The Dark Veil is a difficult book to place. Star Trek novelisations have never been fully integrated with one another but the in the last several years following the end of Enterprise and ‘New Trek’ a fairly well-established canon became established using a range of competent authors.
The books for the ‘New Trek’ have not been great, not bad, but not great. Even the Picard tie in novel was somewhat lacklustre. The Dark Veil focuses on the USS Titan now officially seen on screen in Lower Decks.
The book is written by James Swallow. Swallow is a fine author and wrote Book 6 of the Titan series, Synthesis. He has penned a whole series of Titan books that really played on the diversity aspects of the crew. He created some interesting characters and some excellent plots. The problem is that the timeline of the books put Riker in the Admirals seat much earlier than this book does.
The Picard series over wrote much of the existing novels and so this book has to tread the difficult line of being true to the crew of the Titan Swallow created and the new timeline of the Picard show. I think it is safe to say that the book does this. I miss the breadth of characters like Dr Ree, Ra-Havereii and Pazlar but just enough remained like Vale and Keru to make the place seem familiar.
The story itself was true Star Trek. It used the backdrop of the themes of Picard to explore a new race, the Jazari and expanded on the state of Romulan space in the build up to the supernova. We get a bit more motivation of the Zhat Vash and see an operational warbird Commander which is the Romulan equivalent of Riker.
The novel handles Riker and Troi excellently. One of the best elements of the book however was the introduction of Thaddeus. We learned of Riker and Troi’s son in the excellent Picard episode, ‘Nepenthe’. In that episode we didn’t get a feeling for who he was and whilst this didn’t harm the episode it did leave me wanting more. This book delivered the more, and did so in a way that only added to the tragedy of ‘Nepenthe’.
The action was well paced and Swallow writes well and understands the Star Trek ethos resulting in a highly enjoyable book that so far has been the best release of ‘New Trek’ novels.