REVIEW: Star Trek: Prey – Book I: Hell’s Heart

John Jackson Miller’s 50th anniversary trilogy delivers an epic tale across the centuries. Events set into motion before the Khitomer Accords fuel the Klingon antagonist in this story of revenge, intrigue, and machiavellian maneuvers.

When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen.

Debuting on the bridge of the Enterprise-D nearly 30 years ago, Worf launched an era of unprecedented storytelling in Star Trek lore as writers crafted a cultural backstory for the Klingon species worthy of a Shakespearean play. Seventy-five years after the era of Kirk and Spock, the Federation’s mortal enemy was now wearing a Starfleet uniform, and nothing would ever be the same again.

Weaving an epic tale worthy of a 50th anniversary trilogy is no easy task, yet John Jackson Miller wrote Star Trek: Prey – Book I: Hell’s Heart as if he had planned it for over three decades, returning to the franchise’s first, and perhaps greatest enemy – the Klingons. Utilizing one of the worst defeats suffered by a Klingon at the hands of James Kirk, Miller intertwines canonical events from the television shows and films with new elements, serving as the onus for the revenge of Kruge, who perished at the hands of Kirk in a fiery pit on the Genesis Planet as it exploded in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

Prior to the birth of the Genesis Planet due to another adversary of the Enterprise, captain and crew were reminded of the long game the exiled madman played in order to exact his revenge. As the proverb reveals, “revenge is a dish best served cold”. While Khan’s plans took just decades to bear fruit, no one could have predicted how long the survivors of the House of Kruge were capable of waiting to accomplish their end game.

Star Trek Prey Book I Hell's Heart

Hell’s Heart begins in the 24th century where a Federation-led celebration honoring the members of the House of Kruge is set to get underway. Readers are then whisked back 100 years on one of the Enterprise-A’s first missions which leads it to the Briar Patch. Book I ends with the action returning to the 24th century, with the butterfly effect of the aforementioned expedition impacting current events.

Klingons at their best are not bloodthirsty monsters hell bent on conquest (although that is part of their charm), but when they are forced to interpret their storied traditions and question the honor of their actions and existence. This is where Worf has always been a lightning rod for the species. As an outsider, he has always seemed to have a better understanding of honor than most. It is this honor that once again thrusts Worf into the heart of the action (as the late Emperor Gowron so gleefully and often explained to Worf that it would).

But what happens to those Klingons who must accept dishonor and discommendation? What happens when they are no longer slaves to centuries of traditions? Prey – Hell’s Heart is a cataclysm of the old, the new, and the unknown path that every Klingon walks. Of course, this would not be a 50th anniversary story worthy of a trilogy if an Enterprise was not involved in someway, and Miller does not disappoint.

While the Enterprise-A assignment takes place not long after the crew takes command of its new ship, readers will see the early seeds of peace taking place in the mind of Spock, who years later would be the key factor in opening dialogue with the Federation’s hated enemy, resulting in the Khitomer Peace Accords. Yet prior to those events, Spock is able to impact the Klingons in an unknowing way, one which will impact the entire galaxy a century later.

An accomplished Star Wars novelist and New York Times bestselling author for those books, Miller seems as if he has been writing Star Trek forever, with his familiarity of characters and historical events. Plus, his trilogy also ties nicely into the current events and stories that Pocket Books has spun since the conclusion of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.

Expertly constructing a story with multiple story threads over a century and often occurring at the same time, Miller presents readers with a real-time presentation of events as the action heats up and a confrontation is about to occur. Quickly moving readers from Qo’Nos, to the Enterprise, and the Briar Patch, the action and drama intensifies while the mystery unfolds for the characters and readers. Revelations galore litter the final chapters, which lead to Book II: The Jackal’s Trick and Book III: The Hall of Heroes (both available now).

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Awesome book, on Part 2 now!

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