No one gets left behind …
Five years after Major Henry Boyd and his team, SG-10, were trapped on the edge of a black hole (“A Matter of Time”), Colonel Jack O’Neill discovers a device that could bring them home. But it’s owned by the Kinahhi, an advanced and paranoid people, besieged by a ruthless foe. Unwilling to share the technology, the Kinahhi are pursuing their own agenda in the negotiations with Earth’s diplomatic delegation.
Maneuvering through a maze of tyranny, terrorism and deceit, Dr. Daniel Jackson, Major Samantha Carter and Teal’c unravel a startling truth — a revelation that throws the team into chaos and forces O’Neill to face a nightmare he is determined to forget. Resolved to rescue Boyd, O’Neill marches back into the hell he swore never to revisit. Only this time, he’s taking SG-1 with him …
Review by David Read
This is, quite possibly, one of the best works of fiction I have ever read. Fans who enjoyed “A Matter of Time,” loved “Abyss,” and appreciate Stargate episodes that don’t take place off-world 95 percent of the time will love A Matter of Honor.
A wonderful quality of this piece is that when the reader may begin to get bored, say, being on a certain planet, then the author will soon treat him to a return home and another adventure to a place that is familiar. From a memorial service on Earth to exiting the atmosphere of the planet containing Baal’s annexed outpost, author Sally Malcolm keeps the mind engaged.
Writing Jack O’Neill is easy. Writing Jack O’Neill in a way that is believable is not. Richard Dean Anderson’s spontaneity is nearly impossible to duplicate, and if you don’t balance the qualities of humor and sarcasm correctly then the formula for O’Neill is lopsided, incomplete, and potentially embarrassing. The result is a Jack from “Brief Candle” where the reader can tell that the writer is experimenting. Here Jack is duplicated exquisitely, and his banter with Daniel is true to form. A shining example is the following excerpt I could not help but share:
Jack asks how Daniel is doing. “Oh, I’ve been worse,” is his reply.
Jack retorts: “You’ve been dead.”
A handful of new characters are also introduced and properly fleshed out throughout the book. Senator Kinsey’s lapdog, the irritating and conniving Earth ambassador Bill Crawford, is no picnic like Joe Faxon, and is not afraid to push all of Jack’s buttons … simultaneously. Several scenes bring out the best of O’Neill on the verbal defensive.
Similarly is Councilor Damaris, seated leader of the Kinahhi on Tsapan, who is interested in trading their security technology (specifically the mind-reading “metal detector” sheh’fet) with Earth. But in classic Stargate lore, her motives are not entirely revealed, and she continually plots with Crawford behind closed doors.
The book has several messages poignant to all people in the post-9/11 world. Malcolm illustrates the fact that terrorism is not isolated on Earth. And, of course, the title gives away a lot as well. Time and again readers can hear Jack uttering the words, “We don’t leave our people behind.”
From cover to cover, the highlight for me is the fact that O’Neill knowingly, and willingly, lies to General Hammond at one point. It is something Jack has never done before, and the author makes certain that we feel the waves of guilt and foreshadows of regret. The wonderful thing is that it is entirely believable for him to lie in this situation. As with such controversial episodes as “Scorched Earth” and “Red Sky,” there is legitimacy in his choice to conceal the truth from his superior.
A Matter of Honor does not fail to deliver great team and character moments. It does not take place entirely on one planet (Tsapan), but we also return to Earth and see the team sharing some “time off” at Sam’s place, constructing a device that will ultimately be used in an attempt to free SG-10. As we all know these moments are few and far between on the show, so it’s nice to see just a couple of chapters directed at this family-oriented companionship that we expect with SG-1.
Hammond even gets to go off-world! Nearing the end of the book I had concluded that all of the main cast had at least one shining moment — with the exception of Teal’c. But then he gets his time in the spotlight, executing some cool maneuvers with a Tel’tak ship.
My only problem with the book happens at this same point. Teal’c does something with the cargo ship’s transport rings that, physically, does not quite add up. If it did indeed work, it would have been done with the X-301 in “Tangent”. So Malcolm may have pulled a fast one. Then, before you can blink, she does the “ring thing” again with Carter, but with a hair’s more plausibility. Read it for yourself and see if you agree.
The tension for recovering Henry Boyd and his team — lost to the time dilation of a black hole in the Season Two episode “A Matter of Time” — never abates. His suffering is kept continually in the back of Jack’s mind, and therefore in ours as well. When the prototype to rescue SG-10 is complete, and a power source has been obtained, SG-1 is left with the obvious question of what to do next. They can’t go home, and they can’t go back to Tsapan and Damaris’s claws. Kinsey is sitting on his doorstep looking up at the heavens, just waiting for SG-1 to return so that he can place them behind bars.
I am interested to see how Malcolm addresses the fact that a ton of volatile matter has been pumped through the 451 Stargate on at least one occasion, including molten matter from Vorash’s sun (“Exodus”) and possibly the entire Aschen homeworld. If she does not address this (after all of her work to flesh out and honor the show’s lexicon), here will sit one gravely disappointed fan.Either way, I cannot wait to find out.
Rating: * * * 1/2