Book Reviews

Book Review: Star Trek: Ashes of Eden by William Shatner et. al.

When viewing the movie Star Trek: Generations, which brings together Captain Kirk (William Shatner) from the original Star Trek series with the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Kirk’s idea of perfection is spending time with “the woman he left behind,” someone named Antonia. In the novelization of that movie, his idea of perfection is being with past love Dr. Carol Marcus and their son together, David, (whom fans met in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan).

Not once in either of these was the name Teilani mentioned :-^

When I was given two boxes of Star Trek books and found those authored by Shatner among them, I checked the listing in the books themselves to try to determine which order they should be read in. It listed Ashes of Eden as third, following Star Trek: The Return and Star Trek: Avenger. This is incorrect. Ashes of Eden should actually be the first book read in the series.

Ashes of Eden covers the period of time just before the events in Star Trek: Generations. There is no crossover to the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation if that’s what you’re looking for.

The novel begins with Kirk finding himself generally pushing papers around at Starfleet, and none too happy with his life. He is involved again with Dr. Carol Marcus, but the relationship has gone stagnant.

During a diplomatic reception, he spots a beautiful young woman in the crowd and is immediately drawn to her. Unfortunately, she disappears before Kirk has a chance to meet her. On a trip to his family’s farm in Iowa, she appears. The two are then attacked by two unknown assailants, who do, however, share the same heritage as the woman: they are half-Klingon and half-Romulan.

The woman’s name is Teilani. She purports to be seeking out Kirk to help her planet. The aging Starfleet icon sees in Teilani the chance to feel and be young again, and goes along with her. Little does he know that he is being played as part of a carefully construed plot by the new head of Starfleet, Androvar Drake. There is a history between Drake and Kirk as well.

Meanwhile, all is not quiet with Kirk’s old crew either. Following the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, the Klingon Empire is in disarray, and much of its weaponry has been making its way onto the black market. Chekov and Uhura have spent six months working on refining their identities as arms brokers as they pose as intermediaries in weapons trades. Sulu is the Captain of the Excelsior, assigned to follow them and only become involved if it seems their lives are in immediate danger. Chekov and Sulu dispute what the definition of that is.

Meanwhile, Spock and McCoy are working at Starfleet in much the same capacity as Kirk. Scotty’s whereabouts are unknown until he turns up as the Engineer aboard the vessel Teilani has secured to help in the defense of her planet: a decommissioned Enterprise.

The stories are woven together in a way that at times seems too coincidental at times. The main plot into which Kirk and the others are manipulated is not revealed until near the end, and I found it hard to believe that everything plotted out so intricately would fall into place as easily as it does.

However, unlike the other two novels by Shatner and Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, this one has a bit more of a realistic feel to it. Kirk is portrayed as having a hard time with what growing older means. He longs for the adventure and purpose of his younger days. To this end, he is an easy mark in a certain sense to be manipulated by both Teilani and his adversaries – who know him very well.

The book is written in great detail, making it easy to picture what is happening as I read it. Even the paradise planet of Chal, which Teilani wants Kirk to come help protect, is written in exquisite detail, making the events there easy to imagine. I would venture a guess that both of the Reeves-Stevens’ can take credit for filling in the details that make the book work so well.

The one glaring problem I have with the novel is the depiction of the animosity between Chekov and Sulu. It seems like every opportunity that comes up to characterize Sulu as nothing more than a suck-up to the various brass at Starfleet is taken. This was never my impression of the character in the series, and I can’t imagine what led to this characterization. Though I wouldn’t have agreed with it, I would have understood Shatner painting Scotty a bit on the nasty side since there is quite a bit of bad blood between Shatner and James Doohan, Scotty’s portrayer.

The situation between Sulu and Chekov did take away a bit from the novel as it seemed so out of place. Likewise, after having such a corrupt administration in Starfleet during the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, one would think that everything possible would be done to make sure that it doesn’t happen again; someone with impeccable credentials in this area would be chosen to lead Starfleet into the future. Instead, readers are treated to more corruption from within. (This is no big spoiler; it’s pretty easy to figure it outright from the beginning.) I can’t understand how Starfleet might have survived after two notorious incidents of corruption from within.

Whether it was because of the success of this novel that Shatner was given greater latitude with the next two novels, or if the success went to his head, I can’t say for sure. However, out of the three of them, I do like this one much better. At least Kirk does not seem to be acting as the heroic thirty-something starship Captain of the original series.

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