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A novel by Bill McCay
(1995, Penguin Books)

Stargate Sequels, book 1

The Abydans revolt as an Earth mining guild starts taking advantage of them, while Hathor succeeds Ra as the leader of his Empire, making enemies along the way.


-- First reading (paperback)
June 1st to 11th, 1997


Very good, both in its development of the characters and of the logical continuation of the Stargate story.  I was hooked.  The politics were intriguing, and the story was solid.  Only a few places where leaps of "just too convenient" were made.  One of these, of course, was the end.  I saw the conflict between the army-Abydans suddenly turning into a battle against a common enemy -Hathor, coming from half a book away.  But it was fun, anyway.  The mining company officials were really slimy and greedy, and we really wanted the Abydans to win this one.

It seems that Earth (make that American) military decided that the quartz crystal that the Abydans mined was just too valuable to let go.  They didn't close up the stargate for good, they left it alone for a while, until they got organized.

United Mining Company was hired to run the excavation of the quartz.  Unfortunately, they thought they had a company of slaves to work from, because they weren't ready to pay for the work, and they expected quite a bit in return.  It was pretty funny to watch them negotiate with Kasuf, the leader of the Abydans, and I got angry along with Daniel when UMC started taking advantage of "his" people, which was right away.  

Daniel is the one who introduced them to money, to workers rights, and after a man is killed because the UMC people think he's faking sunstroke, he organizes a strike.  All of that is very satisfying to read, because the bad guys, who are the corporate monsters, get what they deserve!  It is really neat to see them steal students in an English class from Daniel, because they are using televisions and computers for the job, only to find the natives returning to Daniel after they see through UMC objectives.

But the UMC people have backup in terms of the military.  Colonel O'Neal, the leader of the first expedition to Abydos, is responsible for security.  But UMC doesn't like the respect that O'Neal has for the natives.  He trains Skaara and others in desert warfare, and gets in trouble for it.  A general is sent in after him, somebody who plays by the book, but apparently has no experience, and wants to do things his way, no questions or suggestions asked.  This is, of course, pretty stupid, and before long, he has tanks and helicopters flying towards the main city of Nagada, to quell the natives.  At the same time, Skaara has mobilized his people, who are on their way to meet the tanks in the open desert.  Nobody is prepared for what happens next.  A spaceship arrives, in the shape of a pyramid...

For from the beginning of this book, we get to observe the transformation of Hathor, a subordinate of Ra, into a pitiless leader.  Unfortunately, she also deals with her underlings in the same way as the American General.  She is awakened from a several centuries-long sleep to find Ra missing, and a council splitting into political factions.  More is being done to gain power than to rule the empire.  She immediately takes over in the only way she knows -violence.  She kills the leaders, leaving some opponents to live, however.  They make strikes against her, and then she kills them.  She would have been better off following her first instincts.  The battles between Hathor and the others were well-written, however, and were pretty exciting.  

Hathor is angered by the moth-balling of her starship fleet in preference to the stargates.  She immediately orders the refurbishing of one of the ships so that she can fly to Abydos and take control, at the same time finding out what happened to Ra.  She doesn't give her experts enough time, however, but they do what they can.  And when she tries to expend any energy against targets, her ship starts falling apart.  I saw that happening chapters and chapters ahead of when it happened.

When Hathor comes across the tanks, helicopters and ground troops of the military and the Abydans, she opens fire.  She cuts off escape to Earth by settling the spacecraft on top of the stargate pyramid.  But the military, especially O'Neal, have learned how to fight against her airborne troops, and were ready for war already.  They had missiles in reserve.  An ambush destroys nearly seventy-five percent of Hathor's fighters!  And an incompetent worker, who gave enmity to Hathor instead of loyalty, opens the doors to rescue some of her fighters, thus letting O'Neal's troops inside the spaceship.  That is the beginning of the end for Hathor, and she is forced to abandon the dying ship.  She escapes through the stargate, but not before Daniel glimpses her figure (the most sexually appealing of all) and her headpiece -the cat.  This sets up for his seduction in the next book!

O'Neal is caught in a quandary!  He loves the Abydans as his own people, but he owes allegiance to the military.  He doesn't dare resign, and he thinks that he might be of better use to them with the military connections that he has.  So he helps train Skarra and some others in warfare.  I liked Skaara's plans even better.  He thought there might be other oppressed people on other worlds connected by the stargates, and he wanted to help liberate them.  This is great stuff; unfortunately, it all gets left aside in the wake of the next books.

Unlike the series SG-1, Ra here is the only hybrid.  The others started dying off long before he merged with a human.  He chose the most beautiful humans to become his oppressors, and that is why the Horus-guards are so man-like, and why all the other Egyptian gods looked the way they did.  And that is why Hathor is such a beautiful woman.  She uses sex as a tool, even when she slept with Ra.  And she doesn't want to give up the power she gained being one of Ra's chosen ones.  

I liked the way this book came together, especially the logic from the different points of view.  The miners were not expecting to encounter any organized resistance to their plunder.  They were on another planet, and thought the laws didn't apply to them.  But they kept going farther and farther, and eventually snapped.  The way the military capitulated to their demands is absurd, but it set up the readiness for the battle against Hathor.  If only the rest of the series could have followed along these lines.  Ah, well...


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