Series: The Fall (#5)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2014
President pro tem Ishan Anjar threatens to take the Federation into the darkest point of its history. But is the President all he appears to be, or are the sins of the past about to be cast into the light . . .
Reading a complete series in one go, without sliding unrelated book in between volumes, is something I haven’t done for a long while. As a general rule, I like to read in a less ordered fashion to keep things fresh. This is especially true of my 2021 readthrough of the Star Trek Litverse. With sixty Litverse books in my reading plan for the year, I knew I didn’t want to get bogged down. For large parts of the year I’ve been alternating Star trek books with unrelated works, and it has stopped me from growing fatigued with Star Trek fiction. I made an exception for David Mack’s Destiny trilogy, and a second one for The Fall. The Fall was an experiment for me as I had not read beyond the first book before. But since the entire series takes place over a limited span of time (around two months) I thought following it more closely would be rewarding.
I was right. Though each book follows its own set of characters and its own dilemma, these are not standalones. You absolutely need to read prior books to get the most out of these. Seeds planted in the first book bear fruit here. The conspiracy at the heart of this series takes a lot of untangling, but a lot of that work is done here. In many ways, The Fall is the opposite of the Typhon Pact series, which it is a logical continuation of. This is a series driven by a single issue – the assassination of Nan Bacco – and though it is the work of five authors, it’s generally much more consistent than the preceding saga. Most importantly, it has a much more satisfying ending. I’ve spoken previously about my concerns that the Litverse canon becomes progressively grittier, but the ending of this novel sets up the promise of a return to Star Trek‘s optimistic roots in volumes to come. Yes, this is a dark book, but it marks the ending of that darkness.
That optimism pervades Peaceable Kingdoms. Page after page, we see people, from familiar faces to those we’ve never met before, choose to do the right thing. Yes, this is a political thriller, but its not a story of moral compromise. It’s a reminder that the Federation stands for something, and that we have to believe in what we stand for, and stand for what we believe in. Peaceable Kingdoms is an affirmation of the fundamental goodness of the human (and alien) spirit.
Pulling off this feat is a tricky proposition for any writer, and I don’t envy Dayton Ward the challenge. Ward, however, excels at the task, wrapping up every thread of the main series while still gifting the characters time to grow. His Picard is spot-on, from the concern he shows for his crew to the moral indignation at the situation he finds himself in. Again i feel my enjoyment of a book suffers a small amount due to my failure to keep up with the changing crew of the Enterprise-E, but that is a minor knock and doesn’t reflect on Ward’s writing at all. Even if there is more history than I have read, Ward fills in enough detail for the book to make sense if you only read the major crossover series.
Despite a rocky start, The Fall is up there with my favourite Star Trek series, and much of that is due to the conclusive and satisfying ending that Peaceable Kingdoms provides.