Pocket Books continue their run of hardback novels based on classic Star Trek with #02: The Lost Years by J. M. Dillard.
This novel is set at the end of the Enterprise's five year mission and is the first of a saga that fill in the gap between the original series and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Dillard also makes numerous references to her three previous novels (Mindshadow, Demons and Bloodthirst) and the characters from those stories populate this book as well. It's not necessary to read them beforehand but Bloodthirst does give some background for the opening of the novel.
As the Enterprise finally comes home, the crew go on leave and await for reassignment. Most are waiting to see what ship Kirk will be given so they can sign on while the Enterprise is undergoing its extensive refit.
However, Starfleet Command has different plans for Kirk and he is pressured into a job as an Admiral working closely with Admiral Lori Ciana as a trouble-shooter. McCoy returns to the new Fabrini world to see Natira (see 'For The World Is Hollow And I Have Touched The Sky') only to find she has moved on. He meets an anthropologist, Keridwen Llewellyn, who accompanies him back to Vulcan to visit Spock.
Spock meanwhile has settled back into a traditional Vulcan life but when Keridewn, a psi-blind pre-cog, predicts Spock and McCoy's deaths, a series of events are set in motion. As one of the Kohlinahr masters escapes with a katra of one of the most dangerous Vulcan mindlords, they have to track him down before it's too late.
Kirk and Ciana are also caught between a rock and a hard place when a diplomatic conference goes wrong and Uhura and Sarek are kidnapped by terrorists and they soon come to find that another enemy power is behind the whole thing.
The Lost Years is an ambitious project and Dillard does not disappoint. The story lines are engaging and well written, weaving all together to form a satisfying conclusion. The dialogue is sharp, chilling at times and downright hysterical in others and you'll find yourself smiling at the numerous Spock / McCoy arguments.
It proceeds along at a rapid pace and you'll find yourself devouring the 300+ pages at high speed as you'll want to find out what happens next. A great start to a new saga and a nice conclusion to story lines laid down in her previous novels.
Pick up 'Traitor Winds' by L.A. Graf for the next instalment. Although it lists this one as the third book, chronologically it is the next story before 'A Flag Full Of Stars'. Enjoy!
on 18 November 1998
I wondered if the intent of this novel was to explain how Kirk became Admiral, McCoy acquired his beard, and Spock went into his Kolinahr. If so, then the book achieved its purpose in 2 out of 3 ways--Kirk became Admiral after lots of convincing by Nogura, and Spock entered Kolinahr after experiencing lots of adventures. But how did McCoy decide to grow a beard--he looked good in it in the first few minutes of STTMP. The subplot involving the Romulans and the kidnapping negotiations was rather interesting, especially the stuff about the old wizard who possessed a Kolinahr's disciple's mind. I thought the fight between the wizard (or was it wa warlock?) and Spock's fiancee (she harbored the warlock's opponent) was great. All in all, a good novel, but it should have been renamed something else, like After the Five-Year Mission Ended...