Reviewed by Captain Rocar
An older Star Trek book but still worth a read. This novel is set in the late Movie era of Star Trek, probably after Star Trek VI as Sulu is missing and the Enterprise seems to be at the disposal of Ambassador Sarek. The plot starts strongly and takes up the themes of Vulcan/Romulan common heritage and unification, as seen on screen in the TNG episode Unification. Set many years before these canon events, the novel focuses on aspects of the beginning of the unification movement with Spock and Sarek seeking to bond Teska, Spock’s niece, to a young Romulan boy. If the betrothal ceremony is successful and the pair experience Pon Farr when they reach adulthood, then it will go a long way to proving that the Romulan and Vulcan people have the same common heritage.
The author excels in his character portrayal of Pardek from Unification, and the reader gets a clear insight into how the Romulan was already plotting to betray the unification movement even at the start. Although these motivations are clear, it is a shame Vornholt did not concentrate on this and make Pardek a more central figure. The complication in the story is that whilst escorting Teska, back to Vulcan for her betrothal ceremony, the Enterprise has to deliver a delegation of Rigelians back to Rigel V. Whilst on this planet, Teska Mind Melds with a dying man, and both Vulcans must then go on the run after becoming the target of a Rigelian organized criminal network. Receiving help from a friendly clan of Rigelians, it is always “touch and go adrenaline” as to whether Spock and Teska will survive long enough for the Enterprise to find them and deliver them to the betrothal ceremony on time.
A good plot, it is unfortunate that certain aspects of it are somewhat distasteful, for example the concept of a Federation Member world having bands of criminals who kidnap children to marry them to adults, and not entirely what one would expect from a Star Trek novel. Although these aspects are limited and handled tactfully, the novel also disappoints in other areas. The Rigelians, also Vulcanoid, and their enjoyment of sex and other fun pastimes offer a stark contrast to the emotion-controlling Vulcan Spock. Although Teska, however, may be drawn towards them and terrans the reader gets less insight to the difficulties of what it is like for a Vulcan child growing up than might be expected. Likewise, it does not offer an explanation as to why Captain Spock would later choose diplomacy and take on this work to bring the Vulcans closer to the Romulans.
Whilst the basis for the story is good, this is not one of John Vornholt’s best Star Trek novels, and his ending seems a little rushed, almost like an afterthought that events 20 years later ought to be included. The author should have added another 200 pages rather than squeezing the matter into a brief epilogue.
Despite these drawbacks, the novel is a good light read if you have some time on your hands; it has a “laugh-out-loud” moment involving tribbles and links nicely with TNG events. It also offers a multitude of useful background information for anyone wishing to sim a Rigelian character in the UFOP, making it a “must read” for all you Rigelians out there.