Star Trek: The Next Generation: Takedown

I’ve always enjoyed Star Trek, but I’ve never gotten into the books. For me, Star Trek was first and foremost a TV show that also had some movies. However, I do love a good book, and as a fan of John Jackson Miller’s previous work, I wanted to give Takedown a try. It was a bit of a gamble, but in this case it paid off. From space battles to squabbling diplomats and unraveling mysteries, Takedown is a lot of fun.

“Let me get this straight. You’re telling me all this may have begun at a peace conference?” -Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Takedown.

First off, there are a lot of layers to this story, and half the fun is the way it unfolds, so I don’t want to spoil too much. More or less, it all begins with a peace conference called The Summit of Eight. Among those eight ambassadors are Admiral William T. Riker, a Romulan senator named Bretorious, a Klingon general named Charlak, a DaiMon of the Ferengi Alliance named Igel, a Cardassian named Gul Rodrek, a Gorn named Vekt, a Tzenkethi named Pikatha Tor Nim Gar-C, and a Tholian named Zyene. Some of those characters are major players while the rest have much smaller parts. Regardless, they are gathered for a meeting where something very important happens. Things spiral out of control and attacks begin happening on major communications arrays. Chaos ensues as people struggle to figure out what is happening. Ultimately it is up to Riker, the crew of the Aventine and the crew of the Enterprise to piece together the mystery and put a stop to the mess before everyone winds up in a massive war of mutual destruction.

Along the way, John Jackson Miller carefully builds the story with the characters. Riker is at the core of the book, both in the action and the unfolding mystery. He’s used as a touchstone for readers, immediately giving us someone we can relate and attach to. Early on there are some new characters, like Bretorious, who bring a lot of color to the story with their odd personalities. Yet it’s the familiar Riker who kicks things off. The first few pages of the book thrust him into danger, only to take a step back as readers get a glimpse of where this story is going. New characters are introduced, the plot thickens, and before you know, things get crazy in a good way. One chapter, you’re on the Aventine with Riker and Captain Ezri Dax as they race across space to stop a Romulan attack. The next chapter, your onboard a Romulan warbird as Bretorious plots his next attack. By the time Picard and the Enterprise enter the picture, there’s as much mystery as their is revelation, and still more than half the book to go.

By combining a cast of familiar characters with new ones, it makes it easier to follow along with the story. Even then, the new characters are striking enough that they stand out and it isn’t hard to juggle around the shifting viewpoints. There may be eight ambassadors in the beginning, but there aren’t that many major viewpoint characters in the book. Most of the story comes from Riker, Dax, Picard and Bretorious. The action centers around their interactions with their crews and with each other.

Through great pacing, Takedown manages to jump start with a blast of excitement and keep things fun and interesting throughout. When there’s not a challenging attack going on, there’s a intellectual puzzle. Crews of the various ships are forced to examine their circumstances to try and find a way out. One way or the other, it keeps readers guessing on what’s really going on. And considering the entire story takes place in space with just a few breaks on space stations, it’s amazing that none of the environments ever become boring. Part of that is due to the pacing. Like any good story, it escalates as it progresses, but it also shifts the scenery. The focus might move from one part of the ship to another, or to an entirely new ship and crew in a whole new area of space. All in all, it works perfectly.

While it would be cheap to say this is the best Star Trek book I’ve ever read since this is the first Star Trek book I’ve ever read, it was definitely a great read. Takedown packs in the tension and excitement, along with moments of humor, witty dialog, and great characters. It opens with a great hook, leaving you wondering where things are going, then proceeds to lay down the story with a lot of mystery. If you enjoyed John Jackson Miller’s novella Titan – Absent Enemies, then Takedown promises a whole lot more. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis and highly recommend it to Star Trek and John Jackson Miller fans alike.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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