BOOK REVIEW: Takedown, by John Jackson Miller

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takedown.jpg

Era: Post-Nemesis

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 353

Publication Date: 2015

Verdict: 4/5

 

Admiral Riker has gone rogue. Commandeering the USS Aventine, he launches a series of strikes against allies of the Federation. But what has prompted this shocking betrayal of duty? And can even his mentor Jean-Luc Picard hope to stop the madness . . ?

This book may fall under the Next Generation label, but that’s not wholly accurate. Picard and the Enterprise do play a large part in Takedown, but it’s equally a continuation of the Titan series, featuring as it does William Riker as the main character (and main villain for that matter). But the crossover doesn’t stop there. Because this is also (I believe) the final pre-Coda appearance of Captain Ezri Dax and the Aventine. Three crews (from three series) makes for a very packed book, especially when you throw in the small matter of ongoing frostiness between the Federation and the Typhon Pact.

After three large series (Destiny, Typhon Pact, The Fall) that have taken a toll on both setting and characters, I came to Takedown hoping for something a little bit lighter. And I got what I wanted. Though it helps to know the characters beforehand, this is a standalone novel. Yes, it builds on the political restructuring of the Trek universe that has gone before, but the background is just that. Background. Takedown doesn’t delve too deeply into the political side of things. Instead it offers just what I’d hoped to find. A fast-paced, phasers-blazing adventure.

The plot has its twists and turns, but is generally a lot more straightforward than the Ishan Anjar conspiracy at the heart of The Fall. With Riker acting so out of character, it’s obvious that there is more going on than we can see.  But knowing that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. Takedown follows the classic format of strike and counter-strike between two of Star Trek‘s most recognisable characters, each trying to out-think the other. Master and Commander is far from the worst comparison that could be made.

On the face of it then, this is a loud and proud action-heavy book. But this is still Star Trek, and the action is not for its own sake, but serves to illuminate the big questions. How far can you stretch the bonds of trust before they break? And is a peace fragile enough for one man to break truly a peace at all? Takedown also ties into a Next Generation episode that would spoil the book if I were to reveal its title. While I think the Litverse (and Star Trek as a whole) is sometimes in danger of becoming overly reliant on connections to the past, Miller works the episode and book together very convincingly. it’s not the gimmicky reference that we sometimes get, but a satisfying follow-up to a story that still had potential left in it. I don’t know how the book would play out for someone who hasn’t seen the episode in question, but aside from the one reveal, i think it work perfectly fine on its own.

Takedown is just what I needed to reinvigorate my Star Trek reading. It may not be the biggest or most important story, but it is a good, well told.

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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