"Greater than the Sum" wasn`t written by Peter David but by Christopher
L. Bennett. But because my review contains references to "Before
Dishonor" and New Frontier, I added a copy here too.
S P O I L E R
“Greater than the Sum” has been announced as the lead-in to the probably
biggest Trek literature event so far, the “Destiny” series as well as
numerous related books. That alone made me very curious from early on.
But I was also curious how the author would deal with the aftermath of
previous books, especially of “Before Dishonor”. A lead-in book into a
big event has to provide the basics on which such a story event can
build and what happened in “Before Dishonor” didn`t make that an easy task.
I think Christopher L. Bennett did the best that was possible although
it was not always convincing to me. A lot of it smelled of damage
control and finding excuses. It worked best in the case of Kadohata. I
remember that Kadohata didn`t give up the mutiny easily. She only did so
after it was obvious that she couldn`t win. But if you want to redeem
one of the three instigators, she is the best candidate. I was willing
to give her that chance and just assume that in between books, she
indeed understood her error. Also, she is the most likeable of the three
and adds an interesting dimension to the character mix on board,
especially in this book which looks at the topic family and how to raise
children from different angles. I haven`t quite managed yet to forget
and forgive what she has done but I am confident that she will redeem
herself in time. I am sure, “Destiny” will give her plenty of opportunity.
When Leybenzon was first introduced I didn`t consider him to be likeable
but I thought he is interesting. I could see that this character could
go either way: He could grow and learn from his experiences, his
strengths and weaknesses. Or it could end very badly for him. “Before
Dishonor” didn`t leave any doubt in my mind that this man has missed his
chance. To me, he was irredeemable. I am glad that the author didn`t
even try to find any excuses in this case. I wouldn`t have wished him
such a bad end but it certainly wasn`t out of character and it makes
sense. Having said that, I won`t miss him.
T`Lana was worse. I barely tolerated her when she was first introduced.
After “Before Dishonor” she was even less redeemable to me than
Leybenzon. I am actually surprised that the author tried to do a lot of
damage control here and in my case, it didn`t work at all. None of the
arguments impressed me. T`Lana was not insane, she was completely
responsible for her actions and this had nothing to do with
“stubbornness”. A woman, Vulcan or not, with so many problems and such
attitudes is not fit for duty. At least I agree with that. I still think
– good riddance and hopefully that was the last time I met her in a book!
My favourite part of dealing with the mutiny aftermath was Picard`s
meeting with Admiral Nechayev. After “Before Dishonor” arrived I made
clear that I had a lot of problems with the mutiny but during
discussions I got some reactions also from professional writers who
defended it. I was dreading to read more about the importance of the
chain of command, that orders are orders and that Picard was wrong
although he was obviously right at the end. I was very pleasantly
surprised. This time, I had no problems whatsoever with the arguments
the author provided. Everything made a lot of sense. I loved the idea
that Nechayev offered Picard her peace meal, if I may call it that. I am
also glad that I am now reasonably sure that what happened in “A Time
to…” and the recent books won`t be repeated – at least not in the near
“Before Dishonor” is a flawed book. It is also the probably most
frustrating book I have read so far because there is a lot in it I
enjoyed very much but also a lot I am not happy with. Many people also
mentioned how Worf was written as another flaw. In this case, I don`t
agree. I think Peter David portrayed him very accurately. What
Christopher L. Bennett explained in his book was exactly what went
through my mind when I read “Before Dishonor”. Maybe this should have
been spelled out by Peter David himself but I still think, that wasn`t a
As a lead-in book to a direction that has a lot to do with the Borg, the
author also provided a summary of a lot of back history about the Borg
like the various abilities, splinter groups and about treknology.
Treknology has never been one of my strong points but I understand that
the author had to make an effort to explain this background, too. I must
admit, as I expected I lost that part of the plot very quickly. My eyes
glazed over sometimes and I quickly started just to take such
descriptions as a given and concentrate on what I could understand, like
does it work or doesn`t it instead of the why or why nots.
It is not treknology anyway that makes me a Star Trek fan. What I am
mainly interested in are the characters. “Greater than the Sum” is
offering a very rich tapestry of characters I very much enjoyed. I liked
the discussion between Worf and Geordi very much when it was mentioned
that they are in a minority now as Deanna and Dr. Crusher were in the
past. I am certainly not complaining. Also because I am female I welcome
this change but first of all I welcome it because I like these new
female characters. (Not all of them are brand new, but anyway) After the
bumpy start before this book, I hope these people will stay around and
be allowed to be developed. With the Borg around, a continuation of a
revolving door feeling is possible. It would even be realistic. But I
wouldn`t like it.
Having a female-heavy crew, I think it is important to have some good
recurring new male characters too. Rennan Konya is not brand new either
but he feels like a new character to me. Please keep him around! He is a
fascinating character and I like him a lot. His relationship with
T`Ryssa is something I welcome and I am curious how it will develop.
The Saurian Captain Bazel is of course not part of Picard`s crew but a
male character in this book I enjoyed reading about. I certainly
wouldn`t mind meeting him again.
That brings me to Hugh. I welcomed it that the author provided such a
comprehensive background about what we know from TNG on TV and what
happened afterwards. I think it was about time to remember this
character and this splinter group. His sacrifice touched me a lot but
didn`t leave me with any resentment because of that decision. Thanks to
Christopher L. Bennett`s excellent character developments in which he
skilfully led the readers to the conclusion that Hugh is the natural
choice for this sacrifice I am not left with resentment but with
surprise. I would never have guessed that Hugh would be removed so early
in this Borg event. I think it would have been nice to have Hugh around
in Destiny or even longer than that but on the other hand, it is good
that the authors and editors keep us readers surprised and guessing.
From the new female characters, T`Ryssa certainly left the biggest
impact on me. After reading first comments I was sceptical but when I
started reading the book myself, I immediately liked her. I have a
weakness for free spirits, original thinkers and in general officers who
are determined to say what they think and do what is right. Some people
will call me crazy but I think in some ways, T`Ryssa is a lighter
version of Calhoun. Calhoun is my favourite Star Trek character.
Therefore I am not surprised any more that I enjoyed reading about her
T`Ryssa is much more than a “class clown”. She is fun but this is paired
with intelligence and often some interesting insights. A good example is
changing the name of the ship Einstein into Frankenstein. It is funny
but at the same time, I was aware of the seriousness behind this change
and that it was even an appropriate decision.
Her origin adds to what makes this character so interesting and gives
her so much potential. She is indeed the opposite of Spock and it is a
good idea to explore what that could mean. I didn`t know that the
ability to mind meld is automatically part of each half Vulcan even if
that person is completely untrained. That was very interesting, also how
Picard guided her when she contacted the cluster entity. It made me
smile when it became obvious that Picard is somewhat of a father figure
to her. During that meld T`Ryssa showed a combination of intuition and
intelligence combined with original thinking I found admirable. Her
style is certainly not Picard`s when dealing with aliens but in this
case, it worked so well. I don`t think his criticism was entirely
justified because I don`t think what she said was really wrong. A Borg
people without the ability to assimilate others, consisting of
individuals but with a huge amount of knowledge could be the complete
opposite of the terrifying Borg we know now. Hugh`s group was a
beginning. I think it would be great if T`Ryssa could be proven right.
I think T`Ryssa brings some fresh air into the TNG crew and I already
like her very much. I hope to read much more about her in future.
The cluster entity was fascinating. I also enjoyed it to read about an
alien being to whom life is so precious. This forced everyone to reflect
very carefully about motives and not to just go after the Borg as the
“bad guys”. I liked that a lot.
My first reaction when I learned that Picard and Dr. Crusher are married
was: finally! That was about time. But I understand that changing
attitudes takes time and I remember the controversial discussions well
when New Frontier arrived, a crew in which “fraternization” was normal
and with a Captain and first officer who are a love interest without
exactly being lovers. How times have changed! Titan broke