This is the story of what happened to the crew of the Icarus when they went to Z'ha'dum. The main focus is on Anna Sheridan, but also John Sheridan, and what he and the Agamemnon were doing at the time, and Mr Morden, and what he was like before the Shadows got to him. There are also pointless cameos by Sinclair, Kosh, Delenn and Babylon 5. Basically, Anna finds an odd artifact that reacts to telepathy. Her boss finds out, and is manipulated into going on a mission to a planet known as Alpha Omega 3, where the artifact has been traced back to. Everything is seen through Anna's eyes, as she suspects most of the people there of having ulterior motives. While all this is going on, Sheridan has problems with the people on his new ship, and has to work out which of them are saboteurs, and which have been mistreated by the former captain of the Agamemnon.
This book's good. Well, the ending's obvious, but the ending of the added plot on the Agamemnon isn't that obvious, and the events in between (i.e. exactly what happened on Z'ha'dum and leading up to the mission) have never been addressed before in the series. And Morden is almost unrecognisably different, although earlier events do suggest why he agreed to help the Shadows.
A lot of the stuff that goes on is creepy, especially as the characters know nothing about the Shadows, or what they are getting themselves into on the planet. There are so many conspiracies going round on the Icarus that it is difficult to know just who was conspiring, and exactly what was going on with the mission, even by the end of the book.
This story is an official, authorised part of the Babylon 5 storyline, which solves a few unanswered questions, like what happened to Sinclair when he got reassigned to Minbar, what Catherine Sakai did, and how Marcus became one of the Rangers.
More than just answering questions and explaining some later events, this book is also very good. Some of the things that go on are predictable, but then that's only because we already know many things about the Rangers.
But this is not just part of the Babylon 5 arc, as even if you know nothing of the background story this is still an enjoyable read.
The book spans most of the 22nd century. It starts off with the accidental discovery of telepaths through to the founding of the Psi Corps. It also briefly deals with the discovery of the Centauri, the Vorlons and the Shadows, and Lyta Alexander.
On reading the story it is easy to see why something like Psi Corps must exist, and also why it does what it does. The story starts off very slowly, but as the years go by there are more developments with the telepaths. The people that are mainly featured are a couple of senators who create the Psi Corps, and the Resistance-the telepaths who are against Psi Corps. As Lyta Alexander is a sixth generation telepath, her ancestors are in there from the start, and also Bester's age is revealed.
Its easy to sympathise with both sides, but the book, unlike the episodes, does change our opinions of Psi Corps.
Its also easy to imagine how the mundanes feel when telepaths are first discovered, as no-one wants everyone to know exactly what they're thinking at any point.
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As can be inferred by the title, the middle book of the trilogy is about Bester. It starts at his early life, and how the Psi Corps treated him, and the other telepaths there. It then follows his career, all the way into him being a Psi Cop.
The story pretty much picks up at the end of previous one, and this, together with Babylon 5 and the third book, tells the story of the entirity of the life of Alfred Bester. Some of the things that he and the rest of the Psi Corps get up to are quite shocking, but do go a long way towards explaining why Bester is the way he is. And why he has a useless right hand.
The book is set after the end of Babylon 5, when Lyta has removed Garibaldi's block, and he is free to hunt down Bester, which he does. At this point, the whole of Psi Corps has changed as well, which means that telepaths can serve on Earth Alliance ships, as seen on Crusade. It also gives Garibaldi a good reason to hunt Bester, as everyone agrees he's a wanted criminal.
There is a lot of insight into Bester's character, as he fails to see why the things he has done are so bad. However, ultimately, the end of the story is obvious, but the most interesting bits are the ones where Bester tries to evade the police, and Garibaldi's quest for revenge.
Londo has been declared Emporer, although at a price, which no-one else knows about. However, despite his keeper he still manages to be himself, which includes saving Sheridan's life, and taking in a young girl, who turns out to be Lord Refa's daughter. The trouble is, he is not the only person being manipulated by the Drakh - all of the people on Centauri Prime are, and many of the ones off of it too. Luckily for Vir, he has found an ally - a technomage, who is willing to help him redeem the Centauri people and defy the Drakh.
It is much easier in the book to understand some of Londo's actions, whether it is him or the keeper making him do them. There are many portents for the years to come, including the keeper for Sheidan and Delenn's son, Centauri Prime managing to be rid of the Drakh by the time Vir is emporer, an archeological dig with some suspicious goings-on, and the on-going saga of Londo's wives. The book is very readable, and it will be interesting to see what is to come in the next two.
Vir has come across a group of 3 trainee technomages, who help him to recruit one of Londo's ex-wives as a spy and find out what is going on at the archeological dig. Vir also continues in his quest to find out exactly what is going on on Centauri Prime, and once he knows, how to stop it. The trouble is, if the Drakh have any idea of what he is doing, they will kill him (and probably a fair few other people as well).
One of the technomages is revealed to be the one in Crusade, and there are plenty of links with A Call to Arms. Again, it is easy to get caught up in the story. This one differs from the previous in that Vir is the main character, and is revealed to have changed a lot since he first arrived on Babylon 5, although some of those changes are not necessarily for the better, but they are better for the good of Centauri Prime. With two books gone, the question still is of how they will get rid of the Drakh.