In Retro Review: Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of the Empire

I couldn't stop once I started and this continues to reinforce that David Mack is the go-to author of original Star Trek adventures.

Star Trek Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of the Empire by David Mack

Published by Pocket Books, January 2010. Paperback of 448 pages at $7.99.

The cover: The actual cover to this novel is much better than the poor scan I made. Husband and wife, Spock and Marlena Moreau, stand ready to weather the storm that’s building behind them. Great artwork by Cliff Nielson, with cover design by Alan Dingman. I love seeing Leonard Nimoy and Barbara Luna looking like this. I’m excited to read this book just by looking at the cover. Overall grade: A

The premise: From the back cover, “‘In every revolution, there is one man with a vision.’ Captain James T. Kirk of the United Federation of Planets spoke these prophetic words to Commander Spock of the Terran Empire, hoping to inspire change. He could not have imagined the impact his counsel would have. Armed with a secret weapon of terrifying power and a vision of the alternate universe’s noble Federation, Spock seizes control of the Terran Empire and commits it to the greatest gamble in its history: democratic reform. Rivals within the empire try to stop him; enemies outside unite to destroy it. Only a few people suspect the shocking truth: Spock is knowingly arranging his empire’s downfall. But why? Have the burdens of imperial rule driven him mad? Or is this the coldly logical scheme of a man who realizes that freedom must always be paid for in blood? Spock alone knows that the fall of the empire will be the catalyst for a political chain reaction–one that will alter the fate of his universe forever.” I know from watching Deep Space Nine that Spock was blamed for the fall of Terra, so I’m buying this book in the hope that will explain how that happened. I’m very interested in reading this. Overall grade: A

The characters: Spock is the lead of this book. He has a plan, which he’s unwilling to share with most anyone, for the future preservation of the people of the Empire. He knows, thanks to the visit from the Captain Kirk we’re familiar with, that the Empire will fall. Spock knows that the history of its people must be preserved. It is a long term plan that stretches over 28 years. His actions, which are necessary (which would lead to a fascinating discussion elsewhere), have him become the thing he is fighting against. There aren’t too many surprises for him, but when they come, they are world shaking. Marlena Moreau becomes Spock’s wife. She is privy to much of what Spock knows, but not all of it. She is frustrated at times by his Vulcan behavior, which is a typical complaint made of humans about that species. When she attains power it’s interesting to see if she will be corrupt from it or will continue to follow her husband. In the latter half of the novel she has one desire that, logically, she can never have and it’s brutal every time she brings it up. Hoshi Sato III is the current Empress of the Empire. She is an antagonist to Spock because he’s challenging her power. It was nice to see that Mack didn’t have her as the crazed ruler that I was expecting, but instead was a ruler who’s continuing the path that was created for her. Very nice. There are several other famous supporting characters who appear: the Deckers, Sarek, Saavik, Carol Marcus, Captain Terrell, Garth, and a few others. It’s fascinating to see how they play into Spock’s design and what they think of him. I’m always intrigued by the Mirror Universe characters and every character held my attention. Overall grade: A+

The settings: Several familiar settings appear, such as on board the Enterprise and Vulcan, and there are also a few new ones, such as the Empress’s palace and the location that Carol Marcus builds (which is not the one you’re expecting). As with the characters, I was excited to see the Mirror Universe take on these worlds and they took me to their television and film counterparts quickly. It was a joy to return to one world featured on Deep Space Nine. Overall grade: A

The action: Spock’s timetable is a countdown clock. The Empire will fall, but the question becomes will it fall in the manner he has chosen? There are threats around him constantly, from his own crew and assassins, as well as those from other worlds. If you’re familiar with Star Trek, you should have no problem feeling the tension and stress that Spock endures. This is not a shoot ’em up novel, but political long-term strategy that has moments of intense action with calm that is filled with preparation for the next obstacle. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: Watching Deep Space Nine’s Mirror Universe episodes, the conclusion is never in doubt for these characters. However, Mack has included a subplot that focuses on the creation of something that becomes a major component of other Star Trek novels’ Mirror Universe storylines. That completely novel (pun not intended) inclusion kept me ripping through the pages, though I knew what would happen to the leads. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A page turner for anyone who’s a fan of Star Trek. This fills the gaps between The Original Series and Deep Space Nine. I couldn’t stop once I started and this continues to reinforce that David Mack is the go-to author of original Star Trek adventures. Overall grade: A

 

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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