William Shatner with Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Set sometime after Star Trek Generations, the action begins as Captains James T. Kirk and Jean Luc Picard start their vacation on Bajor with an orbital dive that almost costs Kirk his life. Once on the planets surface, they find themselves some distance from their designated landing area and now must find their way to the archaeological dig located on the inland sea that is their destination. However, to do so they must cross the Bajoran desert without any water or other supplies. Luckily, they are found by Corrin Tal, one of the members of the archaeological group, who claims he is out looking for a murderer.
Upon their arrival at the camp, the two captains try to find out who killed Nilan Artir, one of the archaeologists, and also destroyed all means of communication with the outside world. When the two captains are taken by boat to the underwater dig site, a disruptor beam kills Sedge Nirra, one of their hosts and the boats driver, and an explosion quickly destroys the boat. Before the captains can be rescued, something pulls Picard below the surface, and despite an extensive search, Picard can not be located and is presumed dead. Although Kirk is consumed by grief for the friend he lost, he vows to find the person or persons who killed Artir and Nirra as well as the person who caused the death of Jean Luc Picard.
As the story set on Bajor unfolds, Kirk also remembers back to an early assignment that came soon after he took command of the Enterprise. It is during these flashbacks that we see the early relationship between Kirk and Spock, who finally decides "to throw caution to the winds" and remain on the Enterprise as first officereven though he believes the young captain may not survive their five-year mission due to his taking an "inordinate number of risks" in the course of performing his duty.
While the novel has two intriguing plotsthe one on Bajor and the one unfolding during the early days of the five year missionthe two at first seem to have little in common. Its not until the end that we find there is a tenuous connection between the two. In addition, there are times that the plotsespecially the one set on Bajorseem to be straight out of the Perils of Pauline as our hero/heroes go from one catastrophe to another: Kirk no more than succeeds in killing Corrin Tal which means he and Picard are now safe, when Sedge Nirra beams in and a stray phaser blast manages to destabilize the ceiling of the underwater cavern which means they are then in danger of drowning when the ceiling collapses.
Not only does the novel contain two plots from different time periods, it also includes a helping of Bajoran legend which proves to be a key point in the novels resolution. And of course, not only do Spock and McCoy show up on the end, but the Epilogue connects us to the earlier mission and sets up a sequel at the same time.
While the novel is basically a good read, there are timesespecially where the giant rayl fish is concernedthat the reader is asked to suspend belief. And since the book is written by the original Captain Kirk, its only fitting that hes the one to solve the mystery and save the day.
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