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Library Computer: Review “Star Trek: The Children of Kings” May 26, 2010

by Robert Lyons , Filed under: Books,Review,TOS , trackback

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.

 

BOOK REVIEW

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.


This summer Trek books focus on reprints & collections

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.


Typhon Pact series kicks off in October

 

Comments

1. Polly - May 26, 2010

Wow Never knew this would happen, I’m acually the….never mind people get annoyed by that and so do I :)

It looks interesting as usual. I love to read so I’ll definitely have a look!

2. Atlantis1271 - May 26, 2010

looks really cool!

3. Holger - May 26, 2010

Whenever a new Pike era novel is published I kinda hope that Number One plays a major part in it, ’cause I really like that character. Does not seem to be the case in this book, but I’ll read it anyway. Seems to be an interesting story. And the Pike era is still mostly undiscovered country, still interesting.

4. Hayward - May 26, 2010

Haven’t read a Star Trek novel in ages. Maybe I’ll take this one to the beach.

5. Chris - May 26, 2010

One of the best Pike era novels I’ve read is “The Rift” by Peter David. I think it came out in the early 90′s. Its actually half the book about Pike, the other half with Kirk, but I really enjoyed the half with Pike. The characters were well written, and there were a couple of good scenes with Pike and Boyce, not to mention SOME filling out of Number One (who I wished had shown up in ST09 somehow)

I’ll probably pick this up. =)

6. AJ - May 26, 2010

I would never have thought that a fleshing out of the Boyce character would lead to him as being “tired” or “washed up.”

I always found his main scene, the martini in Sickbay, with Pike, as a major turning point in “The Cage.” He seemed a fountain of optimism in that scene, as well as a Counselor, and friend, to Captain Pike.

His talk may have even fueled Pike’s ability to resist the Talosians.

Dave Stern certainly knows his “Star Trek,” and I’d hope some of that spirit remains in his character arc for the doctor.

Sounds like a good read for my long plane-rides this summer.

7. Hayward - May 26, 2010

It looks like this could have been a “Kirk” novel, but nice change of pace.

8. Daniel - May 26, 2010

I bought this to read on a long flight last week. I hadn’t read a Star Trek novel in maybe 20 years. I give it a B-, which is a pretty good grade coming from me.

9. Oregon Trek Geek - May 26, 2010

Star Trek series now! Syfy, TBS, TNT, CBS, whatever… perhaps this novel could be adapted, although it would have to prime universe I guess…

Put JJ’s sets to work for either a series or a few TV movies! They could put those sets to work making money instead of sittin around…

10. ryanhuyton - May 26, 2010

#9

Absolutely not, thank-you-very-much!

11. Kirk's Girdle - May 26, 2010

Re: #5 Peter David always seems to find the voice of the characters.

12. P Technobabble - May 26, 2010

this is just a test – pardon the interruption

13. Chris Dawson - May 26, 2010

I just started reading it and I hope that it stays consistent with what we do know from Pike’s era from “Burning Dream’s” and maybe even the comics “Early Voyages” All in all, for me anyway, I liked this era the best and hope we can see more.

14. Loskene - May 26, 2010

I’ve always liked Dave Stern’s novels, I must give this one a look

15. jas_montreal - May 26, 2010

I’m all for Prime-timeline books. I’m starting to read the Vanguard series…. purely awesome stuff.

Just wish there would be more more more stuff coming out for the alternate timeline…

Once again…. Paramount/CBS screws up again! They won’t explore expensive property they still own.

BOBORCI… if your listening…. you guys created this alternate timeline, yet theirs not much stuff out there to explore. I don’t want those comic books… their cheap reading. I want BOOKS… NOVELS…. EPIC NOVELS… in the alternate reality……

16. Adrick - May 26, 2010

I’m a little confused about this book…the author notes in the back of the book that Children of Kings is actually intended as a prequel to the events of the 2009 movie, meaning that it’s set in the alternate timeline.

There are several elements to support this: the Klingon’s early development of a cloaking device, Pike’s notes on the difference of appearance between the saucer section corridors and the rest of the ship, the multiple references to the Ferengi, mention of armored Klingons, etc.

On the other hand, the cover features Pike, Spock, and the Enterprise as they appeared in The Cage (although it’s possible that the art was designed before the book was written, or that the publisher doesn’t have permission to use visual elements from the movie), and, most obviously, the Enterprise was to be launched under Pike’s command for the first time in the movie…unless we’re supposed to assume that the Enterprise under construction in the film is actually a refit…

I picked up Children of Kings initially excited, but ended up being completely baffled–the details just don’t match up with either the Prime or alternate timeline, so its relationship to the Star Trek universe is unclear.

17. Daniel - May 26, 2010

16. I noticed problems with that as well. In this book (if I recall) Sarek has just become Vulcan’s Ambassador to Earth but in the 2009 movie he already was when Spock was just a kid.

Even worse (and maybe I’m missing something) there’s a scene where the evil Orion lady finds out that one of the character’s (Hood?) is tapping into her computer systems, and she orders her evil sidekick to go get her. But in the next scene Dr. Boyce walks into Hood’s quarters and starts chatting with her as if nothing had happened.

Maybe I read the book too fast but there’s no way I can read one of these twice, so I guess it will just be a mystery.

18. Holger - May 27, 2010

6: I totally agree with your assessment of Boyce in The Cage.

19. Damian - May 27, 2010

#16–I think the book is a prime universe book (1st of all, Paramount put the hold on any alternate universe novels). Also Pike was in commmand of the Enterprise not even for a day in the alternate universe. I too was confused by the author’s notes here. I think he meant that his story was influenced by the movie, not that his story takes place in that universe (much like an artist saying his work is influenced by his appreciation for someone else’s work). Don’t forget, most of the characters here were not even in the movie (Number One, Dr Boyce, etc). Only the author himself can clarify this, though.

20. The Gorn Identity - May 27, 2010

To: # 15. jas_montreal…

Why are comics “cheap reading”? There are plenty of thought-provoking, intelligent comics available. Watchmen, Sandman, and The Dark Knight Returns are a few of the obvious ones.

21. SerenityActual - May 27, 2010

I enjoyed this more than the last couple that have come down the pipeline lately. Unfortunately this will be the last one I pick up until the original novels come back. It’s going to be a long summer.

22. Holger - May 27, 2010

5: Thanks for the helpful suggestion! I knew The Rift, but I had no idea Pike played a major role in it. I only knew it advertised as a Kirk-TOS-adventure.
I’ll read it.

23. noirgwio - May 27, 2010

Maybe I’m confused, but… I know in the 2k9 movie, Pike was in command of the Enterprise and everyone seems to think that was for one day. Surely it’s possible he was in command of another vessel prior to Enterprise’s building/refit – whatever it was.

Also, just because Pike gives us the impression by his dialog that the ship deserves a special send off, couldn’t it be taken as he is speaking about the new crew, not necessarily the ship – or does he specifically mention the ship? It’s been a little while since I watched the flick – gonna pop it in again soon!

Finally, I hope someone can clarify #16′s queries a little… I want to check this book out eventually, but don’t want to end up confused too. :)

24. Oregon Trek Geek - May 27, 2010

10 ryanhuyton – absolutely not to Trek series of any kind? Or one based on Children of Kings? or… absolutely not using JJ’s sets?

For me, a new trek series would be so welcomed as it’s such a bummer to wait 2 years for the next film.

Speaking of which, they should be cranking out the JJ treks like they crank out the Harry Potters and the Twilights–fast–while the cast (and the fans) are still young. Would quality suffer? Maybe not, some of the best trek has been put out under time pressure or other demands… Anyway, I had mentioned this in another thread, wishing the TOS films had been done quicker in more quantity…

25. ryanhuyton - May 27, 2010

#24

Now isn’t the time to air a new “Star Trek” series. First off, the mainstream audience is more interested in “CSI”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, or “Dancing With The Stars”. The mainstream audience is absolutely essential for CBS to justify the huge expenses needed. Secondly, the new movie sets belong to Paramount. Unlikely that they would let a rival studio use them. Third, I don’t see a great demand from Trekkies for a new series right now. I and most others would prefer to wait until after the sequel. Let the hunger build.

As for cranking out Trek movies more often, that too would be inadvisable. The truth is, more people would prefer to go see a “Twilight” or “Harry Potter” film every 1-2 two years rather than Star Trek. Two or three years in between films is the minimum amount of time desireable to ensure fans stay wanting. Plus J.J Abrams, Bob Orci and others have a life and career outside of Trek. The sequel will be directed by J.J Abrams. No one else will be considered if he is too busy. If that is the case, then the release date will be pushed back to summer of 2013, which in my opinion is probably going to happen anyway because I’m not convinced the mainstream audience is neccessarily as stoked as we are.

26. Holger - May 28, 2010

25: Good point. TV audiences don’t seem too fond of SF shows these days. But on the other hand, I think that Star Trek has always been ten times better on TV than on the big screen (even the good ones, like TWOK, are mediocre compared to the good TV episodes, IMO). So there you go: I’d like a new TV show, but I wouldn’t like it to fail miserably, which it probably would. Illogical!

27. ryanhuyton - May 28, 2010

#26

A half-hour animated series taking place aboard the Kelvin might work though. Ties in nicely to to the new movie and would obviously feature James Kirk’s parents in promenint roles.

28. Oregon Trek Geek - May 28, 2010

All good points. I am forced to concur. I guess I’ll just muddle through these long gaps with fanmade material… but I still pine (sorry) for a solid weekly live action series…. must clone original cast asap!

29. red dead ryan huyton - May 28, 2010

#28

I think the one area that we could use more of is merchandise. Books, comics, novels, models, action figures and other stuff. Can’t have enough good stuff. Especially Trek stuff.

30. departmentQ - June 1, 2010

# 28
“I still pine (sorry) for a solid weekly live action series…. must clone original cast asap!”….

possible solution: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlhHTdDqoBc

McCoy and Scotty would be problematic, though.

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