Book Review: Stargate SG-1

In addition to the Goodreads challenge I’ve set myself this year (you can read more about it here and a progress report will be coming next week), I’ve also decided some of these books are going to include my vast Stargate novel collection.

Collection of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis novels on bookshelf

There are six tie-in novels for the movie, but I’m ignoring those for the time being and just including those from the TV shows. Of those, there are around 70 books to make my way through. Some are better than others, but it has been a while since I’ve read any of them, so it’s kind of like starting afresh… and what better way to start, than at the very beginning.

First up, we have Stargate SG-1 by Ashley McConnell. It was published by ROC in October 1998 and is the tie-in novel for SG-1’s pilot episode (Children Of The Gods).

Blurb

“The terror is back… and the battle has just begun.”

An awesome force of evil, bent on domination and destruction, has blasted its way through the Stargate, threatening the very survival of planet Earth. Ra is dead, but the serpent god Apophis has risen in his wake… and he’s more than Ra’s equal in his cunning, in his cruelty, in his ruthless lust for power.

Colonel Jack O’Neill has been summoned out of retirement to lead the expeditionary mission through the Stargate to hunt down Apophis and his legions. But the search-and-destroy team is about to face the ultimate test of courage – for if O’Neill and his crew fail to return in seventy-two hours, they will be trapped, their fate sealed forever…

Synopsis (** SPOILER ALERT! **)

For those who haven’t watched the show before, there are major spoilers below.

A copy of the novel Stargate SG-1 by Ashley McConnell

The story takes place around a year after Colonel Jack O’Neill and Daniel Jackson defeated the Goa’uld, Ra. Since that mission, Earth’s Stargate is still located deep within Cheyenne Mountain and under military supervision, but it is no longer in use. A skeleton staff is also stationed at the SGC complex, but they don’t take any notice of the alien technology; instead, they spend their days playing cards. That is, until the gate suddenly reactivates and a group of alien hostiles appear. The aliens are Jaffa (soldiers to the Goa’uld) and they open fire on the military officers on duty, killing them all bar one. Another figure also steps through the gate (the Goa’uld Apophis) and takes the remaining human – a female sergeant – hostage and back through the Stargate with him.

As a result, Colonel O’Neill is summoned back to the SGC by General Hammond, who is now in charge of the Stargate Program, to be questioned about Ra and what really happened on the mission. Jack is subsequently forced to admit that he lied in his mission report – Ra is dead, but his ship was in orbit around Abydos at the time. As a result, the planet itself wasn’t touched and its people, plus Daniel Jackson, are still alive and well. Jack escapes punishment but is recalled to active duty to track down the hostiles that came through the gate. He’s joined by Captain Samantha Carter – an expert on the Stargate – plus some of the men from the original mission (such as Charles Kawalsky and Louis Ferretti).

They gate to Abydos and find Daniel. When they tell him about the invasion on Earth, he is surprised and insists the aliens did not come from Abydos as the team had assumed. Daniel then shows them to a room which lists thousands of potential Stargate addresses. Basically, the Stargate system is a massive network – not just a bridge between Earth and Abydos – and, as a result, the alien hostiles could have come from anywhere.

While the team are gone, the Abydos gate bursts to life and (surprise, surprise) the same group that attacked Earth, attacks here. Some of the Abydonians are killed, while Ferretti is severely injured. Sha’re (Daniel’s wife) and Skaara (Sha’re’s brother and someone Jack was close to from the original mission) are kidnapped by Apophis. The team arrives back to discover what’s happened and they convince Daniel to return home with them; Ferretti saw the gate address. He knows where the aliens went.

On another planet (which we later discover is called Chulak), Skaara and Sha’re are in a large holding cell with many others. One of the Jaffa arrives and chooses someone from the crowd – the missing sergeant from Earth – and brings her to Apophis. Apophis needs a new queen and it turns out that women from all over the galaxy are being kidnapped as potential hosts. Those who are not selected or who do not please him are killed, including the sergeant. Sha’re is later chosen – and becomes Apophis’s new queen. She is taken over by the alien.

Unaware of any of this, the newly-formed SG-1 and SG-2 teams gate to Chulak and are led towards the city. There, Daniel discovers the enemy terrorising the galaxy is Apophis (a rival of Ra) and that Sha’re is now also an enemy. The team is thrown into the holding cell where they find Skaara. Jack O’Neill also catches the attention of the leader of Apophis’s guard (Teal’c) who doesn’t appear to approve of the Goa’uld’s behaviour. 

Apophis himself then enters the dungeon, accompanied by a group of other Goa’uld couples, each of whom have come to choose a host for their child; i.e. who will be the “children of the gods”. Some of the prisoners are selected and dragged away screaming, including Skaara (who, later in the novel, is revealed to be a Goa’uld now too).

An order is given to kill the rest of the prisoners and the Jaffa start to open fire, but Jack sees Teal’c and tells him he can save the prisoners – with his help. Teal’c switches allegiance and he and Jack quickly kill the remaining Jaffa, before SG-1 escapes with Teal’c and the remaining refugees and they head for the Stargate. 

The Goa’uld are just about to leave the planet (via the gate) when they discover what has happened, but they don’t stick around. Instead, more Jaffa follow the refugees to kill them. Despite a fierce firefight now going on, Daniel is able to dial the gate to Earth and the two SG teams (plus some of the refugees and Teal’c) make it home. 

O’Neill suggests Teal’c join SG-1 to help them find Apophis and bring Sha’re and Skaara home. 

What was expected to be one mission, is now the beginning of a whole new dangerous journey and the team must continue to go through the Stargate to locate new technologies, assess off-world threats to Earth, and find their missing loved ones.

Review

As mentioned above, this novel is based on the pilot episode of Stargate SG-1 (Children Of The Gods) and – for the most part – sticks very closely to the script, which is great as you can hear the character’s voices and picture the various scenes as you make your way through the story. Most of the dialogue remains the same, including Samantha Carter’s “reproductive organs” speech, but there are a few small differences which a fan will pick up on. It doesn’t alter or ruin the story, however, so it’s not a big deal.

The back cover of the novel Stargate SG-1 by Ashley McConnell, featuring Colonel Jack O'Neill, played by Richard Dean Anderson

The author has kept O’Neill’s sense of humour intact throughout the book – from his sarcastic one-liners to a roll of the eyes or his innermost thoughts – but there are times when Jack comes across as slightly more derisive and untrusting towards Carter in the book as opposed to the episode itself. Having said that, for the Sam/Jack shippers, those little moments from the episode have been kept in the book. For example, one of my favourite paragraphs is taken from the perspective of General Hammond. It’s at the end of the first major team briefing – when Sam and Jack meet for the first time – and it’s: 

“He’d feel a whole lot more confident about the future of this team, though, if he hadn’t seen the glance O’Neill and Carter exchanged. Those two weren’t finished.”

It perfectly sums up the two characters and their back-and-forth barbs during this scene.

There’s only a couple of occasions when the book feels rushed in order to get to the end of the story. I was also left slightly confused by the blurb on the back of the book (it says the team are given a seventy-two-hour deadline), but in the episode they only have 24 hours to complete their mission… but unless I’m missing something, it’s little continuity details like this which are the only real issue I have with this novel.

Sometimes tie-ins aren’t great, but I really like this one and have read it a few times now. For a long-time fan, or one relatively new to the show, I’d definitely recommend having this copy on your bookshelf!

Chevron Rating: 6/7 

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