The Long Night of Centauri Prime Review
Legions of Fire: The Long Night of Centauri Prime is the first chapter of the Centauri Prime trilogy. It is written by Peter David from an outline by Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski.
Peter David is well known to many genre fans. He is a prolific comic book writer, and a fan-favorite Star Trek novelist. He has also written two Babylon 5 episodes, "Soul Mates" and "There All the Honor Lies", and a Crusade episode, "Ruling from the Tomb".
The Long Night of Centauri Prime succeeds for four reasons. The first is that it begins where the episode "The Fall of Centauri Prime" ends. It is a direct continuation of the events of the Babylon 5 television show, answering some of the questions viewers asked as the show came to a close. This provides a strong sense of continuity between the show and the book. Other Babylon 5 novels have developed background stories or jumped to different time periods, resulting in disconnects between their stories and the story told on television. The Long Night of Centauri Prime benefits from telling a story that could have been told in additional episodes of the show.
The second front on which The Long Night of Centauri Prime succeeds is that Peter David shares the viewpoint between several characters. David creates a strong cast of both familiar and new supporting characters and allows them to share the point of view with Emperor Londo Mollari. It would have been very easy to tell the entire story from Londo's point of view, but the book would have lost much of its richness.
Third, by focusing on these supporting characters, David is able to take the story briefly away from Centauri Prime and visit Babylon 5. This provides another point of continuity with the show and makes readers feel more at home.
Finally, Peter David develops his characterizations with great skill. J. Michael Straczynski has said that Peter David is a Centauri. He understands the Centauri mindset and Centauri society. His ability to develop this subset of the Babylon 5 universe so fully is vital to creating a believable story. Peter David succeeds by making us believe the complex motives of the characters.
There are only two negative comments that can be made about The Long Night of Centauri Prime. The first is a question of relative timelines. If you are a nitpicker and do the math, it appears as if there is a span of approximately a year and a half in the book that covers the same events that took at most only a few weeks or months on the televisions show.
The second issue is that this story is very much part of a trilogy. The book may feel incomplete at the end, with the reader definitely left wanting more. The secret to appreciating the story in this book is to understand that it is not the story of the entire Drakh occupation of Centauri Prime. It is the story of Londo Mollari coming to terms with his role in the occupation.
The Long Night of Centauri Prime is an excellent book by an experienced Babylon 5 writer. Fans of the show will feel at home with this continuation of the most popular story line of the fifth season.