Book Review: ‘Rough Beasts of Empire’ by David R. George III

October 17, 2022 at 7:47 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: Rough Beasts of Empire Is the third book in the Typhon Pact series. It was written by David R. George III and was released in January 2011. 

I was incredibly nervous going into this book. I have read that this was an incredibly controversial book. You need look no further than the Goodreads ratings or the discussions by prominent Trek literary reviewers to know this book ruffled some feathers. I was especially nervous since I just read the first two book in the Typhon Pact series Zero Sum Game and Seize the Fire, both of which I thought were disappointingly mediocre. 

Thankfully, this book is highly entertaining and well done, although a bit choppy in its structure. 

The biggest strength of this book is the main A-plot with Spock and the Romulan Reunification movement. This book finally delivered on the “Typhon Pact” type of storyline I’ve been waiting on. This book truly moves the ball forward on the political scale, and also makes it really interesting. It has a lot of spy thriller elements, while still feeling at its core like a Star Trek political novel (which are almost always my favorites). 

This book not only makes Spock an excellent point of view character, but also an excellent driving force. Oftentimes, Spock is made the sidekick of another Trek leader (Kirk, Picard, Pike, etc), but here he is truly front and center. All of his dialogue feels authentic and his character feels consistent and exciting.

I also liked meeting all of the Romulan players and leaders. I had a little trouble keeping them apart, but that was mostly because I was flying through the book so fast that I wasn’t too focused on the details. Tal’ Aura really stood out as an interesting character, someone who isn’t necessarily good or bad, just in a unique position. 

I also really liked the way this book does leg work for “Nemesis” and really works towards blending existing Romulan culture with the weird “Remans”. Its not a big part of the book, but I appreciated it.

There were three elements of this book that were weaker, and they unfortunately all revolve around the character of Benjamin Sisko. For almost the entire book, Sisko’s storyline is separated from Spock’s storyline on Romulus, and the only real connection occurred over two chapters, which is really weaksauce. That to me was the biggest glaring issue of the book. 

The second element of this book that was weak was the timeskips. Timeskips should really be nonexistent in Trek, except on rare occasion like telling backstories. However, the timeskip here is entirely due to the need to bring Sisko into the current year in the timeline. I think there should have been a few books in between with Sisko and really fleshed out his reasons for everything he does in this book (I could go into more detail, but I want to avoid spoilers). This works adequately here, but it would have been better had David R. George written a few more books to catch Sisko up organically. I think that’s what he should have been doing between 2002 and 2010, when he wrote a few TOS Star Trek novels, and he could have done four or five Sisko books to catch him up. 

The third issue with the book is the character choices around Sisko himself. I think this is probably the most controversial to the fanbase, and I certainly understand it. I think Sisko makes choices in this book that no other writer would have written, especially the show writers. However, while I not only don’t like it as a character journey and as a moral issue, it actually marks sense to me and I think that David R. George handled the situation adequately. Not well, but adequately. 

Overall, this book is choppy, but it leans towards the highly entertaining end for me. I really really loved the whole Romulan plot of the book, perhaps some of the best Romulan plotlines I have read. Really excellent political stuff. I thought that the Sisko storyline was choppy, rushed, and potentially unnecessary. Because I didn’t really hate the Sisko subplot and absolutely loved the A-plot with the Romulans, I’m willing to give this book a very good grade. I’ll give this book a 4.5 out of 5. Best David R. George novel yet for me!

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.


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