The new Hidden Universe Travel Guide to the Klingon Empire, written by prolific Star Trek author Dayton Ward and published by Insight Editions, is a strange beast, and it’s hard to know how to review it. You either like this kind of thing or you don’t, and I really did. So just like this book isn’t your standard type of fiction, this review isn’t your standard type of review. I have instead outlined the six reasons why I think you should get this book.
1. It’s fun
Anything like this is inherently tongue-in-cheek. In a way, it’s a bit of a parody of contemporary travel guides. The prose waxes eloquent on where to get the best pipius claw on Qo’noS (at the Bottomless Claw in Ketha Province) – something that obviously you or I will never really get to do. So it’s amusing both to read the text and to imagine someone sitting down to write it. My favorite parody bit is looking at all of the illustrations of hotel rooms throughout the Empire. Whereas a human travel guide showcases lovely, airy suites with fluffy beds, every single room illustration in this guide displays bare, cold stone slabs. The first one made me smile. The second one made me chuckle. Each successive one was funnier than the last.
2. It’s detailed
The book is startlingly well-researched, pulling in material from Star Trek novels as early as John Ford’s The Final Reflection (1984) and as contemporary as Keith Candidio’s The Klingon Art of War (2014). The text and the artwork reference well-known Trek lore like the Battle of Narendra III (from TNG: Yesterday’s Enterprise) and the storied history of the Khitomer outpost (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, TNG: Heart of Glory, Sins of the Father, and Birthright, Part I and II) as well as lesser-known events like the Hur’Q invasion of Qo’noS (DS9: The Sword of Kahless). You will learn a lot of Klingon history in this book.
3. It’s got hidden gems
Beyond even the research, this book is filled with Easter-eggs for Trek fans. You’ll catch art references to Star Trek Into Darkness, enjoy brief articles by famous Klingons from every series, including Worf, Martok, Gowron, Azetbur, B’Elanna Torres, and many more, and chuckle along with an article about productions of Khamlet in the original Klingon. There’s something to smile about on every page.
4. It’s meta
My favorite section was about a Klingon entertainment franchise about a starship and its crew, with stories that are “essentially parables espousing the values of Klingon honor and courage” and the franchise’s enduring nature is credited to “uplifting stories and positive outlook on imperial conquest.” It’s nice to know that the Star Trek format works in other cultures, as well!
5. It’s timely
Fans who are looking forward to Star Trek: Discovery may find some interesting tidbits in here, especially given Matt Wright’s recent TrekMovie article on the Klingons and their fire theme. There’s a late article in this book about Kahless’s elite order, the Hand of Flame, that corroborates a lot of what Matt noticed in his article, and may lay some ground work for content in Discovery. And remember, it was just announced that Dayton Ward is writing a Star Trek: Discovery novel. Time will tell!
6. It’s Klingons!
Heck, if you find Klingons interesting, you’ll love the insights into Klingon culture, and the instructions on how to interact productively with Klingon locals.
So in summary this guide to Klingons book is well printed, on great paper stock, the full-color artwork is very good, and the content is interesting. I give it my strong recommendation!
Klingon Travel Guide available now
Insight Editions Hidden Universe Travel Guides: Star Trek: The Klingon Empire was released in July and is available in stores. It retails for $19.99 but you can get it on Amazon in paperback for $13.38 or for Kindle for $12.75.