The Returned, Parts 1 – 3, by Peter Allen David

Captain Mackenzie Calhoun and the crew of the U.S.S. Excalibur are back, picking up three months after the stunning events depicted in New Frontier: Blind Man’s Bluff. Calhoun’s search of Xenex has failed to find any survivors, and now he is bound and determined to track down the race that killed them—the D’myurj and their associates, the Brethren—and exact vengeance upon them. His search will take the Excalibur crew into a pocket universe, where he discovers not only the homeworld of the D’myurj, but another race that shares Calhoun’s determination to obliterate his opponents. But is this new race truly an ally…or an even greater threat?

The Returned-1

When you read a certain kind of book, there are expectations. The author has to work hard to meet those expectations, and it is great when the author challenges those expectations.

One of the expectations I have with Star Trek books, is that the book include ‘main’ characters from the television series. While reading this story, I kept having Déjà vu. I was already familiar with the characters, and I already knew some of the plot as it unfolded. I can only assume I had read the books preceding this one.

The story contains several minor characters from the TV series – some infamous, and some were just ‘that one character from that episode.’ More than one plot point was predictable, but as a die hard Star Trek fan, I expect the novels to remind me of the series which is formulaic. The episodes and books that challenge that formula are the ones that fans remember long after they were aired or printed.

There are no glaring plot holes or continuity issues. The writing is well done, and I had no problem following the story. All the way to the end. Which is where I have to protest. I already knew this was to be an electronic trilogy, but I find the unresolved cliffhanger to be a poor substitution for good storytelling. You can wrap up most of the story and pull the rug out from under the reader, and I’ll give you props, but to just end the story and figure I’ll just buy the next one is offensive.

Cliffhangers are a cheap plot device, and I would expect writers of such an intellectual franchise such as Star Trek to realize this. The world of Star Trek is full of rich and powerful writing that escort the reader along in wonder and expectation. I just wish the ending of this story were better written. It seems to me like this is a longer work that was just cut into three pieces in order to reach into my pocket again.

* * *

The Returned-2

I liked part two better than part one. The odd déjà vu I felt in part one was gone from part two. The ending of part two didn’t have that unfinished feeling that part one did. And what an ending it is! I can’t wait to read part three, as one of my favorite Star Trek characters shows up on the last pages.

The description for all three pieces are the same. I suspect that the casual reader might believe that these are all the same story from that. Plus it just further reinforces that this is a longer story chopped up into smaller pieces.

My biggest complaint would be the comically uninteresting villain in the Excalibur storyline. The Lefler story remains interesting in part two, and I look forward to everything concluding in part three.

* * *

The Returned-3

A fight between gods. A genocidal race of super beings that can’t be stopped. The Excalibur against all odds in a race to save our galaxy. These are some of the themes in part three. The romp through sci-fi by Peter Allen David had to end, and the conclusion to “The Returned” was high-octane until the last chapter.

Happenstance endings, or an ending that is brought about not by the ingenuity of the main protagonist, but by some external force is a disappointment. The Excalibur and Calhoon didn’t defeat the bad guys.

Anyway, bum ending aside, I enjoyed the series, and recommend you wait until all three parts are available and then purchase them all at once. Still a four star read. It was cool to read these on NetGalley before publication. I’ve read many Star Trek books authored by PAD, and I expect I will again.

* * *


Peter Allen David (often abbreviated PAD) is an American writer, best known for his work in comic books and Star Trek novels. David often jokingly describes his occupation as “Writer of Stuff”. David is noted for his prolific writing, characterized by its mingling of real world issues with humor and references to popular culture. He also uses metafiction frequently, usually to humorous effect, as in his work on the comic book Young Justice.


About Mark Gardner

Mark Gardner lives in northern Arizona with his wife, three children and a pair of spoiled dogs. Mark holds a degrees in Computer Systems and Applications and Applied Human Behavior. View all posts by Mark Gardner

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