‘Allegiance’ is Deserving of Your Allegiance

PlayItGrand February 27, 2012 No Comments »

The third book in the Stargate Atlantis Legacy series has arrived from Fandemonium! Authored by Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold, the book series is a continuation of the Stargate spin-off that ended before its time. It picks up right where the series left off with the first novel, Homecoming, and begins a whole new saga that is truly worthy of the franchise. Homecoming was followed by The Lost, and now Allegiance is the latest in the planned series of six books.

WARNING: This review assumes that you have read both Homecoming and The Lost! If you have not checked out this series yet, – where the heck have you been!? – go back and check out my review of Homecoming to learn why you really should!

The longer a series goes on, the more complicated things can get. This is maybe more true of a book series that is published one book at a time over a protracted period than it is for a TV series. There is a reason why I spent the weeks leading up to the newest Harry Potter book release re-reading all the other books to refresh my memory. You never knew when some seemingly trivial detail that you easily forgot about was going to come back and bite everyone in the butt. When I ordered my copy of Allegiance I was a bit concerned that I would need to re-read the previous books to really keep pace with the story, but when I got my copy I found a pleasant surprise. A prologue was included, perfect for refreshing my memory of the events of the series. I could kiss the authors for that, and I hope they keep including them because there are three more books to go!

The book starts out with everyone sitting around the conference table, trying to get their heads wrapped around what just happened. They finally know what the readers have known for quite some time: Rodney McKay has been changed into a Wraith, and the process whipped his memory clean. He believes he has always been a Wraith, so when his friends came to his rescue he fought them and stunned John Sheppard before the team was beamed to safety, leaving Rodney the Wraith behind.

A frantic plan is formed. Not only is Rodney in enemy hands, but he has become an enemy. With all of his knowledge of the city’s systems, it would only be a matter of time before Rodney uses that knowledge to attack. His sister Jeannie Miller comes to Atlantis to help Dr. Radek Zelenka try to find all of Rodney’s backdoors into the control systems. Having two people on hand who know Rodney’s programing style soon becomes invaluable.

In another plan to help protect the city, Ronan Dex returns to Sateda. The last time we saw that planet it was a ruin of a once thriving industrial civilization. As much as Ronan doesn’t like the idea of taking the raw material they need from Sateda, they have little choice. However it’s of course not that simple. A number of Satedan’s have returned and are trying to reclaim the planet. They aren’t the only ones who want it though. The Genii think they have a claim, and the leader of their survey team is none other than Sora. Soon Sheppard, Teyla, and Ronan find themselves stuck in the middle of some pretty dirty interplanetary politics. This may sound boring, but watching Sheppard try to sort out the mess is very entertaining. Where’s Woolsey when you need him, right? For the entire book he’s stuck on Earth trying to explain himself to the IOA and keep his job.

Meanwhile Rodney, now known as Quicksilver, is determined to strike back at Atlantis because his “brother” Dust was killed in the attempted rescue. He begins to discover more memories of his life in Atlantis, twisted though the memories are. Our buddy Todd, known as Guide among the Wraith, is getting increasingly worried about McKay. If Rodney remembers how Guide helped the Lantians on more than one occasion, then Guide is as good as dead. He manages to get his trusted cleverman Ember assigned to Quicksilver’s care. Ember’s job is to help Quicksilver attack Atlantis and follow Queen Death’s wishes without giving Guide away.

While Quicksilver dreams of Atlantis, trying to find a way in, the yet unnamed dark-haired queen of Atlantis appears again, calling him Rodney. When it looks like he is about to stumble onto something that would mean bad news for Atlantis, she steers him away. At the same time she keeps needling him to look deeper, to remember. This figure has appeared several times in the series now. While Quicksilver may not remember her name, readers can tell that she is Elizabeth Weir. Since her first appearance I have had a strong theory about how this could be, and it gets stronger every time. I think Elizabeth, who was missing and presumed dead, Ascended. When exactly is unclear, but not necessarily important. Of all the characters of Atlantis, I always thought that Elizabeth had the necessary open mindedness to Ascend, and she certainly knew enough about the concept. I also can’t imagine Elizabeth being able to watch and not interfere in this situation any more than Daniel Jackson could just watch as Jack O’Neill was tortured by Ba’al in “Abyss.” I am hopeful that at some point in the next three books my theory will be confirmed.

As events unfold, Quicksilver begins to question what he has been told. He is unsure why the Lanteans keep calling him “Rodney”, or why they seem to want to help him. The funny part about this is that he remembers who Rodney McKay is. He knows that McKay is the leading scientist in Atlantis, a genius who would anticipate and counter Quicksilver’s attack. Here we see Rodney’s usual ego showing through, painting himself as the one person that the Wraith need to fear. All the while, he is equally sure that whatever happened to him in Atlantis, it had nothing to do with McKay. He couldn’t possibly be Rodney McKay. Or could he?  A hint from Guide – living up to his Wraith name – sends Quicksilver in the right direction. Guide simply says, “Michael”. I wouldn’t dare give away the ending, but I would certainly categorize it has a cliffhanger worthy of a mid-season finale.

Scott and Griswold have done an absolutely amazing job of building this story and keeping it well and truly grounded in the established franchise. There is only one detail that I question. Presumably to make sure that the Hammond could last as long as they needed it to, they set the Hammond up with ventral shield emitter as well as shields for the other sides of the ship. It may be just an upgrade to the Hammond‘s design over its predecessors, but it is a ploy that has not been used before in the franchise. It wasn’t hard to overlook it though. You wouldn’t expect a space battle to be so riveting to read, but I was on the very edge of my chair praying that the worst was not going to happen.

The authors have done a great job filling in some gaps, creating new characters that have the needed background. For instance, after Kate Heightmeyer was killed in season 4, another psychologist was never introduced. We’ve never been introduced to anyone we could definitively call an archaeologist, and this story required one so Scott and Griswold created one. He’s a far cry from Daniel, but he’s not bad. Having these new characters come aboard and experience alien things for the first time is a great way to bring readers back to the basics for a moment, and remind us just how incredible it all is while our main characters have more or less lost that sense of awe.

This book had a lot of action compared to Homecoming, and The Lost was somewhere smack in between. This gives a sense of rising urgency as events build, making the last sentence of the book all that more of a cliff to fall off of. It is fascinating to me how this really does feel just like the series, minus the memorable stand alone stories. However it makes me feel like a lot was crammed into this 301 page book, and it’s really difficult to tell how the next three books are going to pan out. One would hope that at least one of the books will focus on getting Rodney back, getting him back to his old self – which has a lot of implications, let me tell you! – And at least defeating Queen Death if not solving the Wraith problem all together. But three more books? Obviously there is another twist or two coming and it’s bound to be a dosey! Plus, as I pointed out in my review of Homecoming, because there is no canon that the writers have to obey after their story is finished, they could just as easily kill McKay to resolve the plot. Hey, guys? Please don’t kill him, ok?

As disappointed as fans are that we still don’t have a movie to wrap up the series, I believe they will be at least partially satisfied with the Legacy series, and their support may help to show MGM how much we want to see a more fitting conclusion than what we were left with. In all honesty, if the producers didn’t already have a script waiting, I would say that these books were worthy of being adapted to the screen.

I proudly give Allegiance five SpaceGypsy wagons!

Want your copy? The best way to get the paperback is to order a copy from the Fandemonium site. Sadly it has become impossible to find the books at big chain in stores here in the U.S., and the website seems to suggest that they are now printing the novels for U.S. readers as orders are placed. Though the added cost and time of shipping is a little annoying, its completely worth it.

Are you one of those readers who likes the newest electronic rage? You can now get over a dozen of Fandemoniums novels for your Amazon ebook readers, and you can find Allegiance right here! Happy reading!

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