The Romulan Way
Diane Duane

reviewed by J. Richard Laredo

There are two kinds of results when writers decide to pool their talents. One is a story that fits together seamlessly in both style and theme, defying any to say who wrote what. The other is one where it is obvious whose ideas are which.

Terise LoBrutto, surgically altered to best resemble a Rihannsu, has dwelt as a slave in a minor house on ch'Rihan to discover as much as possible about Rihannsu psychology. She'd been hidden for eight years, and her superiors in Starfleet have become concerned that she's forgotten her primary objective. A desperate plan is employed, involving McCoy getting captured by the Rihannsu. Once incarcerated, he would contact Terise, known as Arrhae ir-Mnseha t'kellian, and determine if she is fit to stay. Interspersed with this story is a history of the Rihannsu, how they came to reject Vulcan and the teachings of Surak, and how they came to be such adversaries of the Federation.

The history is wonderful, detailing almost poetically the nobility of Vulcans, the logical inevitability of The Journey and the fate of the eighteen thousand (out of Eighty Thousand) who settled on the twin worlds of ch'Rihan and ch'Havran. The reader becomes privy to all the whys of Rihannsu behavior, and it all makes such perfect sense.

Just as convincing are the day-to-day affairs of Arrhae as hru'hfe of H'dean tr'Khellian. While living such a life would be unthinkable for most reared as we are in Western society, it is not incomprehensible. In fact, it becomes obvious why she loves her life, that there is a pattern in its uncertainty, and why she regards it as home.

Not quite convincing is the story line which brings McCoy into Arrhae's ordered life. No plan, not even the wildest of Captain Kirk's, could possibly hinge on so much coincidence. Not only does McCoy have to stay alive long enough to get to the Rihannsu planets, he has to count on being detained on the same planet that Arrhae is on, and be under house arrest in the same estate that she is in. Two really big coincidences, which very nearly dooms the idea behind the novel.

However, getting back to the pluses, there is the return of Ael i-Mhiessan t'Rilaillieu, the personification of Rihannsu nobility first introduced in Duane's My Enemy, My Ally, and we see more (in more ways than one) of now Lieutenant Naraht, the Horta also from Duane's previous novel. There are enough to give The Romulan Way a Warp 7.5.

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