“A Time to Kill” by David Mack

October 19, 2021 at 6:21 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: A Time to Kill is the seventh novel in the A Time to series produced by Pocket Books at Simon and Schuster and was written by David Mack and was released in August 2004. 

I have been largely critical of the A Time to series thus far. I found that John Vornholt’s books had excellent ideas, but were poorly executed. Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore’s books matched the tone of Star Trek, but were very boring. Robert Greenberger’s books had excellent pacing, but lacked a lot of substance and were entirely too short. Well, for the first time in the series, David Mack has changed the game and has turned in a fabulous novel!

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is it’s execution. All of the books have had some military-political angles that have been interesting, this book puts a laser focus on it. This whole book is a political thriller in the vein of Jack Ryan novels but is set in the Star Trek universe. Mack is able to deftly thread the political thriller and Star Trek feelings well, creating a unique and exciting novel.

What is even more impressive is that this is Mack’s first true novel. David Mack had written novellas which combined to be short novels and some nonfiction, but never a full length novel. However, in this debut he displays amazing skills regarding his writing style, his plot design, his pacing, and his action. This book is pretty light on character work (something the other books did better at), but since it’s not really attempted here and isn’t the focus it is totally understandable. I was honestly getting tired of character driven stories and so this was a pleasant change of pace. 

What Mack does here is create a plot where there is no single great outcome. No matter what happens, there will be political and military fallout from this situation. As a result, the reader must determine along with the characters what is the best decision to make and must decide who to root for. The fallout is complicated, but the scenes on Earth, on Qo’nos, and in the Governmental Halls of Tezwa were my favorite in the book. 

This book is somewhat longer than most of it’s predecessors. It clocks in at 340 pages, while almost all of the previous ones range from 260-320 pages. The added length here is a real plus for the story, as it allows for the action to play out and to include more scenes of excellent political dialogue. This book is the first true book with a huge hook for a sequel and with actual, new information that could change the Star Trek universe. I am not sure whether the other authors were not allowed or whether they chose not to, but this book automatically succeeds more because of it. 

The character with the most page time in this book is Worf, and it is fitting as he is not only on the cover but has been missing for the rest of the series. Worf is confronted with a moral and ethical challenge in this book and the way that David Mack writes Worf’s difficulties and internal dialogue is fantastic. I loved seeing Worf conduct espionage and needed to find out how he would get out of tense situations. 

There are some weaknesses in the book, particularly surrounding the middle portion and the strike teams on Tezwa. I was not particularly interested in that storyline, but that doesn’t really harm the story. I was still so invested in the story that I was ok with the action scenes not working for me. Every book will have scenes that I don’t like, but how good the book is depends on whether the great moments outweigh the weak moments, and that is certainly the case here.

I have already become a David Mack fan because of his Destiny Trilogy and his work in The Fall. This book solidifies for me why Mack is in my top five Star Trek authors list. He just tells stories on an entirely different level from his counterparts. 

Overall, I think that this is a fantastic book and is leaps and bound better than all the other A Time to books. I give A Time to Kill five out of five!

(Assuming release dates don’t change again, my next review will be for Ashes of Tomorrow, book 2 of Star Trek Coda!)

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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