Steven Savile is an award-winning author, and after reading his Stargate SG-1 novel, “The Power Behind The Throne” indeed, I’ll admit that he’s a good writer. He has attention to detail when describing a scene as well as a good imagination.
However, I found the novel to be more of a fantasy story rather than science fiction. And while Savile created some interesting original characters, that’s unfortunately of what the book primarily consisted. Far too many pages go by with little to no mention of SG-1. Also the situation on Kushmara was filled with far more darkness and cruelty than anything I expected to find in a Stargate novel.
Then there’s the Mujina. An interesting creature except its abilities seemed far too fantastical to fit in with science fiction. For instance, it tells one of the characters:
“I am an army. I am death, eater of worlds. I am hope, breaker of dreams. I am everything, from the beginning, the alpha, the zero point, rushing through time to the end of days. I am it and it is I. How can I bring you the stars? Because I am made of stars. Their dust hardens my veins. I do not bleed, I crack and flake. I do not weep, I calcify …”
While forensic anthropologists can certainly extrapolate an extensive amount of information from long-dead bones, I found it difficult to believe that the Mujina could sense or read a lifetime of memories from deceased human remains. And considering that the Ancients left our galaxy millions of years ago, just how old was the Mujina supposed to be?
Another question I am left with is why SG-1 was worried about keeping the creature away from Apophis when Teal’c clearly stated in the book that Apophis was already dead? And just which Goa’uld sent his First Prime after the creature in chapter one?
Also, how did the Goa’uld Iblis come to be trapped on Kushmara in the first place? And how did he come to have an Islamic name when all the Goa’uld left Earth in the time of Ancient Egypt — somewhere around 3,000 B.C. — and Islam and the Qur’an weren’t around until after 600 A.D.?
Also, the whole story hinges on the idea that SG-1 can’t dial home because they don’t know the planet’s symbol for the point of origin. My understanding of the D.H.D. from the television series is that it has 38 symbols plus the point of origin of whatever planet it’s located on. The team never had to search for a point of origin on other planets, such as P3R-272 (Season Two’s “The Fifth Race”).
There were a few other holes in the storyline that could be pointed out, but not without totally spoiling the book for those who haven’t read it. I will add simply that the ending was rather unsatisfying. It definitely needed a few more pages, particularly from SG-1’s perspectives.
“The Power Behind The Throne” was not what I expected. While aspects of the book are good, overall it doesn’t meet the standards set up in previous Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis novels. But then, one person’s literary trash is another person’s literary treasure — just as SG-1 discovered that “one man’s hero is another man’s villain.”