reviewed by Randy Landers
While enjoying shore leave at Starbase 13, Captain Kirk, Mister Spock and Doctor McCoy encounter Gilla Dupree, a Jainist who is in search of her father, Jacob Kell, who is a believed to be traitor to the Federation. After their encounter, and after consulting Commodore Wilhem Schang, Kirk takes the Enterprise to Heartland in search of Kell. The class M planet is a beautiful one, inhabited by devil-like humanoids called Danons, and is off-limits to all because the inhabitants of a colony there went insane. Kirk and company beam down, only to find themselves investigating the relationship devil-like Danons, Kell and a previously unmentioned missing member of the colony, as well as the force that seems to be behind the mystery. Once one of Kirk's security men is reduced to a blathering idiot, the force of wills becomes apparent, and Jim Kirk is forced into taking action against the force, the Danons and Jacob Kell, resulting in a rather odd climax.
Gilla Dupree is an unusual character. As a Jainist, she does not believe in eating anything more complex than rudimentary grains. As a result, she is suffering from malnutrition. Disappointingly, her motivations for finding her father are unstated throughout much of the novel, until they're revealed just before the climax.
Her father, Jacob Kell, is equally odd. Due to an almost unbelievable space accident where he floated in deep space for nearly a month in his spacesuit before his rescue, Kell is no longer willing to be a part of Humanity. His decision to leave for Federation space was simply a means of leaving Earth and the Federation behind. He ended up on Heartland after determining the Klingons had been avoiding the planet. And yet in the end, Kell is forced to embrace his fellow Humans in the form of the Enterprise landing party in order to save them from the same fate as the security man.
Overall, the story is rather complicated, structured poorly, but somewhat interesting. Not one of the strongest Bantam entries in the Star Trek genre, it still makes for passable reading.
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