As the flotsam and jetsam of Starbase 18 drifts into the depths of the eternal night, the Starship Enterprise arrives to find answers, and perhaps to take the first steps towards war in the new novel "Star Trek: The Children of Kings". David Stern takes into the world of Trek before Kirk, with Captain Pike, Spock, Number One, and Dr. Boyce. Find out how it all works out in our new review of the novel.
Star Trek: The Children of Kings
Written by David Stern
Mass-market Paperback – 416 pages ($7.99)
As rubble and debris from Starbase 18 continue to drift through the deeps of interstellar space, the crew of the starship Enterprise arrives to carry out a grim post-mortem, in the hopes of discovering the identity of the base’s attacker. Suspicion immediately focuses on the Klingons, but right off the bat, oddities appear; and so do the Orions.
Thus opens “The Children of Kings”, Dave Stern’s new Star Trek novel, which focuses on the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike in a time of tension and uncertainty for the Federation. Pike, lured to command of the Enterprise by promises of a grand exploratory mission on the part of his superiors, finds himself staring a looming war in the face, unless he can do something to prevent it.
As “The Children of Kings” unfolds, the Orions, led by Lyian, appear to stand ready to offer assistance to Pike’s crew, but ultimately they have deeper motive, one rooted in a typically Orion proclivity for self-serving interests above the big picture.
From this point on, while Pike, Spock, Number One, and a whole host of others play varying roles, the story truly becomes Philip Boyce’s, as the Starfleet doc is reminded of his past successes in genetics and faces a difficult puzzle aboard the Orion ship which may be the key to keeping himself and his companions alive.
As Pike and company are entertained by the Orions, the Klingons pose amounting threat, and other starships come to the aid of the Enterprise in maintaining security in the region; all the while blissfully unaware of the real instigators of the Starbase 18 disaster, and the motives behind the destruction.
“The Children of Kings”, at times, falls into mildly formulaic storytelling; Pike’s overall story arc is rather expected (though, admittedly, somewhat Kirk-esque), and Spock will be Spock. It is, however, Boyce who consistently shines throughout the story. In exploring aspects of his past and his relationship with his daughter, some flesh is put on the bones of the Enterprise physician, giving him a more rounded out persona than a tired old washed-up doctor, a stereotype that sometimes follows him based on his appearance in “The Cage”. Stern does an excellent job of bringing a degree of vitality to Boyce that makes him feel like an important member of the Enterprise crew. Truly, the story is his.
Number One doesn’t fair too well, remaining her enigmatic self throughout, with little of consequence revealed about her. The guest cast, however, brings along some interesting twists, with Ben Tuval, the ship’s security chief, and Lieutenants Hoto and Hardin, also of security, bringing much needed depth to the red-shirted profession soften treated ignominious deaths at the end of a phaser blast.
Ultimately, however, the biggest disappointment of “The Children of Kings” is the proliferation of open-ended questions, particularly surrounding Phil Boyce. While one might speculate that the book is a setup for a sequel – which would be welcome! – it doesn’t seem all that likely. The story arc itself is concluded, it’s the background the feeds into the actions of the crew that remains vague but enticing, a background we, most likely, will never discover.
Star Trek: The Children of Kings available now
"Children of Kings" was released at the beginning of the month and is available in book stores and on Amazon.
Next New Star Trek Novel in October – Summer of Reprints/Collections
Originally the summer of 2010 was to be filled with four new novels set in the new Star Trek movie universe, however those books were put on hold. To fill the void Pocket will be releasing two collections of Starfleet Corps of Engineers ebooks: "Star Trek: SCE: Out of the Cocoon" (July 20th) and "Star Trek: SCE: What’s Past" (August 24th). Pocket will also release the mass market paperback reprint of Alan Dean Foster’s "Star Trek (2009) Movie Tie-In" on Augusts 31st. Pocket has announced a September reprint of Laurell K. Hamilton’s "Nightshade" (and released a new cover), but that isn’t available for pre-order.
In October things pick up with David Mack’s "Star Trek: Typhon Pact – Zero Sum Game", the first of four new 24th century ‘Typhon Pact’ novels. And in November Simon Spotlight releases "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy – The Delta Anomaly", by Rick Barba, the first of two new young adult novels tied into the 2009 Star Trek movie.