BOOK REVIEW: Old Wounds, by Christie Golden

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Rating: 4 out of 5.
  • Spirit Walk (#1)
  • Part of the Litverse
  • Focuses on the Voyager crew
  • Published by Pocket Books in 2004
  • A Space Opera
  • 273 pages

Under the command of newly-minted Captain Chakotay, Voyager returns to action. Their first mission is to relocate a group of colonists. But will Chakotay allow his Maquis past to influence his leadership, or will his first command be cut short by betrayal from within . . .

After an opening duology set on Earth, Spirit Walk is where Voyager lives up to its name. But aside from the fact that it’s got interplanetary travel, it’s all change for the ship and its crew. Janeway is now a deskbound Admiral. Tuvok is now a lecturer at Starfleet Academy Tom and B’Elanna are on the Klingon world of Boreth. The Doctor and Seven work in a think tank. Neelix is mentioned only in passing. All of this leaves Captain Chakotay and Lieutenant Kim (now head of security) as the only main characters from the show still serving on the titular starship. Given how these two characters were often underserved in the show, it’s no surprise that the best parts of the story are the parts that focus on them. Captain Chakotay in particular is at the most interesting his character has ever been, and it’s a shame we never got more of it.

Part of what makes Old Wounds work is how it mines the Maquis element of Voyager. The split between Maquis and Starfleet was a big part of the show’s build-up, but it essentially disappeared after the first season. In the end, it was Deep Space Nine that did the most with the idea. So perhaps it’s not that surprising to learn that this book feels more like a successor to Deep Space Nine than Voyager. We have Crell Moset, seen in hologram form in Voyager, but in the flesh here. A Cardassian scientist, his story brings back the worst excesses of the Bajoran occupation. Then there’s the continuation of the demilitarised zone, and the civilians trapped there. In the opening scenes, we get a cameo from Picard and Riker, but it really wouldn’t be out of place to see Sisko and Kira take their place. If Old Wounds does anything right, it’s tying the three 24th century shows together in a way that is completely natural.

One part that doesn’t work so well for me is the way Golden treats the more spiritual aspects of the story. Chakotay’s muddled heritage is the legacy of an advisor who turned out to be a con artist (behind the scenes of Voyager is a wild place), and so any story that tries to make sense of this will run into some problems. I’m no expert, but for what it’s worth, Golden appears to have done her research. I’m just not sure treating mystical entities as definably real is the right way to go. And that goes twofold for the Paris-Torres couple and their Klingon Messiah daughter. Klingons are far from my favourite part of the Star Trek canon, and the kuvah’magh was a better idea when it was the obsession of a handful of fanatics, than when it is demonstrable accurate prophecy.

That’s a minor quibble however, and Old Wounds far exceeds the handful of chapters we spend on Boreth. The Spirit Walk duology may split the characters to the four corners of the Federation, but when we’re on Voyager, it’s a great story.

If you enjoyed this book, you might also like:
Full Circle, by Kirsten Beyer
Mars, by Ben Bova
Homecoming, by Christie Golden

Published by Alex Hormann

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

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