|In Short:||The team reaches out to their ally/enemies Todd and the Genii in an attempt to save Rodney.|
|"If Rodney gives over to the Wraith what he knows, we cannot stand against them."|
This book is a direct continuation of Homecoming, so if you haven't read that one, do yourself a favor and check it out before you even think about reading this review.
When last we left our team, they had been ambushed by the Wraith and Rodney McKay was taken prisoner. They immediately begin brainstorming ways to save him without running afoul of the new Queen Death that's wreaking havoc in the Pegasus Galaxy. Sheppard, Carson and Teyla are sent to negotiate with Ladon Radim of the Genii, while Ronon and Keller meet with Todd. The Genii tease that they have information about where McKay was taken, but in exchange they want the team to travel to a supposedly barren planet to salvage a crashed Ancient warship. There's no danger, but the distance between the Gate and the ship is too far to travel on foot. A puddle jumper would make it feasible.
Unfortunately, things aren't as easy as all of that. Wraith Darts are waiting at the Gate and the team crash-lands in the wasteland. The choice is made to continue to the wreck rather than going back to certain death or imprisonment back at the Stargate. The plan is to fix the Ancient warship and then use it to escape. The presence of the Wraith destroys what shaky faith the Atlantis team had in the Genii, causing tensions to rise between the team and Radim's sister. To make matters worse, Carson is badly injured during the trek to the crash, making their situation even more dire.
Ronon and Keller, meanwhile, are sent to a supposedly safe meeting place to meet up with Todd to find out what information he might have on Rodney's disappearance. Almost immediately upon arrival Todd turns the tables on them. He orders them to send away the cloaked puddle jumper they had as added security, and then leads them away from the Stargate to a village of Wraith worshipping humans.
Meanwhile, in the biggest shocker and “omg the authors did what?!” part of the novel, the Wraith that kidnapped Rodney are conducting an experiment of their own. They make Rodney into a reverse-Michael, transforming him into a Wraith and erasing his memory. As far as he knows he's a Wraith scientist named Quicksilver. He's haunted by dreams of former Wraith queens -- Elizabeth and Carter, known as She Who Is a Strong Place and She Who Carries Many Things in Wraith-speak -- and is visited by Elizabeth much like Teal'c saw Daniel in the SG-1 episode “The Changeling” (06.19). He has to struggle with his confusion while the Wraith try to use him to gain access to Atlantis.
I said that the first book was like the first episodes of a new season, and this book is a continuation of that season. The authors have the benefit of bringing in special guest stars without having to worry about whether or not the actors are available, so it leads to a lot of great situations we never would have seen on television. I've really enjoyed seeing Sam Carter visit Atlantis in the way Caldwell once did, and her return in this story was great. A laughing, happy (drunk) Sam Carter is something that will always be welcome in my reading.
The size of a book also allows the authors to explore more stories. In addition to the plots I mentioned above, which felt like episodes all by themselves, there was a subplot about Lorne and Zelenka facing the challenges their new home presents. I particularly enjoyed the idea of some poor pigeons inadvertently hitching a ride when Atlantis left Earth. Those birds really do get in everything, don't they?
If you read and liked Homecoming, this is more of the same. Whether that's a good or bad thing depends on how you felt about that first novel. Two stories in, this series is already very consistent. The authors have plots planned out and character arcs that they're following very carefully, and you can see it on the page that they care about these characters and these stories. They're fans and they know how important it is to get this right.
The first novel hinted toward a relationship forming between John and Teyla, and this book carries that a bit further. Be warned if that's something you'd prefer to be warned about. So far it's not too intrusive or beyond what you might see on the show, but it's straddling the fence for the most part of the book (there's a little something at the end the non-shippers may want to skip).
The book ends on a cliffhanger. Not as bad as the last one, in my eyes, but still big. I'm sticking by my "new season" comparison. The only difference is that we only get three or four episodes and then it's back to waiting for the next batch to start. If the authors keep up this sort of quality, the wait shouldn't be too much of a hardship.
-- Geonn Cannon