At first glance, it’s hard to see how The Drift is a sequel to Four Dragons (reviewed here). The story description you find on the back cover doesn’t give any hints as to how the stories are connected. Nevertheless, if you want answers to the questions left unanswered at the end of Four Dragons, you’d better pick up The Drift. Likewise, The Drift won’t make sense if you don’t read Four Dragons first.
It has been said that Four Dragons is a Daniel-centric story. I would disagree with that because the story is pretty fairly split between Jack and Daniel. The Drift however seems to center more on Jack than on Daniel. A lot of that has to do with the time period in which the book is set. Placed after Season 8’s ‘Avatar’, The Drift takes place a full year after the events of Four Dragons. There have been significant changes in the structure of the SGC in that time. Jack is now a Brigadier General and the CO of the SGC, and he is feeling the pressure. We’ve found Atlantis and an expedition as been sent, though we haven’t heard from them since they left. Anubis’ non-corporeal butt has been kicked and he won’t be back for a while. The Ancient Outpost in Antarctica is causing some serious political headaches, and that’s where the book catches back up with our team.
In an attempt to pacify the countries that have their knickers in a twist because the US essentially has a weapons platform in the Antarctic, Daniel is sent to negotiate and Jack is ordered to train foreign citizens with the ATA gene to use the Chair. Jack struggles to be patient with the recruits and actually starts to improve, but then he encounters a young Chinese woman, Weiyan Shi, who is so determined to prove herself her Ambassador mother that she triggers an undiscovered purpose of the Chair. Once again the Ancients prove that they don’t know how to clean up their own messes, leaving dangerously flawed technology lying around. The irony at play will not be lost on Atlantis fans. It’s all downhill from there as SG-1 and Weiyan become trapped in a realm of illusions, at the mercy of their own emotions, while the world around them is literally falling apart about their ears.
The story flow is once again in the same style as Four Dragons. There are time and locations stamps that should not be ignored because this story was a long time in the making, and there are events that have their roots 50 years in the past. Yep, that’s not a typo! While backing up the story this far into the past my seem contrived, it works because of one obscure fact that Botsford incorporates into the story. Ever wonder how Lord Yu knew that Earth had two Stargates to forfeit in season 3’s ‘Fair Game’? It’s something I’ve often wondered, and Botsford took the opportunity to respond to it.
There wasn’t much to be had in the way of Jack and Daniel banter in Four Dragons because they were separated for nine tenths of the book. Not so with The Drift, and we get some truly quality moments between the two unlikely best friends. While Four Dragons spent a lot of time examining how Jack and Daniel are different from each other, The Drift proves just how well they work together, maybe because of those differences.
WARNING: Major Spoilers for Four Dragons follow, along with some spoilers for The Drift that fall just shy of giving too much away. If you have not read Four Dragons, read no further until you have! If you want to read more about The Drift without getting too many hints, skip down to my last two paragraphs.
Botsford once again proves that she knows how to use our favorite re-occuring cast members to her advantage. General George Hammond’s role in this book is pivotal as he – once again – staunchly refuses to give up hope that SG-1 can beat the odds. Outside of the realm that SG-1 is trapped in, he literally holds things together. We also see the return of Lieutenant Graham Simmons, a character who first made his appearance in ‘Message in a Bottle.’ Poor Graham is probably the only character to have a crush on Sam Carter and not die from her Black Widow curse (besides Jack of course!) despite a close call here and there. He had not been seen in the series for quite some time so it was a pleasant surprise to see him back. Or at least that’s what I thought.
While I didn’t find any continuity errors in this story, I was perplexed and skeptical about one very crucial plot element. Botsford would have us believe than an Ascended Being can travel through time. While not impossible per se, I’m not exactly buying it. There is no precedent in the series. Instead we have seen several instances where the Ancients have either tried and failed to tamper with time, or they have vehemently opposed time travel all together. We have also seen instances where an Ascended being has been exiled in one location, but if one can travel through time, forward and backward, doesn’t exile become moot? I’m sure there’s an Oma-ism that would explain why time shouldn’t be trifled with, but I don’t think I would understand it any better than the next reader. Suffice it to say that though Botsford made it a necessary plot point, I can’t help but think that it doesn’t fit with what we know of the Ancients and Ascended beings.
As I mentioned, the book answers a lot of questions that were left unanswered in the prequel. In Four Dragons, we learn that Lord Yu has a Royal Guard of four men, and each is a direct descendant of a well known Chinese figure such as Sun Tzu and Confucius. While we may not learn why Yu chose these men, we do discover how he came by the ability to clone them, replacing the four as they died or where killed in battle. We learn how the now disgraced and institutionalized Ambassador Huang, who is one of those very same clones, came to be on Earth and gained a position of influence. We learn just what is in that chamber in the ancient Chinese ruins that Daniel was exploring before Lord Yu abducted him. As the element that brings both books full circle, Jack’s old Zippo lighter returns, and it’s significance is made clear. Yes, it is exactly what you are thinking it is, but you’re going to have to read the book to learn why!
If you have read Four Dragons, The Drift is a must have or you will never learn the answers to the mysteries that Botsford left us with. If you haven’t read Four Dragons, I do recommend both books as equally good reads, well worth your time and hard earned pocket money.
You can get your copies of Four Dragons, The Drift, and many more Stargate books at StargateNovels.com!