The Goddess hunts …
Just four days after Major Kawalsky’s death, Colonel Jack O’Neill leads the newly commissioned SG-1 on their first mission through the Stargate.
Their destination is Chalcis, a peaceful society at the heart of the Helos Confederacy of planets. But Chalcis harbors a dark secret, one that pitches SG-1 into a world of bloody chaos, betrayal and madness. Battling to escape the living nightmare, Dr Daniel Jackson and Captain Samantha Carter soon begin to realize that more than their lives are at stake. They are fighting for their very souls.
But while O’Neill and Teal’c struggle to keep the team together, Daniel is hatching a desperate plan that will test SG-1’s fledgling bonds of trust and friendship to the limit …
Review by Alli Snow and Skydiver
Primarily set on one of five planets of the Confederation of Helos and laced with more Greek references than Clash of the Titans, Sacrifice Moon is a harmless Stargate adventure taking place in the early days of the program.
Embarking on their first mission together since “The Enemy Within,” SG-1 stumbles across what seems to be a perfectly welcoming planet: P3X-595, full of Greeks literally bearing gifts. In typical SG-1 fashion, Jack and the kids run afoul of the local authorities on the planet Chalcis and are added to their sacrifice; all four members of the team are bound, drugged, and tossed through the gate. They emerge on the other side to find a sandy, windswept ruin of a city.
Marooned with a sabotaged D.H.D., it doesn’t take SG-1 long to discover the secret of this planet. Citizens from the planets of the local confederation are regularly sent through, and the one thing they all have in common is that all of them are wearing ornate necklaces containing milky white stones. After running into several scared and battered refugees and hearing odd warnings about the “coming of the moon,” the members of SG-1 try to sleep, only to have their slumber disturbed by realistic and terrifying dreams.
These dreams bear the first hints of the ultimate “booby trap” … something on this planet is slowly and surely changing them. And it is a change that few survive.
Warriors are weakened and grow increasingly indecisive, while the scholars are pumped up and aggressive, their inhibitions and civilized behavior fading away in a frightening display, the likes of which I’ve only seen during an after-Thanksgiving sale. This altering of behaviors and attitudes puts an incredible strain upon the fledgling trust that has only begun to develop between the members of SG-1.
Author Julie Fortune’s characterizations are largely believable and relatively close to my own interpretations of the characters in early Season One. Jack and Sam share a few teasing comments as both characters test the bounds of commander / subordinate and explore each other’s personal tolerances. Both Daniel and Sam play the enthusiastic scholars. Jack suffers a bit from “super soldier syndrome” a time or two, especially in regard to his tolerance for pain. Unfortunately, Teal’c doesn’t do much other than flex his muscles and explore the dangers of commissary cuisine, although there is a nice scene between him and Daniel as the wounds of Sha’re’s possession are still fresh and remain a sore spot between them.
Sacrifice Moon was obviously heavily researched, although there were times when the Greek names or phrases (like “Alsiros,” “Iphigenia,” and “Laonides”) slow down the reading with their unfamiliar pronunciations. The ponderous details about military protocol, like an obsession with the niceties of M.R.E.s, also seemed to have less to do with the plot and more to do with simply filling the pages.
This attention to detail does help to paint a rich picture, but it also hampers the flow of the story. The reader discovers precisely how much stuff Daniel brings to a briefing (books, coffee cup, pens, leather binder, and a folder) and that he apparently has never learned how to be on time or set the alarm on a digital watch. (Poor guy. Bet he never gets his VCR set right either.)
A high point of the book is the way in which the author takes the characters out of their comfort zones. Scholars became warriors, and warriors become victims. However, it was a twist that ends up largely unexplored; the scholars still end up with the idea to save the day while the warriors flex their muscles — and poor Teal’c again ends up carrying one of his teammates.
There are some nice references to Season Seven continuity, namely a cameo by Major Dixon and SG-13. The story usually flows well, even though it never reached “page turner” status for me. At no point in time did I ever think that anything truly dramatic would happen — perhaps because of the fact that the story is set in early Season One, or maybe because of my knowledge that nothing in the book would contradict canon. This isn’t all the author’s fault; writing a book like this puts the writer in the unenviable position of leaving all of the characters intact and with no major changes by the final page.
So I knew as I read page one that the story would end with a return to status quo and all the toys would be neatly put away. It was just a matter of how twisty and challenging the road was going to be.
Unfortunately, in the case of Sacrifice Moon, the road is about as twisty and challenging as an interstate highway. There are several places where a plot twist would be welcome — perhaps in the final identity of the Goa’uld, or maybe another stumbling block in the way of SG-1 attaining their freedom. But both of these opportunities were ignored as the author took the quicker and simpler way out.
The story’s conclusion is a bit rushed and a little like a box of Girl Scout cookies: they look really good in the picture on the box, but then you open it and you discover that for your $3.50 you only get 16 cookies that are gone far too soon. Some elements that could have filled in the holes: exploring Daniel and Sam’s feelings as they start to lose themselves in the pull of the moon, or Teal’c’s feelings as he grows weak (something we know from “Orpheus” is a feeling that Jaffa equate with death).
This story is a good example of a story that could have been told in SG-1‘s inaugural season, hesitant on the character development front and willing to accept the odd cliché. The characters are largely pigeonholed into the roles of the sarcastic leader, the brilliant but socially inept archaeologist, the female soldier, and the alien muscle. It should appeal to fans of Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson because of its focus on those characters, but those readers waiting for standout moments for Carter or Teal’c could be disappointed in their under-utilization.
Sacrifice Moon is a decent read and non-taxing way to kill an afternoon, but not one I am dying to re-read anytime soon.
Rating: * * 1/2