I continued to work on The All-Stars, and completed a first draft. I started on the second planned story in the series, called Play. I continued adding to the Star Trek Expanded Universes Wiki, and I feel it is helping a bit with promoting my work.
Ad Astra added a book club, Boldly Reading, and a blog to go with it. Miranda Fave and I were put in charge of it, and I was made a Deputy Archivist (jg) for my efforts, which was grand.
I split the Timeline into two pieces as it had gotten truly unwieldy. It will probably be split a few more times.
This Month’s Productivity Killers
Boldly Reading made me suddenly very, very busy. Everybody wants to have their work reviewed! Which is terrific, but we had ramp-up time and so things were a bit pleasantly chaotic.
I was also, again, dealing with both looking for work and family/personal issues, which sometimes caused writer’s block. There was a lot on my plate!
Will is meant to be a verygood-looking African-American man, and Gibson fits the bill perfectly.
Gentle and loving, Will wants everything to be perfect with Blair. She is his world.
But his world is crashing downwards, as he is failing out of his classes. In order to be able to stay with her, he does the unthinkable.
And when it does not work, Pamela reports, in Together, that Will hangs himself.
Fellow medical student Blair Claymore is all that Will feels he needs. They seem to be the golden couple, ideal in every way. They also set up a contrast to Malcolm and Pamela’s odd relationship, with its tug of war.
If Will had lived, undoubtedly, he would have proposed.
There are no impediments to Will having a Mirror Universe counterpart.
I have never written him, but I can envision a Will in the mirror as being nasty and probably a ladies’ man. He has never been written on the ISS Defiant, and Empress Hoshi would have noticed if such a good-looking man was on her ship.
But there are plenty of other places where a mirror guy could lurk.
“Yes, I know, California girl. And I love the color of your skin. The difference means nothing to me.”
A tragic figure, Will is doomed even before the start of Intolerance and, unless I can write some sort of origins or mirror tale for him, he won’t be seen again.
When I was first writing Star Trek: Enterprise fanfiction, and following the five senses, I got to sight last.
Instead of writing just about sight, I decided to create a multi-chapter story and more or less go for broke.
I also disliked how little screen time Travis got, so I decided to give him a little love with a story all his own.
In the middle of the night, Travis is pulled out of his bed and dumped … somewhere. But he’s not alone.
There are people from a few canon species – Andorians, Vulcans, Xindi sloth, Orions and Klingons. There are two of each, one male and one female. He doesn’t know the human woman he’s paired with; she is a far older woman, she speaks Russian and she is a librarian at the Lunar Colony Library.
And then they start to be prodded into working out a series of problems. For better or worse, they learn that they have to work together.
The story is … okay. It’s not great. I have updated it a bit (Lili makes a quick appearance), although I really should have done more. The plotting is slow in parts, and it can drag and be rather talky. There are original characters, and I’m glad that I felt confident enough in my world-creating abilities to add them, but some are wooden and others are more three-dimensional but still not too well-defined. Not too bad for a mystery tale, but I have learned that it is better to give more information about characters, in order to give the reader something to hold onto while reading.
It could be better, and probably a lot better. But it taught me a lot about story creation and pacing, and so I am grateful for its existence.
Boldly Reading’s prompt #7, Music and Writing, asks the following musical questions –
Music, for many of us, is a part of the writing process. It might inspire us. We might need it to get started, or motivated, or to finish. We might give characters their own theme songs or might follow along with the lyrics as they pull us into a different direction. We might even write songfics.
Your blogging mission is therefore to answer questions like this –
Does music inspire you in your writing? Do any characters have a song that just clicks for you? Do any character relationships have songs (e. g. they’re playing our song)? Do lyrics inspire you? Do rhythm, beats and instruments inspire? Is one genre preferred to another? Do any of your characters sing or play instruments? Do any of your stories or characters have play lists?
Have you ever used music to set a scene or a mood? Do you feel it was successful? Have you read others’ musical connections to fan fiction? Did the music help in your enjoyment of the piece(s), or did it detract?
Many of my characters have theme songs, or they share them in couples. In addition, the HG Wells stories are heavily musical, partly as a mood creator but also to evoke certain years. It would be a lot to repeat all of that. Hence, rather than doing that, I’d like to talk about a few times when I think music really was a part of telling the story.
Day of the Dead
For Day of the Dead, I wanted to evoke the mood of Halloween, spookiness and horror. In particular, I wanted to move the mood from jokey, unreal, fictional horrors, such as are seen on a movie screen, to the very real and memorable and gut-wrenching horrors of a concentration camp. Further, I wanted to end, not so much on a happy note as on one of a set of lessons having been learned. And so the music, which starts off with tunes like Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s Monster Mash, segues into eventually the Manhattan Transfer’s Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone to Golden Earring’s Twilight Zone to, finally, Ministry’s Everyday is Halloween.
The mood should absolutely darken, leaving the reader, when it’s all over, with a sense that Tripp Tucker‘s final days are pretty dark ones. The idea was, not only to tell the story, but also to give a bit of life to the explanation in the canon episode, These Are the Voyages, that he and T’Pol had broken up years earlier and had never reconciled.
While it doesn’t have music actually in the fan fiction itself, Crackerjack has always been posted with links to period music. Although Joe DiMaggio isn’t in the story, I’ve always posted Les Brown’s Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, as it’s accurate to the time period and is of course about baseball. I tend to use Artie Shaw’s Frenesi as the love theme for Geordi LaForge and Rosemary Parker. I also like ending with Frank Sinatra’s Oh, Look at Me Now as it’s an optimistic song with an eye toward a happy future.
This story has gone through a number of twists, and the soundtrack is somewhat complicated, but the song I particularly liked adding was Cream’s Swlabr, which absolutely, to my mind, captured Seymour Sonia’s drug trip.
I know I have sometimes allowed lyrics to dictate my writing a little too much. I will be the first to admit that. And I’ve also added music sometimes where, maybe, it didn’t need to be. On the Radio had a ton of music listed, and it followed Donna Summer’s lyrics a bit, but I also wanted to use it as a direct sequel to More, More, More! which is a disco party. Further, I wanted to evoke a dance, not so much tripping the light fantastic but, rather, the dance of two people and their attraction. One step forward, two steps back, as it were. But I know it didn’t quite work out as well as I wanted it to.
For every song, and every lyric, the results are, I think, mixed. Do they add to the mood? Sometimes. But they can sometimes threaten to overwhelm it, and I know I can sometimes use them as too much of a crutch. I like using music in my writing, but the effects aren’t always as I intend them to be.
Then again, Otra D’Angelo got this song. And, at least to me, it feels just right.
Of course, time travel is canon in Star Trek. And by the time of Daniels, it’s not only semi-routine, it’s even got a department devoted to it. This is first called the Department of Temporal Investigations, but it settles into, eventually, the Temporal Integrity Commission, which is what I call it for my 31st and 32nd century characters.
With the Times of the HG Wells series of eight stories, plus a few extras thrown in, I’ve got thousands of words written about time travel, both voluntary and involuntary.
But this post will just be about people who travel in time because they want to, and they mean to, rather than are pulled there unwittingly, or against their will.
While there are other time travelers in this series of stories, these are the main ones seen.
A music and arts specialist is particularly helpful during various side missions that have to do with music, but he’s being separated from the other time travelers in order to keep him from talking about what he’s seen during A Long, Long Time Ago.
This half-Witannen agent can see temporal alternatives. Her childhood is briefly shown in Desperation.
The only canon character in the group, this melancholy agent beds women in time in order to assuage his grief, tamp down his guilt and mask his loneliness. In November 13th, he meets Lucretia Crossman. In Marvels, he meets Irene of Castile. In Souvenirs, he remembers them, and others, and Milena Chelenska.
In Temper, and in Fortune, it’s established that he is at least a descendant of Lili and Malcolm, but he’s apparently also at least a descendant of Chip and Deb, as his mother’s maiden name is Masterson.
The department’s doctor rarely travels, mainly because he’s a hybrid of human, Klingon and Xindi sloth. Boris is also having an affair with Marisol.
This engineer for the Calafan unit is romanced by Kevin O’Connor after his wife’s death.
Time travel, to my mind, can sometimes require rather specialized knowledge, beyond even engineering and the use of weapons. A balanced, diverse and admittedly quirky team has done the job here, and they have done it with flair. They’ll be back.
At the end of Reversal, Doug tells Lili that Jay had a sister. In order to keep that sister, Laura, from just stumbling across a news story about him, Doug rather sensitively decides to change his surname to Beckett. This is also a symbol of Doug’s commitment to our universe, and to Lili, and to leaving his old life behind as he never intends to return to the Mirror. And so Laura was born.
This actress has always seemed very smart to me (although the character she plays is rather ruthless, and Laura is not). I can see her playing an attorney attached to various diplomatic missions.
Very smart and organized, Laura is, as she says to Lili in Together, “not the marrying kind”. Her work takes her to various diplomatic situations. In Achieving Peace, she works for the Andorian ambassador, T’Therin, and they are both present when the treaty with the Romulans is signed, thereby ending the Federation-Romulan War, in 2160. Ambassador Soval is also there, as is the Xindi ambassador, a sloth woman named Chara Sika.
By the time of Fortune, she has become a judge, and she officiates at Malcolm and Lili’s wedding.
During the E2 kick backs in time, Jay and Lili consider naming their first child after her, if they have a daughter. But they have a son instead, Jeremiah Logan, and so none of their children are named Laura Jayne. At the end of Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, it is revealed that she is working for the law firm of Koenig & Brooks, a firm that shows up, much later in the timeline, as being the firm employing Darragh Stratton Yarin’s divorce attorney in Shake Your Body.
Doug never had a sister, and so Laura does not have a counterpart in the Mirror Universe.
“I am, I know it’s impossible. But I could swear that you were my brother’s doppelganger. Although perhaps you’re aged forward in time a year or so. Jay died in 2153. Six years ago. At least our parents didn’t survive to see that.”
Smart and capable, I haven’t found a lot for Laura to do yet. She’s mentioned in passing whenever someone needs a lawyer (Doug briefly mentions her when Malcolm is in legal trouble during Shell Shock), but there aren’t a lot of occasions when Laura is really showcased. I suppose if I write more legally-centric stories, she might have an occasion to shine.
Having declared herself Empress, Hoshi has to consolidate her power. She has to eliminate threats and pick up allies. This means ruthless Machiavellian efficiency.
Furthermore, she has to get rid of the Emperor, who I write as a descendant of canon mass murderer Philip Green. Green brings along only three bodyguards, foolishly underestimating her bloodlust – José Torres, Brian Delacroix, and Andrew Miller.
I like how it turned out. In particular, I enjoyed putting together Hoshi’s plan and showing her nastiness. Her impatience with science and with delays, her casual approach to murder and her lust are all on display. I’m very pleased with the final product.
On Boldly Reading, it was recently asked, how do you write complex evil characters?
More specifically – how do you write evil characters who are not mere caricatures? Do you find ways to garner sympathy, even for the wicked (or the devil, perhaps?)? Do you surprise your readers by turning a character from good to evil, or evil to good? How grey is the shading?
Which evil characters have you enjoyed writing the most?
Which evil character, created by another author, have you enjoyed reading the most?
Which canon evil character do you enjoy watching or reading the most?
Like the creation of any other Star Trek fanfiction original characters, the bad guys spring up as needed. Some get more back story than others as they are created, while others receive detail as needed, possibly stretched out over time. I get to know characters, as they begin to move me, and then I feel more comfortable giving them some specifics. They need motivations, and they usually need brakes of some sort. While a lot of people may be good for the sake of being good, I believe that most people aren’t, truly, evil simply for the sake of being evil (perhaps I’m a little optimistic that way).
Hence I think the way I’ll answer this is by listing some of my favorite own evil creatures – I mean, creations, and will comment thereupon.
It takes a supreme effort of will for this killer to come clean and turn his life around. But until Doug does, he has personally killed fourteen men, is responsible for the death of one woman and has pulled the trigger for countless phaser bank deaths, including being a part of committing genocide on the Xindi people.
Once he comes to the prime universe, he has to rein in his temper, but he never kills again.
Jeremiah Hayes (mirror)
Committed to getting Doug into a good school and nipping any possibility in the bud of his only child becoming a mama’s boy, Jeremiah may or may not be abusing his wife, Lena, as Doug is thrown to the wolves at a young age (Paving Stones Made From Good Intentions).
Another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists, at least Gary confesses his misdeeds, before his death, thereby cracking that case wide open.
Never seen, but definitely felt, Edward raped and abused Pamela Hudson from age five until she escaped the family home (Intolerance).
Linda Morgan Hudson
As her husband abused and raped their younger daughter, Pamela, Linda did nothing to stop things and, eventually, lets her daughters know that she, too, was abused by Edward Hudson (Saturn Rise).
Empress Hoshi’s third-born is a whiz at numbers and collects the taxes in the Terran Empire. Arashi is probably the most feared, and is most likely to become a 1984-style tyrant (fortunately, he never comes to power) (Temper).
Empress Hoshi’s youngest, Izo enforces the collections of both taxes and gambling debts from Game Night, and tries unsuccessfully to force Leah Benson to service him (Bread). In an alternate timeline, he bullies Pamela Hudson, but she turns the tables on him (Temper).
This character is something of a village gossip, spouting off homophobic slurs and generally making everyone uncomfortable (Reflections Down a Corridor, Entanglements). Her tongue is so sharp, and her remarks are so cutting, that Ethan Shapiro becomes distraught, and attempts suicide, in part due to her nastiness.
José Torres (mirror)
José, a sweet and gentle giant in the prime universe, is rewarded for a massacre of innocents by being given three women as playthings – Pamela Hudson, Blair Claymore and Karin Bernstein, who he regularly abuses (Temper).
A psychopath, Marisol keeps it together for a while, but eventually throws off her assignment to seduce Boris Yarin and begins to blackmail him, threatening to tell his wife everything (Shake Your Body). She also kills Perfectionists operative Anthony Parker in order to keep him quiet (You Mixed-Up Siciliano), and attempts to kill Richard Daniels and Sheilagh Bernstein.
Only evil in Multiverse II, Otra is a Witannen, with symbiotic chavecoi on her head. When they are possessed by evil Chilo, she is pushed to commit bad acts, but she eventually throws off control, and makes an effort to redeem herself.
Colonel Green’s wife is the power behind the throne and is one of the few constants as the Colonel is replaced over and over again in order to appease the Eastern Coalition and make it appear as if everything is just peachy in North America (Multiverse II).
Mostly a puppet of Liesl Green and the Chilo, Jared has no qualms about ratting out the heroes of Multiverse II.
After her death is faked in a shuttle crash on Berren One, Helen performs various missions for the Perfectionists (although she never sullies her hands with murder, like Marisol does), eventually taking over when her father, Milton, goes into hiding in the mirror universe (The Point is Probably Moot).
A misguided philanthropist, Milton thinks he’s doing good by altering history and, allegedly, improving it. But when Parker is killed under his direction, and Otra is kidnapped by his people (Spring Thaw), the Rubicon is crossed. He begins to realize that he is not much better than a mobster (He Stays a Stranger).
The doctor in the Human Unit is cheating on his wife, Darragh Stratton
(Ohio), with Marisol Castillo. When she begins to blackmail him, he ends up murdering her.
When his third-caste wife, Inta, refuses to have sexual relations with him, this Daranaean beats her so hard that she dies (Take Back the Night).
This physician helps to cover up Arnis’s crime, in exchange for research funding. When they are both convicted, he goes to prison. He secures an early release by assisting Dr. Trinning with finding a cure for the killer disease, thylacine paramyxovirus (Flight of the Bluebird).
Other Star Trek Fan Fiction Stories
In a fit of rage, precipitated by bullying, this hybrid human-Xindi Reptilian blinds a classmate (D’Storlin).
Victor is another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists, but he does his best to redeem himself, for the sake of his marriage.
This tyrant is responsible for the deaths of some 37 million individuals. In Multiverse II, it’s revealed that there have been fourteen separate versions, all trotted out to fool the masses and the Eastern Coalition.
Brooks aids and abets Patti Socorro’s rapists but does not commit the deed himself.
Neil is another one of Patti Socorro’s rapists. Much like Victor Brown, in order to save his marriage, he works hard to make up for his crime.
Sent to a mental institution because he’s seen lizard people and a chick with a ray gun, Loomis pleads his case for sanity, until he’s reminded that a finding of sanity would result in him being put on trial and likely found guilty of battery and murder (Detroit Rock City).
Travis Mayweather (mirror)
A petty thug raised to dizzying heights by Empress Hoshi, Travis commits his own petty and not so petty cruelties, including killing Brian Delacroix and trying to get Deborah Haddon to service him immediately afterwards (Reversal).
I don’t know her as well as I’d like to. After all, there is a great deal of back story to read. But between Chronicles and Multiverse II, Maria is … scary. She’s manipulative, she’s a temptress and she seems to embody everything that hero Hank Harrison wants, but realizes would rip him asunder.
And who doesn’t like that in a villain?
Looking over this post, it feels, a little, as if all I write are killers, rapists, abusers, blackmailers and tyrants. And then I remember, I’ve created over 300 original characters. This list just nicks the surface.
But I hope that these people, like their benevolent, fair, friendly and kind brethren, have a depth and a meaning to the reader. I hope that they feel real.
A focus (unlike a spotlight) is an in-depth look at a Star Trek fanfiction canon item and my twist(s) on it.
Of course, all of fan fiction is like that, but the idea here is to provide a window into how a single canon concept can be used in fan fiction.
With almost nothing to go on, Ikaarans were ripe for reinvention. The only person of even partial Ikaaran blood who is ever seen in canon is Karyn Archer.
The only alien characteristic that can be seen is the rather pronounced ridge running from her forehead to her nose. Her nose is also wider than most humans‘, although she might have had human ancestry providing that look. She also has crow’s feet, but those are more likely to be signs of aging and stress. Furthermore, she is apparently of Asian descent, which seems to indicate a kinship with Hoshi Sato or Dan Chang or any other Asian crew members rather than any Ikaaran features.
For the Ikaarans, my idea is that they would be speaking in clicks by choice, rather than necessity. But names would be spoken and, therefore, would be intoned more slowly.
There is no information on Ikaaran culture so all of this has been created by me. I decided to make their society completely against birth control, not even bothering to invent it. Therefore, their planet, Ikaaria, would be grossly overpopulated. In order to alleviate the burdens of a huge population, two things would happen to their society.
First, they would send their young people out to work, in single-sex work gangs. They would farm or mine, mostly, as a form of community service to their race. These work groups would go out every four years during one festival, and would be returned in another. By staying offworld, they would not consume as many resources. Plus they would create or obtain more resources, and bring them back at the end of their work commitments. In addition, they would be separate from the other gender during peak fertility years.
The other means of controlling the population would be more sinister. Instead of birth control, their genome would be altered by their scientists and, as a result, they would all have a kind of self-destruct sequence in their genes. They refer to the disease as the decline, and it is uniformly fatal, and kills Ikaarans before they turn 50. As a result, they don’t trust scientists much, and they don’t trust doctors. But they don’t need doctors.
Doctors aren’t needed because Ikaarans can heal themselves, and each other. They can heal members of other species, too, so long as the organs are more or less equivalent. In The Three of Us, the Ikaarans Jeris and Jobiram are able to heal Lili and Jay, but Jay has internal injuries that they cannot do anything about. In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, a weapon is devised by the Imvari and the Xindi Insectoids, and that weapon is specifically designed to counteract Ikaaran empathic healing. When that weapon, which uses percussive shock, is used, the victim must be attended to very quickly for doctors to be able to do anything at all.
In The All-Stars, the team’s trainer is an Ikaaran, thereby opening up the possibility of having many on-field injuries more or less instantly cured without rehabilitation. No more disabled list!
Romance and Family Life
Ikaarans are generally monogamous and enjoy humans’ company. The gift of a living thing is the equivalent of a marriage proposal. Ethan Shapiro gives Bithara a perfectly ripe orange as his proposal gift in The Three of Us. In Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Jonathan gives Esilia his dog, Daisy, as his proposal gift.
With the help of scientific information from Jobiram and Jeris, Phlox is able to perfect human-Ikaaran interbreeding, and hybrid children are born, including Karyn’s ancestor, Aaron Gregory Archer, named after Jonathan Archer‘s old friend, AG Robinson.
This species could have been fascinating in canon, but they are never really seen and the viewers don’t get to really know anyone. As a tabula rasa, they’ve been a lot of fun to create. I’ll try to find other occasions to show them, in addition to the upcoming sports series.
The prompts to date have been of a more reflective nature. Asking you to pose questions of yourselves. Not an easy thing to do. However, I think this next prompt is a little harder to do. I want you to sell yourself. Sell your story. Sell your character.
This is a little opportunity to give yourself a little love. This is a chance to advertise a story of yours you have a soft great big proud spot for. To talk our arms off about a character or characters of yours that you positively gush over. Perhaps maybe you’ve a story that’s been missed over or a character not quite got by the readership. Well, here’s your opportunity to tell us about them in your words. Don’t worry about it being egotistical (cos I’m telling you to do it – so there’s no vanity of vanities going on). Don’t suggest another person’s story/character to write about (cos that will be a prompt down the line). Just write about a story/series/character of yours you want to shine a light on.
In this canon story line, the NX-01 is shot back in time to 2037, and the ship turns generational. In canon, Hoshi marries and has two children, Toru and Yoshiko. Phlox marries MACO Corporal Amanda Cole and they have nine children. Jonathan weds an Ikaaran woman named Esilia. Tripp and T’Pol wed and have a son, Lorian. Travis marries MACO J. McKenzie (I name her Julie). And Malcolm dies without offspring.
Fairly recently, I wrote a series which encompasses this time period. I wanted to add an extra layer to it all, so there are actually two kick backs in time. One is, in some ways, happier than the other. But they both have their purposes.
Four books in total were written. The first of these is Reflections Down a Corridor. The crew begins to come to grips with the fact that they are never, ever going home again. People, tentatively, begin to explore each other. And the ship starts to commit to surviving in the Delphic Expanse. They obtain two planets, Amity and Paradise, and begin to hunt procul. But watch out for the malostrea! And, in addition to Xindi, the Enterprise also has to deal with a species from my own fiction, the Imvari.
The second book is dedicated more to the many hookups and relationships, both positive and negative, that such a scenario generates. It also contains some rather disturbing scenes. It’s called Entanglements and is the shortest of the four pieces.
The third book, The Three of Us, continues the first kick back in time, as the uneven ratio between men and women begins to be better resolved. The Ikaarans are brought onto the ship, and I have expanded their culture and physiology beyond the scraps that were shown in canon. While there is one main triad that is the three people of the title, there are other groups of three that the reader should be looking for. And this is also where Lili’s dreaming starts to get interesting, and her subconscious fears are allayed by dreams of the not yet born Doug Beckett. Even more disturbing scenes pepper this story, and a reference in Multiverse II will be made a bit clearer here.
The fourth and final book, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, brings the first kick back in time to 2154, as the second kick back occurs, and then slips in more final pieces of the puzzle as the second kick back (as in canon) meets the people of the prime timeline. And, after Jay’s canon death, his will is read, and bequests are given. Because the beginning of Everybody Knows is quite rough on the characters, Lili is again comforted subconsciously. But this time her comforter is Malcolm’s counterpart, the as-yet unborn Ian Reed, a character seen in the story Throwing Rocks at Looking Glass Houses. As in The Three of Us, disturbing sequences are placed within the story line, and readers of Multiverse II will recognize one character.
Why I’m Touting It
It’s not just because it’s a labor of love, dense with characters and plot. I also like the message of it, the overall arcs, too. Depression gallops among the crew. People do bad things. And they also do very good ones, and I like to think that the characters are believable. The below decks world is visited over and over again, and not just from Lili’s perspective. Time passes, and when you’re not exploring, that time is sometimes passed in odd ways. People say things about each other (or write them in log entries) that are cruel, or are kind, or are incomprehensible. Behavior is not always justified or understood. And that’s what real life is like.
I have seen other fan fiction about this time period, and it is often extremely ‘shippy. I will admit that Entanglements in particular is pretty darned relationship-centric. But in some ways it has to be. Time is ticking and people have got to get their ducks lined up. And they do so in strange ways, some of which are more romantic than others. And they sometimes have Buyer’s Remorse as well.
I also wanted to give it some action that occurs outside of bedrooms. A few battles are fought, and some nasty crimes are committed, which have consequences and aftershocks. Not everyone comes off well. Sometimes silly things happen, too. Through it all, the message, that real love is forever, and it crosses every plane we can think of, and a lot that we haven’t, is presented, hopefully loud and clear but not too heavy-handedly.
A great deal of work was put into working out the plotting and giving the characters their due. It’s a bit of a cast of thousands or at least dozens, and personalities don’t always shine through as well as maybe they should. But I like to think that most of the characters are knowable, even if they aren’t sympathetic.
There is a time commitment in reading this series, to be sure. But I hope that the reader feels rewarded at the end. And I hope that others will take a chance on it.