reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
As James T. Kirk prepares to retire from Starfleet, he and the crew take one last cruise on their famous ship. However, that final cruise is anything but routine as a distress call draws the Enterprise to a distant part of the galaxy that Kirk last visited as a rebellious teenager.
Soon he and the crew are drawn into a confrontation with a figure from his pasta figure that almost stopped his career before it even began. As he prepares to face Roy Moss, he remembers his troubled youth and his first trip on the Enterpriseas a teenager.
On that first voyage young James Kirk is estranged from his father and in one seemingly continuous battle against authority. When it looks like the young Kirk is doomed to a bleak future, his father arranges for the two to take a last chance trip into space aboard the Enterprise with her then legendary captain Robert April. What has been set up to be a simple trip to drop off supplies at an archaeological dig on Faramond turns out to be anything but, and Captain April and those with him soon find themselves in a fight for their lives. It is during this fight for survival that young Kirk learns the meaning of teamwork and that there are times that rules must be followed and others where thinking outside the box is a necessity.
And it is also during this trip that a young James T. Kirk sees a glimpse of his future and his own Best Destiny.
While there is plenty of action in the novel, the story is primarily a character study as we see a young Kirk change from a teenage hoodlum to a young adult with a set of goals. We also see the streak of rebellion and the ability to turn disaster into triumph that has made him a legend as captain of the Enterprise. And we are able to measure the change he has undergone by comparing him with his old adversary who has learned nothing from his wayward youth.
Although this is primarily Kirks story, there is plenty of interaction with Spock and McCoy as they try to understand their friends need to face his past nemesis.
While this is one of the longer Star Trek novels at 398 pages, its an easy read guaranteed to hold the attention of even the most discriminating reader. In weaving a story that leaves the reader with a better understanding of one James T. Kirk, Diane Carey has managed to present a flesh and blood hero instead of one who seems the stuff of legend only. This is a must read for all.
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