Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Satisfying, quick and fun
"A Matter of Honor" by Sally Malcolm is a catchy story about SG-1's visit to P4X-481, a planet that has some interesting security technology and even more interesting gravitational machinery. Ordinarily that would be enough for two episodes worth of adventure, or equivalently one trade paperback from Fandemonium Books. Because the adventure has a well wrapped Baal tie-in, a Senator Kinsey hook, and all the pull of the planet-chomping black hole from the season 2 episode, "A Matter of Time" -- it rates a royal treatment -- a double book presentation. "A Matter of Honor" is the first part of the story, and "The Cost of Honor" is its conclusion. The plot of "A Matter of Honor" is very well done. It reads as fast as it is fun.
The hardest thing in the SG-1 universe for an author to do is to get the characterizations right. Sally Malcolm did an admirable job bringing our favorite Jaffa, Teal'c, to life in the pages of this book. The mannerisms were spot on. His subtle humor was natural and effectively presented. I liked her presentation of General Hammond very much.
In three places in "A Matter of Honor" the author missed the characterization mark. These EXTREMELY jarring gaffs happened in the characterization of Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill. The first happens very, very early in the story when Samantha Carter thinks about when she will HAVE to relieve Colonel O'Neill of his command. There is an unfortunate and out of place discussion of military service being equivalent to legalized murder. The last and most appalling is when Colonel O'Neill shoots Teal'c in the ear because he mistook Teal'c for an enemy. Daniel Jackson, Teal'c, Samantha Carter and Jack O'Neill are heroic characters. The SG-1 canon has never wavered on that point. Taking liberties with the heroic nature of these four characters is -- CHEATING. Don't do it! These three miscues are the only weakness that mattered to me in the story because the storyline is so strong and (otherwise) well done.
This book is definitely worth a read, even if you have to hold your nose to cross three bad paragraphs. All the rest of the 236 pages of "A Matter of Honor" are a pleasure to read.