reviewed by Randall Landers
Sometimes you want to like a book so bad that its frustrating to read. Such was the case here. With Garth of Izar, I had high hopes. Garth was one of my favorite Star Trek villains because hes not really a villain; he nearly died due to a transporter accident, and the Antosians were able to heal his body, but appear to have bollixed up his mind. Veteran television actor Steve Ihnatwhose appearances on Star Trek, The Outer Limits and Mission: Impossible, had impressed me greatlybrought Garth to life. He was a complicated villain, quite insane, and yet he managed to evoke a sense of tragedy. These two accomplished science fiction writers (Sargent is a Nebula award winning author) endeavored to craft a good story about the character. One can sense their love of the character as well, but the book fails as a Star Trek novel.
One of the basic tenets of a good book is that it must engage the reader, usually through drama or action. And this book fails in that respect simply because its very talky. The first chapter of the book is basically a refresher for those who might not remember the episode, "Whom Gods Destroy." The second chapter is nothing but dialogue about Garth and the mission between Captain Kirk, his officers and Admiral Mendez. The third chapter is little more than Garth meeting the crew and everyone talking about that. *sigh* All this expository dialogue leads me to conclude two things: 1) Pocketbooks has their writers padding their books. 2) Pocketbooks fails to understand their readership is intelligent enough to remember who Garth is.
Once into the meat of the novel, you have a good science fiction story with several interesting elements. The Antosians are going to have to give up their shape-shifting abilities to join the Federation. The problem is that Starfleet and Captains Garth and Kirk, in particular, are forcing this solution on them in clear violation of the Prime Directive, an idea to which they barely pay lip-service. In the end, many Antosians die in an tragic attempt to escape their own island of Elba on which Garth and Kirk have marooned them. Garth remains on their world as the ambassador to the Federation, and Kirk and company dont even get a slap on their wrists for the Prime Directive violations.
Overall, the book is talky and seems padded, but if you can get past the first three or four chapters, youll find it a thought-provoking, if not annoying read.
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