Barbara Hambly

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline

The mood on the U.S.S. Enterprise is somber: A disguised Spock has boarded a suspicious Klingon ore transport in an effort to learn its mission; when the Klingon ship disappears in the Tau Eridani Cloud, Spock is lost and presumed dead. However, before the ship’s disappearance, Spock is able to send two short cryptic messages to the Enterprise. It is believed that these messages hold the key to the ore ship’s real mission and are valuable enough for Spock to transmit, thus giving away his location and his real purpose for boarding the freighter.

Kirk sets out to find the meaning of the messages, believing that this is his final duty to Spock; in his search he finds that the Klingons may be out to change Earth’s past—something he must stop at all costs.

While Kirk attempts to decipher Spock’s final messages, Spock himself has materialized near the town of Seattle in the 1860’s, injured, and with no memory of his past. After he is found and nursed back to health, he must learn how to survive in a human society with no knowledge of space travel or alien life forms.

While the book as a whole seems like a cross of Star Trek and the television series Here Comes the Brides, readers should find their interest held by the two main story lines: Kirk’s attempt to find the meaning behind Spock’s messages in order to save Earth and Spock’s attempt to act human in a world unfamiliar to him. And there’s even a third story line that includes the Bolt brothers’ attempt to hold on to their mountain outside of Seattle.

Readers will easily sympathize with Spock’s plight because who hasn’t found himself/herself in a totally unfamiliar situation and been forced to cope as best he/she can? The inhabitants of Seattle come across as real people with real concerns, and there's even some humor when the Bolt brothers call upon Spock to help them win some games of chance. Spock, although truly "a stranger in a strange land," does find friendship and a reason to continue to exist.

And although there is a bit of an urge to sing the theme song to Here Come the Brides at times, this is a very readable story with enough intrigue to keep readers in suspense until the very end—and that end presents a final surprise. I would highly recommend this book to all Star Trek fans and fans of Spock in particular.

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