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Star Trek: The Lost Era: Well of Souls Mass Market Paperback – Oct 28 2003

3.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Star Trek (Oct. 28 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743463757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743463751
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 2.5 x 17.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 236 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #647,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

If she scanned one more duty roster, Captain Rachel Garrett was certain she would either scream or take her thumbs and pop the eyeballs out of the head of the first unlucky person to set his big toe into her ready room, and probably both.

Oh, we are in a good mood, we are just full of good cheer, aren't we, sweetheart?

"Well, I hate this," Garrett said, talking back to that nagging little voice in her head. She scowled, hunched over yet another ream of scrolling names, and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she had a migraine coming, a real whopper, and wasn't that just her dumb luck? "And I hate you."

But I'm not the one who wanted to be captain. Nooo, you wanted the glamour, you read about all the Archers and the Aprils and the Pikes and the Kirks and the Harrimans of the universe and how they zipped around in their starships and you decided, girl, you want you one of those. Only no one ever talked about duty rosters and being short an officer because you were stupid enough to let your XO go on R and R and the crew's still being on edge because you were too far away to help Nigel Holmes when he needed you most and everything that's happened since is your fault, it's your fault, it's your...

"Go away." Blinking against a lancet of pain skewering her brain, Garrett pinched the bridge of her nose between her thumb and index finger. "Buzz off."

But the voice had a point, and the very fact that she was arguing with that little piece of herself hunkered somewhere deep in the recesses of what passed as her brain meant that maybe she should call it a night, or maybe a day, or...what time was it anyway? Frowning, Garrett glanced at her chronometer and then groaned. She'd worked straight through into the beginning of gamma shift. That meant that her new ops, Lieutenant Commander Darya Bat-Levi, was gone, relieved by the next Officer of the Day. Well, working straight through beta shift would explain why she was hungry, tired, sore -- Garrett reached around and massaged a muscle, tight as a banjo string, in her neck. If she hadn't eaten or moved her aching butt one millimeter for hours, no wonder she was having an argument with a nasty little voice in her head. Except someone had to do this work, and without a first officer to pick up the slack, there really wasn't anyone else, was there? Not anyone qualified, that is. Oh, she could probably tag one of the bridge officers to step up to the plate. Bat-Levi, maybe, though Garrett didn't like the idea; the woman was on probation, after all. But Thule G'Dok Glemoor, for example: the Naxeran lieutenant was tactical, good head on his shoulders. In fact, he was OOD this very minute; maybe she should loosen the reins, tap Glemoor to...

"Don't kid a kidder," Garrett muttered, saying it before that needling little voice started up again. She was no more likely to order one of her bridge officers to step outside the scope of his duties than she was to suddenly sprout a set of Andorian antennae. The plain truth was she had trouble letting go. Not allocating duties: she couldn't captain the ship otherwise. But if there was extra work, she did it. Great, when she was a kid and her mom had chores that needed doing. Terrible, now that she was a captain and short an officer, and couldn't even tag ops to take over because Bat-Levi was still on psychiatric probation, and that new psychiatrist, Whatshisname, Tyvan, hadn't given his blessing yet and...

She put both hands in the small of her complaining back and arched. "Next time, Garrett, you don't let your first officer go on R and R when you don't have backup. Next time, you tell that Nigel Holmes that he..."

She stopped abruptly -- talking and stretching. Mercifully, her little voice decided this was one time she didn't require commentary, or a restatement of the obvious: that Nigel Holmes -- her former first officer and maybe a little more than just a friend, though she would never, ever admit that to anyone, much less herself -- was dead and had been very dead for over six months now. Except her subconscious didn't want to let him go, did it? Nosiree, she thought, forestalling that little voice. No, and we both know why, don't we? Samir al-Halak's your first officer now, and yes, he is away on R and R and it was rotten timing, only you're not sure you like Halak very much because he isn't Nigel and can never be Nigel, and so you let him go even when you shouldn't have, and that's because you can't let Nigel alone, can you? That's why you've tightened up around the ship, not trusting the crew to pitch in when you need the help, right? Right?

"Wrong," she said, out loud. "Wrong, wrong, you are so wrong."

Blinking, she tried focusing on the pulsing red letters that made up the duty roster -- stellar magnetometry, this time around, a chuckle a minute -- and failed, miserably, because the letters wavered and refused to coalesce into anything recognizable and that was because she was ready to burst into tears.

I don't have time for this. She pushed up from her desk. You idiot, you don't have time for this. Coffee, go get yourself some coffee.

Trying very hard not to think, she crossed to a small cabinet below her replicator, stooped and pulled out a grinder, her stash of beans. She popped the vacuum lid and inhaled, gratefully. Nothing like the aroma of fresh coffee beans, and nothing like a good cup of fresh-brewed coffee. Garrett didn't trust the mess chef (nothing against the man; she didn't trust anyone to brew a cup just the way she liked it -- that damned problem letting go again), and she couldn't stand replicator coffee. Replicator brew tasted...well, artificial. Like burnt plastic.

The grinder was whirring so loudly she almost didn't hear the hail shrilling from her companel. Just a cup of coffee -- she crossed back to her desk and killed the hail with a vicious jab at her comswitch -- just one lousy cup of coffee in peace and quiet, that's all she was asking, and why couldn't they leave her alone? "Yes?"

There was an instant's startled silence, and Garrett had time to reflect that she sounded as if she might just order a full spread of photon torpedoes if whoever was calling uttered one more word. Then a reedy voice sounded through the speaker. " for you, Captain."

Great. Garrett blew out, exasperated. Super. Bite off the man's head, why don't you? Clear the decks, folks, the captain's on a rampage. Lieutenant Darco Bulast was a fine communications officer, and however angry she was at herself for the weird twists and turns her mind was taking this evening, or this morning, or whatever the hell time it was, beating up on the rotund little Atrean wasn't fair, or very captainlike, for that matter. "Thank you, Mr. Bulast. From whom?"

Bulast told her, and then there was another moment's silence, only this time it was because Garrett's emotions, now a mix of apprehension and sudden remorse, were doing roller-coaster somersaults and double loop-de-loops for good measure. And this time the only voice inside her head was pure Rachel Garrett: Oh my God, it's Ven, and I forgot again, oh, that's just great, that is juuusssst perfect....

There'd be hell to pay, no way she could duck it, and could things get any worse? Could they? Sure, probably, why not, this was her lucky day, right? Quickly, she glanced at her reflection in her blanked desk monitor, and squinted. She didn't like what she saw. Her complexion was pale, as were her lips. Purple shadows brushed the hollows beneath her walnut-brown eyes, and her auburn hair, usually so neat and smooth it looked held in place with electrostatic charge, was in disarray courtesy of her restless fingers pulling, prodding, twirling as she'd perused the duty rosters and other effluvia normally reserved for officers other than captains. Plainly put, she looked as if she'd been stranded on a planetoid for a month with a canteen, a week's worth of survival rations, no blanket, and nothing to read. And then, in the very next instant, she figured to hell with how she looked; she doubted her looks had much to do with how Ven Kaldarren felt about her these days anyway. She said, "I'll take it in here, Mr. Bulast, thank you."

"No problem, Captain," said Bulast, and Garrett heard the relief. "But I..."

"Yes, Mr. Bulast?"

"Well, it's the signal, Captain. It's not on a priority channel and it's not scrambled. But it's not registered either."

"You mean that you can't tell which ship it's coming from?"

"That's right. It's as if, well, I guess you could say that whoever's making the call wants a certain degree of anonymity."

"I see." Unregistered ships weren't unheard of, and certainly not registering a ship that wasn't under Federation jurisdiction wasn't a crime. She dredged up what Kaldarren had told her about the xenoarcheological expedition he'd signed up for. Precious little: they weren't talking much these days, even less now that the custody battle for Jason was behind them. Then she gave up the exercise as pointless. Kaldarren could do what he wanted, whenever he wanted. That was a reason they'd divorced, right?

"Thanks for the information, Mr. Bulast. I'll follow up on it. Now put the call through, please."

"Aye, Captain," and then her companel winked to life, revealing the unsmiling face of her ex-husband. And, damn it, the sight of him still took her breath away. She was used to thinking of Betazoid men as being almost androgynous: slender, dark-eyed, smooth-skinned. Ven was unapologetically different. Always had been, and probably that was the attraction. They'd met in 2316, a year after Garrett's graduation from the academy. By then, she was a lieutenant and posted aboard the Argos. Ven was part of a Betazoid delegation of xenoarchaeologists the Argos had transported to a Federation Archaeology Council symposium on Rigel III. Ven had hulked above the other Betazoids. Standing at a hair under two meters, Ven was broad in the shoulders and muscular; unlike his comrades, he wore his black wavy hair long, and his Betazoid eyes were...

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a prime example of something I've seen in quite a few first novels - the author, at the beginning, is still writing short stories. Each chapter is its own little self-contained story, only about one or two characters, and so the book is choppy and overwritten.
Then, about 1/3 of the way through, we finally start getting introduced to the rest of the ship's crew, little by little, and there start being more complex scenes.
By the last third, the book is in fine Star Trek form - space battles, shattering plot twists, brilliantly realized characters, etc, etc. In short, everything you've come to expect from the truly outstanding Lost Era thus far. Granted, a little darker than the first three, but still very much a Star Trek novel.
The problem is that the whole book isn't as good as the last third - the first third is slow, plodding, and doesn't flow at all, and the second third is mediocre at best.
I look forward to Bick's next novel - by the end of this one, she had really figured out how to do this right - but this one just didn't hold together well enough.
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As has been mentioned before, the last third of this book is great. However, I would go further and say that it as exciting as anything ever presented in Star Trek lore-- print OR screen. The threads of the story come together nicely and provide a most satisfying payoff.
But I feel that some of the other reviews here are giving the rest of the book short shrift. Halak's story is a mystery hidden in an enigma, and I followed it raptly through ALL its twists and turns. Likewise, the Garrett/Ven, Bat-Levi, Ven, and Jase/Pahl plots-- these are flawed, full-bodied characters that enable us to care ABOUT them as well as what HAPPENS to them. Even though there is an abundance of plot here (especially the Halak/Batra/Orion/Qatala/SI etc.etc. angle), this is a character-driven story, and as such is not compelled to offer up as much action as we may be accustomed to with Star Trek. This is not a bad thing! One of the great thing about the Star Trek books (besides the fact that they can present visuals [aliens,worlds]that would be hard to portray on film) is that they can take more time with the story and character development. So as long as you're not looking for an out-and-out actioner, Well of Souls is "well" worth a read.
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By A Customer on Oct. 26 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Finally, someone gives us Trek characters with real problems, real emotions, and real foibles. I loved this book, not just because I love Trek but because Bick's written some terrific short fiction including "A Ribbon for Rosie" (a prize-winner which always makes me cry), "Shadows, in the Dark" (another prize-winner that thought of putting Seven of Nine together with Chakotay before they became an "item"). She just did a great story in NO LIMITS, a New Frontier anthology, and she's got stories on SCIFICTION. Bick really knows how to put dialogue in the mouths of her characters so they sound like real people. I don't think I've ever read a Trek book where people were in real anguish and didn't always make the right choices, or like the ones they made. I loved that Bick was brave enough to make Garrett less than perfect, and have her know it, too. Yet Garrett was a hero, too. All Bick's characters were terrific, and it's hard to pick my favorite because I wanted to see more of just about all of them. In particular, I wanted to see what happened to Kodell and Bat-Levy. The way Bick handled their love affair was terrific and had me in tears. And, wow, the way she showed the psychiatrist character was super. Usually, counselors sound too canned, or silly, and personally I hated Deanna Troi because she always said things that were so obvious. But Tyvan was right on. He made mistakes, too, and in a way that made him human and not just a talking head.
I've loved all the Lost Era books. But I hope this is the beginning of a series of Enterprise C books, with Bick at the helm. She's a great writer.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In the far past of an alien world, the line of the Night Kings ends with a prince too cowardly to take Uramtali - the goddess of the Well of Souls, the immortal dithparu - into his body. On present-day (2336) Farius Prime, a place not visited by decent or even prudent Federation citizens, Commander Samir al-Halad battles his ugly past in hope of saving the few people from that past who matter to him - and of keeping the person he loves most in his new life alive, too. Aboard the starship Enterprise, Captain Rachel Garrett grieves for a friend and first officer whose life she couldn't save; damns herself for letting that XO's replacement, Halad, go on "R & R" at a time when she desperately needs backup; and fences by subspace communications with a Betazoid xeno-archaeologist who is her still-beloved ex-husband. She's missed their son's twelfth birthday, and can't even manage a conversation with young Jason now without having her ship's needs interrupt it.
I spent the first half of "Well of Souls" wondering how the author would bring together these and at least one other story line. Bick's characters captured me immediately as each appeared, and her graphically written action scenes proved wrenching because I cared about the people experiencing them. But what did Samir al-Halad's secrets, Rachel Garrett's ex-husband (on his way to a dig in Cardassian space that Ven Kaldarren knows isn't a much better place for young Jason than a starship, but what else can a father with full physical custody do except take the boy along?), Lieutenant Commander Darya Bat-Levi's efforts to fit in on her new assignment aboard Enterprise, and the Night Kings from long ago all have to do with each other?
It comes together beautifully in the book's second half.
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