The Fate of the Phoenix

Sondra Marshak and Myrna Culbreath

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

"You have much to learn about the man I might have been, and am—and about the price of the Phoenix," Omne said in the moments following a fatal gunshot delivered by Captain James Kirk.

"I’m sorry," McCoy said as he examined the giant. "I can’t do anything for you. It is final."

"Is it?" Omne asked, as he touched a button on his belt, then vanished.

So ends The Price of the Phoenix, letting readers draw their own conclusions as to the finality of Omne's death and whether the galaxy has indeed seen the last of him. In many ways, this first novel also ends with a beginning as the duplicate Kirk—called James—begins a new life with the Romulan commander in her world, a world where his Human frailties cannot be exposed if he hopes to survive.

As this sequel begins, it isn’t long before Kirk and Spock begin to notice a series of "flames" in the galaxy, and while they believe some of these may be nothing more than chance happenings, some appear to have been engineered by Omne himself. Soon Kirk is appointed Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Federation to preside over the naming of the new Regent of the Voran Dynasty, a world near the Romulan sphere of influence. It is on this isolated planet that all forces come together and the crew of the Enterprise must once again face Omne, the man who triumphed over death. Also on hand are the Romulan commander, who is suspected of treason for joining forces with the Federation on Omne’s world, and a disguised James.

While Omne once again holds Kirk prisoner, a deadly ray is released on those gathered there, and many members of the assembly are injured. Spock seems to be severely affected and shows no sign of life; however, Kirk’s pleas cause Omne to resuscitate him. It is at this time that we also find that Omne has created a duplicate of himself—a duplicate that seeks to kill Omne and Spock as well. It is only by joining forces that there is a chance to destroy the duplicate and guarantee the safety of all.

It often seems that sequels are nothing more than pale imitations of the original; however, that is definitely not the case with this novel. During the course of the book, not only do we catch a glimpse of life and intrigue in the Romulan Empire, we also find in Omne a villain extraordinaire. At the same time, however, we see him in the role of the tragic hero whose fatal flaw is his hubris in making a duplicate of himself—a duplicate with his own agenda. We again see Kirk in the role of the "son of moral certainty" as he faces an enemy who has cruelly defeated him and with whom he must now join forces if he is to survive.

While the characters are all familiar to us, we see new depth to their portrayals as they face a world where death is not necessarily final and learn to cope with all that it means. While this book can be read as a stand alone novel, it works best as a continuation of the story begun in The Fate of the Phoenix. But either way, the recommendation is the same: give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.

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