Series: Titan (#9)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2017
Two decades since their destruction, the technological legacy of the Husnock threatens Galactic peace. As numerous factions fight over the remnants of the Husnock, Admiral Riker tries to avert disaster . . .
The final book in the Titan series is one of the best. Across these nine novels, the series has dipped its toes in a lot of genres. Social science fiction and space opera go hand in hand in all of Star Trek‘s forms, and Titan is no different. We’ve also had a time-travel novel, elements of cosmic horror, a little bit of humour, a dash of military SF, and even the odd spot of romance. Fortune of War goes all-in on the space opera angle, delivering non-stop action and adventure.
After the crew shake-up of the previous novel, things have settled down a little bit. New XO Sarai takes a more prominent role here, following on from the revelation that she is a spy tasked by Starfleet Intelligence to monitor Riker. With this being the end of the Titan line, there are parts of this particular arc that set up a future that I’m not sure we’ll ever see. That’s no real knock against this novel, just an observation that any long-running franchise will have a few loose threads by the end. It’s possible this is picked up on in non-Titan novels, but I don’t know for certain. The final fracturing of Pazlar and Ra-Havreii’s relationship also takes place here, resolving an on/off story-line that’s been going on for a long while now. There’s a lot of nice character-work in this, although it’s largely secondary to the action.
There is a lot going on this novel. The first half skips from one group investigating the Husnock to the next. We have Ferengi (including a triumphant return for Brunt, formerly of the FCA and now a bounty hunter), Pakleds (more favourably presented than their modern animated counterparts), Orions, Federation scientists, Nausicaans, and the Breen. Like I say: A lot. Mack writes all of these species with typical rapid grace. yes, these species are familiar to those who have watched a lot of Star Trek, but Mack makes each one distinctive enough that you don’t need any of that prior knowledge. Even the Husnock – as seen briefly in the beginning – have a destruction tied to an episode of The Next Generation. But you don’t need to have seen that episode to enjoy the book. Although it includes elements from a lot of prior stories, Fortune of War is not reliant on that context for a full enjoyment of the book. It’s a masterclass on including and referencing other works without drowning in them.
Fortune of War is a lightning-paced novel in which starships chase each other across space and suns are destroyed by ancient weaponry. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to read it as quickly as you can just so you don’t have to put the book down. Yes there are twists and turns and uncertain allegiances, but it’s still a fairly straightforward story. You know who the good guys and bad guys are, even if there’s a little confusion among the villains as to who can be trusted. This might not be a book that gets you thinking, but it’s a fun final ride for the Titan.
Titan has been the backbone of the Litverse for a decade and a half, and Fortune of War sums up brilliantly all of its best aspects. If any novel series is the true inheritor of Star Trek, it’s Titan. Great characters, great stories, and most of all, great entertainment.