J.M. Dillard

reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline


When the planet Aritani comes under attack, the U.S.S. Enterprise is sent to provide assistance. As Kirk, Scott, and McCoy visit with Natahia, the leader of the planet, Spock uses the time to explore some features of the plateau they are on. Kirk quickly develops a plan to help capture one of the planet’s raiders, but becomes worried when Spock fails to report as scheduled. After a lengthy search, the Vulcan is found seriously injured at the plateau’s base; his return to consciousness is highlighted by amnesia of recent events and a lowering of all Vulcan mind controls. Even though an expert in Vulcan neurology is brought to the Enterprise, Spock’s recovery is slow and several setbacks—including what appears to be a suicide attempt—occur. Spock is finally sent to his family on Vulcan to recover both physically and mentally.

In the meantime, Scotty and his engineering department erect a shield over the planet to protect it from further raids. Once it appears safe to do so, shore leave is allowed on the pristine planet which soon comes under a deadly attack despite the shields. When Kirk appears unable to protect the planet, Natahia rejects further help. Although Aritani is not a part of the Federation, Kirk still feels obligated to stop the raiders and to determine their source—even without the help of his first officer.

With two main plots—Spock’s rehabilitation and the search for the raiders of the planet Aritani—readers are sure to remain engaged throughout the novel. Throughout the course of the story, we see a very vulnerable Spock try to regain the Vulcan mind disciplines and feel much of his frustration as he attempts to do so. Because of this frustration, he acts in very uncharacteristic ways, and it soon appears he may never be able to function in either Vulcan or Human society again. In addition, when the Enterprise captures a Romulan pilot in a new attack on the planet, another complication is added: The prisoner soon turns up dead while under guard and it looks like Scotty may be responsible. Attempts to sabotage the Enterprise provide even more problems for the crew, and it soon looks like this is one mission that will fail.

Against this back drop of intrigue, readers will see McCoy finding a relationship with Emma Saenz, the neurologist sent to help Spock. This relationship provides a minor but important plot line as well.

While this story provides plenty of action for the adventure fan, it also displays more character development and growth than can be found in many Star Trek novels. We also see more friction between the main characters than is usual: McCoy believes that Kirk is trying to cut in on his new found love interest, and Spock’s belligerence spills over into his relationships with his family and others who try to help him. The plot also provides numerous twists—especially after we find that Emma Saenz is not what she seems to be.

In short, this book deserves a close read to give justice to the plot and the characters, but allowing the necessary time will provide a rewarding experience.

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