by Frank Luke
RE:Read Ship of the Line
Most of the books I’ve sold or given away over the years I have not missed. They were good for a read or two but no more. Diane Carey’s Ship of the Line differed. Since I sold most of my Star Trek books to a used book store seventeen years ago, this is one I would think about every few years and say, “that would be a worthy re-read.”
Recently, I got that chance. Reading Ship of the Line shows that Carey knows her Trek and loves her Trek (some reviewers on Good Reads disagree). With the Enterprise crew, she carefully and skillfully takes them through a new adventure with new crewmates while remaining true to their characters as shown over seven years of ST:TNG and four movies. She creates personalities for the new characters who were only seen for seconds in “Cause and Effect.”
In “Cause and Effect,” The Enterprise-D emerged from a time loop, freeing a ship that had been trapped there for almost a century. Out of place and out of time, the crew of the Bozeman had to regain their footing in the strange, new world of the future.
This book shows them sticking together and working at a star yard. They are heroes because their delay tactics a century ago against a Klingon cruiser gave time for the more of Starfleet to arrive and defend the outpost. The destruction of the Bozeman was the only victory a specific Klingon vessel ever saw. Their return has cost the Klingon commander his only glory. Now, he plots for revenge.
In my opinion, the best part of Bateson as a commander is his love of tradition. He doesn’t pick up the quirk only after arriving in the future. In the scenes before the time loop, Carey shows him drawing lines between the past and the present. He uses nautical terms because he knows that humans that far out in space need connections to what has gone before.
The quirk pays off in the future when he shows Riker how multiple pieces of the Enterprise-D wreckage have been salvaged and incorporated into the E. It’s a touching scene and shows Riker that the Bozeman crew have no intention of taking the E.
Pros of the Book
- Diane Carey knows her material. She is excellent at shaping characters from a little bit said here or there. She knows her Star Trek lore and her naval lore. I cannot fathom those reviewers who say she has only a passing familiarity with it.
- The book weaves together two very different generations of Starfleet. The Enterprise-D crew knew mostly peace in their voyages. The Bozeman grew up in a cold war on the edge of going hot and saw more combat on border patrol than most other vessels. This makes conflict! The Bozeman crew is convinced that the Klingons are just waiting to invade. The Enterprise crew disagrees. (Bozeman is right.)
- The Klingon vessel holds up well. They are old, tired warriors who had the misfortune of being against a stellar crew in the Bozeman decades ago. Given the chance to regain their lost glory, they go for it. They do not whine about their turn of fate. They seek to restore themselves.
- Kelsey Grammar played Morgan Bateson in “Cause and Effect.” A reader can easily see Bateson as Fraiser Crane in space. It’s hilarious but works.
- After losing the Enterprise-D, Picard faces the possibility starting over in another career.
- Writing 3D Klingon is very difficult. The series always focuses on the warrior caste (because that’s where the conflict comes from). All but one Klingon is a warrior in this book, but Carey still gives the Klingons life beyond “it is a good day to die.”
- Crusher barely has any significance in the book.
Cons of the Book
- The book focuses more on Bateson and his crew than Picard and company. If you are looking for Picard’s adventures, they’re here (especially in his subplot), but Geordi and Troi are relegated to third string.
- Riker acts a bit out of character early on in the book, but this is explained as he fears Bateson intends to take command of the Enterprise-E.
- After all the build up of the Bozeman crew against Klingons, the ending feels rushed, like Carey ran up against her word limit and had to tie things up with a bow.
- Several threads and plot lines compete for space. It’s very hard to juggle them all and bring about a satisfactory conclusion.
I’m giving this 4 out of 5 stars.
Please visit Frank Luke’s blog where this article is also posted.