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Good character study, poor novel
on October 22, 2011
If you are interested in the personality and motivations of Gabriel Tosh and Nova Terra, this is a good character study. If you want a book with a story interesting enough to stand on its own, this is a failure.
The book opens well, with a quite good horror scene. It follows up with a good military engagement featuring Nova. After that, the dramatic tension just evaporates. On Nova's side of the story, we are given vague hints about a mysterious terrorist organisation acting against the Dominion. On Tosh's side of the story, we fairly soon get a detailed look at the character of the various Spectres, him especially. By the time the stories converge in a Spectre attack on a major Dominion facility, we have seen that the Spectres are dysfunctional enough that they won't be able to carry their plan out. When Nova shows up it just gets worse. The author has already had Tosh state that Nova is more powerful than the Spectres, and now the action confirms it. They can't stand against her.
The attack is in the middle of the book. After it follow character scenes until about two-thirds of the book, when the James Bond stereotype begins: Nova gets kidnapped and the Evil Mastermind is unveiled. The flaws in Kenyon's writing really show here. The Evil Mastermind doesn't even get a gloating monologue, his "perfect master plan" is just info-dumped on us in a block of pages. And he STILL withholds the one part of the plan that would impart some horror to it. Fortunately, the action scenes that follow are reasonably good.
Besides the action scenes, the good point of this book is the exploration of the personalities of Nova and Tosh. One of the things I was hoping this book might do is to show us why Nova is loyal to the Dominion, even after learning all the horrible things the Dominion has done. It does, and it does a surprisingly good job. It also does just a plain good job of showing us her personality in general. It does the same for Tosh. Ironically, why he is a good character for this sort of treatment is also why he fails as Nova's antagonist. It would have worked so much better if they had been partners, choosing which side they are on, rather than with Tosh's choice already made.
All in all, this reads like the novelisation of a dumb action movie that would have depended on eye-candy Nova to distract the audience from the feeble story. It fails to stand on its own.