Death slumbers in the ashes of silent planets, waiting to be awakened and unleashed…

Twenty years have passed since the interstellar scourge known as the Husnock were exterminated without warning by a being with godlike abilities.

Left behind, intact but abandoned, their desolate worlds and derelict ships brim with destructive potential.

Now a discovery by a Federation cultural research team has drawn the attention of several ruthless factions. From black market smugglers to alien military forces, it seems every belligerent power in the quadrant hopes to capture the Husnock’s lethal technology.

All that stands between the galaxy and those who have come to plunder the cruelest secrets of the Husnock are Admiral William Riker, Captain Christine Vale, and the crew of the Starship Titan.

David Mack returns for his third Star Trek novel of 2017 with Fortune of War, the latest story in the long-running series of Star Trek: Titan novels. The Titan books follow the adventures of Will Riker, the USS Titan, and a crew of characters taken from the Star Trek shows and original to the novels.

Fortune of War is best described as a heist novel, with plenty of action in the signature style of David Mack. The story is a follow up to the events of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Survivors,” in which the Enterprise-D discovers two survivors of a colony wiped out by an alien race called the Husnock. Twenty years later, the Titan is dispatched to Husnock space to secure its mighty starships and weapons from other parties interested in procuring the technology.

Mack is an extremely comfortable and confident Star Trek novelist, and it shows. He weaves a tight narrative of the race between several parties to secure the Husnock technology, and continues to advance the rich characters of the Titan crew and their individual storylines.

The Husnock warship seen in “The Survivors.”

The breakout character of Fortune of War is Christine Vale, the former First Officer and now Captain of the Titan, following the promotion of Will Riker to Admiral in a previous novel. Her journey in this novel to step out of Riker’s shadow and emerge as the undisputed commanding officer of the Titan is a great arc, especially with such high stakes.

In addition, there is good development for the Efrosian chief engineer, Xin Ra-Havreii, the security chief Ranul Keru, and a simmering subplot involving the divided loyalties of the new first officer, Dalit Sarai, that sets up events for future novels.

Unfortunately, the editorial decision to promote Riker to Admiral results in him being largely sidelined for the events of the novel. His arc, to learn how to be an admiral and stop himself from interfering in captaining the ship, mirrors Vale. Unfortunately, it’s less interesting overall, and results in Riker being absent for large portions of the narrative. Troi is also largely absent from the events of the book.

Two Breen in the distinctive refrigeration suits.

The main foil of the novel is the Breen, an apparent favorite of Mack’s. Since Zero Sum Game, Mack has contributed to significantly fleshing out the mysterious race, and reconciling the many contradictory claims about them throughout the Star Trek shows. The Breen backstory is one of the most interesting alien concepts that the novels have put forward, and they are growing as a real threat to the Federation.

In addition to the Breen, there are other groups pursuing the Husnock technology, including the Ferengi, the Orion Syndicate, a crew of Pakleds, and a group of Nausicaans. Each play an important role in the story’s development. In addition, there are fun appearances two Ferengi characters who made multiple appearances or were frequently referenced throughout Deep Space Nine.

Both novels published in November, Fortune of War and Prometheus: Fire With Fire, follow mixed crews of canon characters with those original to the novels. It’s not entirely fair to compare the two, given that the Titan has appeared in 13 previous novels and Fire With Fire was the first for the Prometheus.

But where Prometheus’s characters were largely bland and undeveloped, Titan’s are rich and well defined. This book provides needed re-affirmation that it is possible to care for novel-only characters as much as those from the canon.

Ultimately, Star Trek: Titan — Fortune of War is an exhilarating action adventure – the kind we have come to expect from Mack. The only downside is that, as the last Star Trek book of 2017 and with only one Star Trek novel set in the 24th century on the calendar for 2018, it’s currently uncertain when we will revisit the Titan.

Fingers crossed we don’t have too long to wait.

If you liked Titan: Fortune of War, you should check out:

  • Desperate Hours by David Mack – The first Star Trek: Discovery novel, written in coordination with the show’s writers’ room, follows Captain Georgiou and First Officer Michael Burnham aboard the USS Shenzhou as they race to save a colony… with the help of the USS Enterprise under command of Captain Pike!
     
  • Section 31: Control by David Mack – The conclusion to the Section 31 storyline that Mack has told over several novels, Control is another action-packed novel that challenges the fundamental notions of Star Trek in the best traditions of the show’s allegories. A pulse-pounding, thought-provoking read.
     
  • The Midnight Front by David Mack – This isn’t Star Trek, but David’s original novel, The Midnight Front: A Dark Arts Novel, which is being released in January. The book involves sorcerers practicing dark arts behind the scenes of World War II.