Book Review: ‘A Ceremony of Losses’

March 2, 2021 at 1:00 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: The Fall: A Ceremony of Losses is the third book in The Fall crossover series of books, written by David Mack and released in October of 2013. 

I have heard many times that David Mack is one of (if not the best) Star Trek authors and that this series, The Fall, was one of the best series. So when you combine the best author with the best series, it should be a good combination….and it certainly was!

I’ve read some of Mack’s other books. I read the Destiny Trilogy, which is the epic crossover trilogy about the Borg, and it was fantastic. It wasn’t what was promised, but it was well done. I also read the first few books in his (and Dayton Ward’s) Vanguard series, which I didn’t care for. So overall, I’ve had a mixed bag with Mack.

But this book is no mixed bag. This book has epic storytelling and suspense in a way that few other Star Trek books do. While The Crimson Shadow had stakes and suspense, it wasn’t on quite the same level. I didn’t always have the life and death feeling, even when major characters were “dying”. In this book, not many characters die but I was equally, if not even more on the edge of my seat. I didn’t know how Julian Bashir, Ezri Dax, or Admiral Akaar would react to the situations that they were presented with, and the whole book was a roller coaster of emotions.

The book did have some flaws, which make it not quite as good as The Crimson Shadow. While Una McCormack had several political worldviews and presuppositions present in her book, they weren’t quite front and center or preachy. She presented even the villains in a good light. However, Mack presents his villains as very evil, and his villains have a very understandable political predisposition, a predisposition that I lean closer to than his heroes at times. Because of that, I felt that Mack was condemning all people on the opposite side of the political aisle, putting them in one heap, which I don’t think is great for discourse. The source of my frustration  was mainly directed at President Pro Tem Ishan and the Treishya, the more isolationist villains in the book.

Another flaw of the book comes not so much with the writing by the author, but rather by the conceptualization of the series by the editors. Each book in the series seems to be advancing the overall narrative in very small, almost indecipherable steps, whereas they are going off and doing their own thing. Case in point: the last two books, The Crimson Shadow and A Ceremony of Losses, both could have been tweaked slightly and could have been stand-alone books. There is nothing wrong with stand-alones, except for the fact that this is a series that was promised to be interconnected. Again, it’s not necessarily an indictment on David Mack, but rather an indictment on Margaret Clark and the other editors at Pocket Books.

Going back to the advantages of the book, David Mack does play moral dilemmas very well. Julian Bashir is portrayed as someone who simply does the right thing no matter what, but Ezri Dax, Sam Bowers, and Admiral Akaar don’t share his fanaticism and have to grapple with some difficult questions. David Mack lays out all of the possibilities and shows the rationale that the characters use for every action they take. Nothing is out of place or unbelievable by our main characters. 

Another advantage of the book is it’s amazing pacing. While it started slightly slow in the first 30 pages, it picked up incredibly quickly and felt like non-stop action and adventure until the very last chapter. It had me hooked and constantly wanting to read more, and I still want to read beyond into the next book in the series, which is exactly the sort of feeling I should have.

Overall, this is an amazing book by a fantastic author. The Fall is certainly turning into one of my favorite series in the Star Trek Literary Universe, and David Mack is slowly climbing the ranks of my favorite Star Trek authors. However, the book did have a few flaws, which keep it from getting a perfect score. A Ceremony of Losses gets 4.5 out of 5!

My next review is The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow, which is the next book in the series.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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