Web of the Romulans
reviewed by Carolyn Kaberline
The Romulan Empire is ravaged by disease, and S'Talon, a commander unpopular with the Praetor, is sent into the Neutral Zone as a decoy for the Empires main fleet. While there, he faces the Enterprise, and the two ships are soon engaged in combat. Meanwhile the Romulan fleet under the leadership of the Praetor himself is on its way to Canara, a Federation world where the antidote can be found.
Not only are Kirk and his crew facing the Romulan vessel, but they are also up against the Enterprise computer which has fallen in love with the captain, addressing him in endearing terms and refusing to answer to anyone but him. To be with her "loved one," the computer has also cut off all communication with the outside universe.
After Starfleet hears no word from the Enterprise, it can only presume that the ship has been destroyed with Kirk and his crew lost. Therefore, the Federation fleet under the direction of an admiral who believes all Romulans must be destroyed sets out to confront the Romulan contingent near Canara. Its up to Kirk to find a way to outwit his computer and work with Commander STalon to avoid a war which could destroy both sides.
While the book contains several humorous moments as the Enterprise computer finds ways to impress Kirk with its love, there are also several extremely tense moments as STalon and Kirk face each other in battle. When the computer removes everyones records from the computer, effectively making Kirk the only one aboard, Scotty must find a way to regain control of the ship before the Enterprise is destroyed. It is during this time that we see the main characters in unfamiliar situations: the usually unflappable Mister Spock experiences much irritation; Doctor McCoy has to work blindly with no medical records for anyone but the captain, and Captain Kirk must find a non-emotional way to work with an emotional computer. Readers also learn more of the workings of the Romulan Empire and the lengths the Praetor will go to in order to stay in power, even if it means sacrificing his best commanders.
Set in the period after the episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday," the novel moves quickly as the plot progresses. The author manages to move smoothly between the Romulan ship under the command of STalon, the Enterprise, the Praetors ship, and Canara without the confusion that could so easily occur. While the Enterprise crew may be old friends to the reader, Murdock has also managed to make us sympathetic toward many of the Romulans as well. All in all, this is a very readable novel with plenty of action and intrigue to appeal to all.
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