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Good--Not a Masterpiece, But Good
on July 3, 2000
In his preface, J. Michael Straczynski describes this book as "a remarkable achievement . . . a breathtaking accomplishment". In fairness, however, let's remember that the novel was written by his wife about his universe!
Drennan does a very good job of imagining the difficulties of Sinclair's transition from Babylon 5 commander to Earth ambassador to Entil'zha. She also fills in Marcus Cole's backstory. The problem with this type of novel is that, being backstory of familiar characters, it's very difficult to generate suspense. Any Fiver reading this novel already knows the outcome of the Shadow attack on the Arisia mining colony, for instance.
However, Drennan does make Sinclair an interesting and compelling character (much more so than I found him onscreen). Other characters don't fare so well. Marcus' whole life up to his being on Arisia is summarized in a single page; his interactions with his brother William are just interesting enough to make you want a little more depth.
The plot is serviceable, most interesting when it focuses on Sinclair; there's some quiet humor as he tries to adjust to life on Minbar. Action sequences are good, and we finally learn the details of the attack on Arisia and where Sinclair got that scar on his face. The climactic mission, however, lacks punch. Most dedicated Fivers will be able to predict its outcome.
The prose style is competent, but pedestrian; I was ready to scream when "the Minbari penchant for the half-truth" was alluded to for the umpteenth time.
These caveats aside, this is an enjoyable book for the "Bab5" fan (and also--alas!--the only one likely to feature Marcus Cole as a character). It's considered canonical for the series and does fulfill its mission of rounding out Jeffrey Sinclair's story. A "breathtaking accomplishment" it's not. A competently-written,good solid read for "Babylon 5" fans--most definitely.