The Root of All Rage is the sequel to the first Star Trek: Prometheus audiobook, a reading by Alec Newman of a novel by Bernd Perplies and Christian Humberg. Like the first one, it is slow to start. Also like the first one, the characterisation is somewhat thin.
The beginning of the novel features repeated conversations where characters complain to each other that the Prometheus hasn’t actually uncovered much about the terrorist attacks it was tasked to investigate in Fire With Fire. This kind of thing takes up something like the first two hours of the book, and it just highlights how poorly paced these novels are. Even the characters agree with me! It doesn’t help that when things do happen, they’re largely identical to what happened in Book One. In Fire With Fire, the Prometheus and Bortas investigated by sending away teams down to a Renao planet, where they met obstinate locals but ultimately didn’t learn much. This happens at two different planets in Root of All Rage, making much of the book feel like a banal retread.
Partway through, things threaten to boil over. Captain Adams on the Prometheus and his Klingon counterpart on the Bortas, Captain Kromm, repeatedly butt heads over the investigation throughout the first two books, but Kromm finally has enough and locks weapons on a Renao city, threatening to destroy it. The Prometheus must go into battle against its allies.
You might think this is the point where Captain Adams finally shows his mettle, but alas, it’s not to be. A subplot about Ambassador Lwaxana Troi on Earth finally reveals its relevance, when Lwaxana asks Picard to ask Worf to ask Martok to ask Kromm to not massacre civilians. It’s a bizarre writing choice, one that highlights the irrelevance of the book’s supposed central characters. From then on, I found the book particularly aggravating, as Adams continues to act like Kromm is just mildly aggravating — even though chapters ago, he was attempting to massacre unarmed civilians. Adams fails to impress as a Starfleet captain; the most he seems to be able to do to Kromm is threaten to tell on him to the Klingon High Council. I can’t imagine Kirk, Picard, Sisko, Janeway, Lorca, or even Archer being this defanged and ineffective. The book preaches a lot about ideals, but Adams comes across as particularly unable to back up his ideals with action. Kromm doesn’t respect Adams, and I’m with Kromm on this one.
The book struggles to balance its cast. The Prometheus characters are usually little more than ciphers (the Klingon characters are way more interesting), and for some reason a lot of time is spent on Lwaxana Troi’s antics in Paris. I think some of it is meant to be funny, but it never is. (Which I guess parallels most of what she did on screen.) I’m not sure why Alexander Rozhenko is in the book at all, as usually he just stands next to Spock in crowd scenes.
The last third of the book makes it more clear what’s been going on all along, tying back into a 1968 episode of the original series. I’m curious to see where this goes, but I’m worried it will end up undermining what little thematic complexity these books have.
Alec Newman continues to do a good job as narrator, his inability to master the argot of Star Trek aside. This volume adds Kang, Khitomer, Nausicaan, raktajino, V’Ger, and Vor’cha to this list of mispronunciations already established in Book One. I enjoyed his pretty good Patrick Stewart imitation.
For better or for worse (mostly worse on my part), this book is pretty much on par with its predecessor. If you liked that one, I guess you’ll like this; if you didn’t, you’ll find all its sins still in evidence here.
Fire With Fire (by Bernd Perplies, Christian Humberg; read by Alec Newman) was released by Big Finish Productions in July 2018.