I purchased this book many years ago, but it lingered in my “to read” pile for quite some time. I’m not sure why. Many other science fiction books came and went during that time and I kept bypassing this one.
The story begins with familiar characters. It’s shortly after the Dominion War when the Romulan Empire is attacked by a new enemy calling themselves the Watraii, testing the new alliance between the Federation, the Romulans, and the Klingons. Ambassador Spock and Captain Saavik, now married, along with many familiar faces from the original series, defy orders to come to the aid of the Romulans.
The book shift back to give us the history of the planet Vulcan during its years embroiled in a nuclear war that threatened the entire planet. This is during the age of Surak, who has been mentioned in Vulcan history in other parts of the series canon. These stories involve a new cast of characters who may not see the Vulcan world in the same way as Surak, but defend his right to express himself.
The history is quite interesting and dominates this first book of a trilogy. Fans expecting to only read of the adventures of familiar characters from the original series will be disappointed with all of the historic material. Indeed, there were times I became tired of it and thought of skipping over some of it, but I stuck with it. The material is there to set up what is happening in the “current” period just after the Dominion War. I have a few thoughts on where that is going, but will have to wait and see what develops.
As far as the characters go, they are well written, both those familiar to us and new ones coming out of Vulcan history. They were multi-dimensional as they evolve in the story during some horrible conditions on the planet Vulcan. We get into their heads and see the different philosophies of the warring factions of the planet. No one seems inherently evil, just having differing religious and societal views, which cause them to act against others who feel differently. There are also some factions that just crave power in any form. It’s quite familiar, if a bit more intense due to the fact that there are actual nuclear weapons involved in the conflict.
I had a hard time with it as the history parts seemed to be harder to get through with no familiar people. By the end of the book, though, I was looking forward to the next one. I think I can see where it’s going and the history needs to be this detailed to make all of the characters and the conflict believable.
The familiar crew here are interesting, despite being quite a bit older. I loved the Spock/Saavik narrative although I always saw their relationship quite differently. It’s nice to see Uhura getting some recognition and accolades in Starfleet Intelligence while Chekov is teaching those of the next generation at Starfleet Academy.
Speaking of the next generation, I’m expecting to see more from the crew of the Enterprise D as well as Deep Space Nine. I’m hoping that picks up in the next book.
If you’re willing to invest the time into the three books, this looks like a promising beginning. The abrupt ending makes this impossible to view as a stand-alone book; you have to read all three. The story is not resolved and will be continued. If you’re not willing to get through this to see where the story goes in the future, I don’t think you’ll enjoy it.
Next book in the series (link): Star Trek: Vulcan’s Soul – Exiles