Picard taking to the negotiating table as the main story rather than the split between familiar crews and politics we’ve seen elsewhere. I was also pleasantly surprised by the central role taken by Beverly Crusher, who even if the novels has felt underused, though I have admittedly not read many of the Next Generation novels. The rest of the crew don’t get much of a look-in, but it helps keep a tighter focus on Picard and Crusher, emphasising how truly in the dark they are about the true goals of the negotiators.

But where this book really shines is on the Aventine. Captain Ezri Dax is one of the best ideas the Litverse ever had, taking one of my favourite characters and sending them on a completely new trajectory that nevertheless feels entirely natural for the character. It’s a shame that there was never an Aventine series, because every appearance of this ship and its crew has been great. No longer in the shadow of Jadzia, Ezri gets to stand out as a character in her own right. In Brinkmanship, she also gets the lion’s share of the action, getting involved in high stakes espionage on the front line of a potential war. McCormack deftly ties in Dax’s present as a captain and Ezri’s past as a counsellor in way that could only work for this character.

However, Brinkmanship has a problem in common with the rest of the Typhon Pact series. When all is said and done, nothing much has changed after the end of this book. This series has been great at shining a light on some of Star Trek‘s greatest antagonistic species. But aside from Andor’s secession from the Federation, the whole series has been dedicated to maintaining the status quo. There’s no victory on either side, and one or two moments aside, seven books on we’re almost exactly where we started. I can’t help but feel this was a squandered opportunity to truly shake up the universe. Obviously, the Typhon Pact is still around, and will be around in future books, but within this series there’s very little real change.

Like the majority of this series, Brinkmanship is a strong novel that highlights both individual characters and the larger galactic political picture, but the Typhon Pact series has ended up being less than the sum of its parts. An impressive feat for the work of so many authors, but not what it could perhaps have been.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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