with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
Chal, the planet named for the Klingon word for Heaven, is dying. A virogen plague has destroyed its ecosystem and much of its population when a stranger appears at the Federation relief headquarters entrusted to take care of the remainder of the population. Dressed as a Vulcan trader, he has only one request: To find the location of the grave of one of its citizens, a citizen named Teilani. Upon finding that she is not dead but close to it, the trader prepares a tea of Klingon trannin leaves. When Teilani miraculously seems to grow stronger, the stranger takes her away with him despite the protests of the commander, Christine MacDonald. Although he parries all her requests concerning his identity, he eventually tells her to call him "Jim."
And so Captain James T. Kirk, believed to have diedagainwhen the Borg home world exploded, returns to the planet and the woman he has come to love. However, while his treatment has saved Teilani and promises a possible cure, it seems to be almost too late to save the Federation as numerous other planets are infected with the plague. In addition, when MacDonald contacts Starfleet headquarters with information provided by Kirk, her headquarters soon comes under attack. It is only by forcing one James T. Kirk to take command of her ship and reveal his true identity that the camp can be saved.
In the meantime Spock receives a message that his father did not actually die of Bendii Syndrome but was poisoned instead. When Spock decides to visit Vulcan and his Uncle Tarok to learn of possible motives, he crosses paths with his old friend Jim Kirk. While they and the crew of the Tobias, Christine MacDonalds ship, are held by Vulcan authorities, they once again run into Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the Enterprise-E.
Before long all parties are headed for Tarsus IV where a similar plague had once caused the execution of half the planets population. Finally, in an unforgettable climax all parties are brought together to solve the created by the Symmetrists, a political group long thought to be extinct.
This, the third novel of a trilogy begun by The Return, once again manages to combine several disparate groups and settings seamlessly. The action is almost non-stop, and even the few explanatory sections do not slow the story. The novel is also heavy on characterization and gives us a glimpse into Kirks past. That glimpse goes a long way to explain his statement in Star Trek V that hes always known how hell diealone. Avenger also gives us a close look at the enduring friendship of Kirk and Spock and presents one reason as to why they were fated to be together. Despite the serious nature of the plota plague threatening to destroy the Federationthere are still moments of humor, such as when Kirk is "amused to hear how both he and Spock struggled to control their breathing with an audience present" as the two run toward a building on Taroks estate.
For plenty of action, well drawn characters, and a continuation of the Star Trek legend, Avenger is highly recommended.
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