Click Here to Order This BookThe Ashes of Eden

William Shatner
with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

"I cannot rest from travel; I will drink
Life to the lees. All times I have enjoy’d
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those
That love me, and alone...
I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known..."

So laments Ulysses in Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name; and so also does James T. Kirk, lament the days that were as he faces his retirement. The story proper begins six months prior to the launch of the Enterprise-B and the loss of Kirk to the Nexus. However, an unexpected turn of events gives Kirk the opportunity for the excitement that he continues to crave, and although both Spock and Doctor McCoy try to dissuade him from leaving Starfleet and traveling to the planet Chal with Teilani, a woman he hardly knows, their pleas land on deaf ears.

When Kirk tries to explain his reasons for helping Teilani, McCoy tries to point out that he’s "got all the symptoms of someone escaping reality at warp nine." Kirk, however, refuses to accept the counsel of his friends and soon finds himself on the way to Chal, a planet inhabited by Romulan-Klingon hybrids that want to determine their own course without the interference of others. This planet soon becomes the focal point for intra-galactic intrigue: it is believed that the planet holds the key to immortality. For Kirk, this trip is a link to his past as well as his chance for a new future: Teilani has purchased the decommissioned Enterprise which is taken care of by none other than Montgomery Scott.

Kirk is not the only one who is looking for a return to youth: Starfleet is now under the control of his long-time nemesis Androvar Drake who also has heard of the secret of Chal. Before long Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, Spock and McCoy are in pursuit of Kirk and soon find themselves pitted against their former captain. When all groups converge upon Chal, it’s up to Kirk to protect the planet and to unveil the true secret of Chal, and the final confrontation is worth the wait.

The novel is set up as a frame story, and begins with Spock waiting beside Kirk’s grave on Veridian III so that he can accompany his friend on his final journey home. The book ends with a postponement of that journey as Kirk’s remains are stolen while what’s left of the Enterprise is under attack. In between is a story with plenty of twists and turns as Kirk finally comes to grips with his age and his future. The characters are very true to the images we’ve come to know and love, and it is finally Kirk that comes to realize that he, McCoy and Spock are "bound by a friendship that surpassed all the years and all the adventures. Still boldly going long after they had all thought their mission had ended." And just like Ulysses, Kirk realizes they have been "made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

A good read for all.

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