Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Time Twists in Elusive Salvation

Dayton Ward nailed a superb read with History's Shadow three years ago and the long teased sequel (of sorts) dropped earlier this year with Elusive Salvation.   

While this does act as a completely separate story to the events of History's Shadow, Ward's newest trek into the unknown returns familiar faces from episodes of The Original Series (Assignment: Earth), Deep Space Nine (Little Green Men) and Enterprise (Carbon Creek) in a tale which is set between the events of The Motion Picture and The Wrath of Khan as well as across the 1970's and 1980's.

Placing the action within several different years of human history does mean that you need to keep your wits about you from the first page as we move from moments in the 20th Century to the 22nd Century with fair regularity. Keeping up? Good because there's also a couple of new alien races to drop into the scenario at the same time who are the main reason we're flip flopping around the continuum in the first place.   

The pace at which Ward keeps us moving around definitely keeps you pinned to the story all the way through and it's a well-warranted sequel after the apparent success of History's Shadow. Elusive Salvation is a Star Trek novel that isn't quite a Star Trek novel given that it allows a lot of its guest cast a significant amount of room to breathe and exist. At times it almost comes across that Kirk, Spock and the rest of the regular USS Enterprise crew are there as the guest cast in this adventure which tends to focus more on the characters of Roberta Lincoln and the Vulcan Mestral (Carbon Creek). 

Elusive Salvation is a refreshing break from adventures on at the final frontier and the edges of the galaxy bringing the action - in a very reboot way - right back to Earth of two time periods. As for characterisation it did feel somewhat light this time round focusing more on the twists and turns of the time travelling protagonists and leaving them with very little to do. Ok there are a few Kirk quips, an occasional raised Vulcan eyebrow and a cantankerous comment from the good Doctor McCoy but the bulk of the book does rely on Roberta Lincoln for its energy and motivation. For a character who appeared in a single episode of The Original Series, she gets a lot of ground here but very little character depth and at moments I even felt she was coming off a little too much like a female Doctor missing only a TARDIS since the servo she carries is certainly akin to a sonic screwdriver in no uncertain terms. 

While characterisation might suffer here, Elusive Salvation certainly delivers when it comes to maintaining pace and shovelling out the goods in terms of action and suspense. We have the car and mouse hunt for the Iramahl in the 20th Century as well as the observations of Starfleet's finest admirals in Nogura and Morrow in the 23rd Century which are a tad deflated by the sporadic and two dimensional appearance of the Ptaen Hunters who are seeking out the Iramahl survivors. There is a lot happening within this story and some knowledge of the previous tome wouldn't go amiss. Admittedly I haven't read it and did have a furrowed brow at a couple of moments because I wasn't 'in' on past events but don't let this deter you from reading on and enjoy what I must describe as a 'temporal caper'. 

While not Dayton Ward's finest novel it's still a very worthwhile read and one I enjoyed at every turn. There's even some nice hat tips towards the end that will thrill every fan.  Not an essential for your collection but a good 390 page indulgence without question.

You can also read our chat with author Dayton Ward right HERE!

Elusive Salvation is available now from Simon and Schuster priced £7.99 ISBN 9781501111297

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