Book Review: Terminator Salvation: Trial By Fire

Terminator Salvation: Trial By Fire
Mass Market Paperback
By Timothy Zahn
Titan Books
Release Date: August 17, 2010

Have you been wondering what happened after Terminator Salvation? Are you waiting for the next movie? Well stop what your doing and go pick up Terminator Salvation: Trial By Fire. Trial By Fire not only continues the story, but also fills in the gaps and explains things that happened in the movie. All that and it’s written by one of the most prolific Star Wars extended universe authors, Timothy Zahn. If that doesn’t sell you on this book, I don’t know what will.

Without spoiling the book, let me run down the basics of the story for you. There are four stories to follow which are all equally riveting. First you have Kyle Reese fighting to survive in a horrible situation underground. Next you have Blair Williams and Barnes investigating a lead from the recently destroyed Skynet base while trying to mend their respect for each other after Marcus coming between them. Third, you have a new character, Jik, fighting to survive and make it to Baker’s Hollow while being hunted down by Terminators for an unknown reason. Finally there’s the story of Baker’s Hollow and the Prestons, Daniel and Hope and how they have fought to survive as a community after Judgment Day.

With all of these stories and the speed in which they change perspective, you would think you could lose interest or get confused as to what is going on, but Zahn proves that it is possible to flesh everything out properly and keep it interesting. Each story is unique and riveting in its own right. All of the stories build a bigger reveal and tie in to each other very nicely. This is especially true if, like me, you were intrigued by Marcus’ character in the movie. Zahn’s use of the new hybrid technology and its purpose to Skynet is phenomenal.

There is so much great action throughout the book. If you loved seeing how humans would survive in this future against Skynet and its barrage of Terminators, then you will love this. On top of that, I have to say that the Baker’s Hollow story really reminded me of one of my favorite comic series, The Walking Dead. The post-apocalypse feel of fighting to survive, the actions that must be taken to keep the community thriving, and the subtle approach to politics in that same community all make for an interesting parallel to Kirkman’s series. Of course you could also see these same parallel’s in a lot of Zahn’s previous Star Wars books as well.

Even with all the action there is also an amazing attention to detail and respect to the continuity of the Terminator franchise. This respect is definitely seen throughout the book. So whether you like an action-packed ride or a growing intricate overarching story, you will be pleased. I definitely recommend Trial By Fire to all Terminator fans and Timothy Zahn fans alike.


  1. I love the Terminator series, but I wasn’t all that thrilled with Terminator Salvation. It definitely felt like something was missing, so perhaps this novel is the way to go. Plus, I’ll read anything Timothy Zahn, he’s amazing, and yes, his Star Wars expanded universe books changed my life!

    Comment by Empress Eve — August 23, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  2. Interesting timing on this post as I just finished playing Terminator: Salvation the game last night. While the game is utterly abysmal, the narrative is interesting enough. It shows how Connor pulls together the crew he rolls with in Terminator: Salvation (the movie) and begins the long road of inspiring people to turn and fight the machines rather than run.

    I genuinely enjoyed the movie. After Terminator 3, I didn’t feel like the bar was set too high for a new Terminator film to exceed my expectations (Christian Bale however was a waste of money). I thought it was pretty great, all things considered.

    I was sad to hear that the likelihood of a proper sequel has all been squashed (although now there are rumors of CGI animated films…) so I’ll definitely be checking this book out from my local library.

    Comment by Ahren — August 23, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  3. Do you have to have seen Terminator; Salvation to understand and follow th events in the book? The movie received such bad notice that I haven’t seen it, nor do I really want to, but I would love more Terminator stories.

    Comment by Jeff R Hall — August 24, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

  4. no you don’t have to see the movie but deffinately read the novelization it’s way better – start with before the ashes also by timothy zahn then the novelization and then trial by fire – there is also cold war which takes place after judgement day but before the ashes novel its kind of a history of the resistance and tells a story immidiately after judgement day- all the terminator books have been 5 star books – give them a try and you’ll get hooked.

    Comment by chuck — September 25, 2010 @ 9:49 pm

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