atonement-coverAdmiral Kathryn Janeway faces a tribunal determined to execute her for supposed crimes committed during Voyager’s maiden trek through the Delta Quadrant.

Captain Chakotay knows that the Kinara, several species now allied against the Full Circle fleet, are not all they appear to be. The Confederacy of the Worlds of the First Quadrant—a pact he cannot trust—is his only hope for unravelling the Kinara’s true agenda and rescuing Admiral Janeway.

Meanwhile, Seven and Tom Paris are forced to betray the trust of their superiors in a desperate bid to reveal the lengths to which a fellow officer has gone in the name of protecting the Federation from the legendary Caeliar.

Order Ascendance:

Star Trek: Voyager – Atonement picks up right where Kirsten Beyer’s previous Voyager novel, Acts of Contrition, left off. Kathryn Janeway has turned herself over to the Kinara, an alliance of Delta Quadrant species who want to execute the Admiral for the “crimes” committed by her and her crew during Voyager’s first trip through the region.

However, the leaders pushing for this alliance are not who they appear to be; rather, they are being controlled by the Neyser consciousnesses led by the being who took control of the “Meegan” hologram way back at the beginning of the Full Circle mission to the Delta Quadrant.

Meanwhile, back at Earth, Seven of Nine, Tom Paris, Samantha Wildman, and Dr. Sharak continue their work to free Axum and the rest of the victims of Commander Jefferson Briggs, a researcher who is employing extreme, unethical methods in his attempts to cure the “catomic plague.”

Beyer’s previous Voyager novels are definite must-reads before jumping into ‘Atonement.’

If this sounds like a lot, it is. Atonement relies heavily on the plots of the novels that precede it, most notably Protectors and Acts of Contrition. Atonement ends up being the conclusion of a trilogy formed by these three novels. Therefore, if you have not yet read the two previous books, I would urge you to do so before picking up Atonement.

Atonement, as the title suggests, is about facing the consequences of one’s actions, but more than that, it is about the revelation of one’s true character. This theme is repeated throughout the novel. Commander Briggs is revealed to be a monster, even though he believed he was acting in the best interests of the Federation.

The Federation itself is revealed, through the actions of Janeway and her fleet, to be a force for good in the galaxy (for the most part). The Confederacy is revealed to be, well, us. Our present-day society is very much mirrored by the actions and attitude of the Confederacy, and while they may not quite be up to snuff to be an ally of the Federation, the future holds many possibilities, and there is potential there for an on-going relationship going forward.

I really enjoyed the resolution of many of the plot threads in this story. Tom Paris and his mother, Julia, come to a place of reconciliation, and while B’Elanna may never forgive her, things are not as dark as they were in the previous novel. Also, the resolution to The Doctor’s storyline was very impressive.

The messy, imperfect ending to The Doctor’s story was one of my favorite things.

I was, sadly, expecting a reset-button ending to this story, in which his memories of Seven of Nine were restored and everything works out, but Kirsten Beyer surprised me with how this story was resolved. Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised; Beyer has proven to have a knack for meaningful stories and non-reset button endings.

For the most part, I came away from Atonement immensely satisfied with the way the story has been concluded. Nobody writes these characters better than Kirsten Beyer, and in this novel we even got the treat of a couple of scenes featuring Elim Garak, one of my favorite Trek characters of all time!

Also, because Voyager is currently set a little earlier than the rest of the 24th Century novel timeline, we got a number of scenes with another favorite: Federation President Nan Bacco, which was a very pleasant surprise!

In Star Trek: Voyager – Atonement, we learn that there are ideals worth living up to, and that there are always going to be those who want to tear down all that has been built. Like “The Drumhead,” the lesson here is to stick to our principles, and to always remain vigilant and on guard against forces that would take us away from what is ethical and right.

  • SFSeries&Movies

    thanks for the review, have to say, reading the review makes me wanna go and read it! 🙂

  • Zarm

    Atonement was a far superior novel to its direct predecessor, Acts of Contrition. The character relationships were handled better (particularly the Parises, which I found to be the most compelling storyline), and the resolution was extremely satisfactory. And the final scene with the Doctor and Seven was unexpectedly, powerfully touching.

    The story is still marred by heavy-handed messages. Acts of Contrition presented the Confederacy as a painfully-obvious Straw Man version of how political Liberals see Political Conservatives, and drug the novel down to the level of a political attack add. (“Senator Johnson vowed to cut taxes if he was elected- but HE LIED! Senator Wilkins has promised to HELP the working-class family…”) This is undignified and unbecoming; Star Trek has always had messages, and often their morals have aligned with one particular political viewpoint or another… but never before (that I can recall) have they been blatantly used as a platform for the author to belittle people of differing political persuasions.

    The legacy of these choices still taints Atonement, though thankfully to a lesser degree. The Starfleet personnel are far too often holier-than-thou (the little asides Beyer throws into their thought processes, such as on page 95) don’t help. Starfleet remains an irritatingly hypocritical entity in these novels, applying IDIC scatter-shot and treating the Confederacy with judgmental contempt (mirroring the author’s political views) where they would treat cultural differences with say, the Klingons (who treat women just as poorly and still conduct ritualized murders and ascension in rank by assassination) with respect. A few passages in the book bizarrely highlight this; near the beginning, Presider Cin clearly gets an ‘ignorance showcase’ speech, where she talks about all that ‘tolerance’ and ‘respecting other people’s beleifs’ just causing trouble from the Federation, and she doesn’t understand how they can live like that- and in response, they show no tolerance or respect for her beliefs at all, thus giving lie to this informed attribute. Likewise, though I hadn’t realized it until the novel itself pointed it out, Chakotay’s loathing responses toward General Mattings are pretty rich considering his frequent use of armed force, disagreement with Federation ideals as ‘inefficient and insufficient to ensuring the safety of his people,’ and willingness to take life during his maquis days. Mattings does very little that Chakotay hasn’t, and Chakotay things of him as scum for it.

    Despite the paragraphs thus devoted to it, though, this taint is far less in Atonement than in the previous novel. Acts of Contrition was saturated in it; Atonement merely has its looming shadow overhang it to a degree. This novel has its own irritating issue- the condescending attitude toward religion embodied by Chakotay’s patronizing, insulting, and particularly ignorant speech on page 161. Like the politics of the previous book, it is clearly an outsider’s view on religion- but it is a patently offensive one, and the assertion that Chakotay has yet to encounter a religion that can long endure under a literal interpretation of its tenets is not only a betrayal of the character’s faith, but also describes something that is no longer faith, and is historically ignorant. I guess Judaism and its 3000+ years of sustained existence and counting ‘can’t long survive’ with its literal beliefs? Seems to have done pretty well so far.

    The Voyager/Full Circle flee series is the only novel series in the relaunch era that I am following regularly, and I find it to be well-written. If not for the issues above, I would have nothing but utter praise for it. If Kristen Beyer can stop using the novels as a forum for unresearched, Straw Man attacks against what she doesn’t believe in (and, with all due respect, doesn’t understand or know anything about), this series can rise to excellence. As it is, strong character work, intriguing plot threads, good interpersonal dynamics, and a look-overdue focus on the Children of Tama are held back only by these unnecessary socio-political platforms.

    (Also, having just read The Crimson Shadow, the timeline mismatch with a still-living Bacco was a bit jarring).

    Overall narrative and writing style, A+. Overall novel factored in with the legacy political satire issues from Acts of Contrition and the belittling, ignorant views on religion plus Federation arrogance and hypocrisy in this one… C+. Excellent style, problematic content (and for those of a similar religious/political persuasion to the author and not minding the intellectual dishonesty on display, this element will probably not be bothersome at all). if the next can rise above that, it will be an excellent novel indeed.