Dayton Ward ties up the loose ends left over from Reap the Whirlwind in the latest novel in the Vanguard series, Open Secrets. Commodore Reyes was arrested at the end of the previous book for allowing classified information to be disseminated by a reporter, and we get the fallout from that decision here. T’Prynn, intelligence officer who had a mental breakdown, suffers her malady and, of course, eventually recovers. The saga of the Shedai artifacts and the search for information continues as well. But unfortunately, this is about all Ward does.
Rather than recap all the action, I’ll just say that if you are interested in Vanguard then this is something you should read. It’s not a bad novel; it just doesn’t stand on its own at all. What new material there is seems only prelude for David Mack’s Precipice, which will continue the series later this year.
One of the interesting aspects of the series is the way that Shedai technology and the meta-genome are precursors to later events with which readers are already familiar. For example, a man is completely healed much like would happen with a dermal regenerator in TNG. Carol Marcus’s very appearance lets us know that this will be an avenue to Genesis, at least to some extent. And Ward helps set the stage for not only the Organian intervention into a Federation/Klingon war shown in the episode ‘Errand of Mercy,’ but also the colony of Nimbus III shown in one of the movies, Final Frontier I believe. Yet rather than this sort of thing being secondary to the story, it seems that Open Secrets is an exercise in reconciliation as story.
The novel also suffers from time lapse between its publication and its predecessor’s. Frankly, I had a hard time remembering what happened, even with a short primer at the novel’s beginning. It is always a delicate balance between killing a previous reader with unnecessary exposition and helping an unfamiliar or forgetful reader gain some sort of orientation, but I felt Ward erred on the side of too little here. While I have seen his prose style being ripped in reviews, I found it adequate if uninspired. The author likely would be served well by spending a little more time on style, but it was hardly sub-average for contemporary Star Trek fiction.
And with the title of the novel being Open Secrets, one would expect that some secrets would be revealed. Unfortunately, what is revealed leaves the reader with more questions than answers. A novel that seems to just be dealing with the fallout of the previous entry while moving characters around to set them in place for the next, Ward’s book is adequate though unsatisfying.