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Captain's Blood - Someone Shoot Shatner
on 18 January 2004
Captain's Blood, the latest Kirk escapade penned by William Shatner and Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, begins in the wake of Star Trek Nemesis. Spock, speaking for the cause of Unification on Romulus, is assassinated in the opening, fuelling Starfleet to request Jim Kirk, his son Joseph, Bones, Scotty, Picard, La Forge, Crusher and the holographic Doctor to go and investigate. A promising start indeed.
The story gets you involved rather quickly, with the Romulan Star Empire's stability on tenterhooks and the mysterious Remans looming over the page, you begin to expect good things from this novel. I was personally disappointed with Shatner's continuation of Kirk's adventures after Avenger, which was good, but not as good as The Return, or even The Ashes of Eden. The mirror universe trilogy bored me to tears. It seems so lame to me, so irrelevant. So I was happy when he left that one alone. But now I'm unhappy again. Shatner introduces Norinda, a character from Kirk's original mission aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701. Things start to go down hill around here; the story starts to put the breaks on. They never even get to Romulus, and get to unravel the political mess it is in, never encounter the Tal Shiar, because this wildcard character is responsible for everything.
As a fan, I personally believe that Star Trek literature should exist primarily to explore more of what has already been laid out in film and television. The return of Kirk was a welcomed exception. So when you start reading a book that starts with a nice Romulan adventure, and ends with the beginning of a galactic invasion, little or nothing to do with a possible Romulan Civil war, you feel milked. Milked for your money I mean, because it seems Shatner is reeling these books off for the hell of it now. The detailed characterisation we appreciated in The Ashes of Eden, The Return and Avenger are just not there. The exploration of the Star Trek universe has seemingly ended. This book was a perfect opportunity for Shatner and the Reeves-Stevens's to tell us more about the dichotomy of the Romulan people, to tell us the story of Picard and Kirk seeking the truth behind the apparent death of their friend Spock. It was also the chance for us to see the return of the Tal Shiar, the Romulan secret police, we all know how much fun they can be. But no, they may have gone to Romulus, they may be on Remus, but it's nothing to do with Romulans, nothing to do with Remans, its all thanks to an intergalactic shape-shifter. Woo.
This book seems to be the child of a misplaced hunger for surprise. It's as if Shatner said, well, this book is about the catastrophic possibility of a Romulan/Reman civil war. But I want to surprise the fans: I want to put a twist in it! I know what's original! An invasion from another galaxy! Nothing whatsoever to do with the Romulan Star Empire! Great thinking, Bill.
This book seems a purely empty journey, solely for the purpose of another sequel, Captain's Glory. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, if the 'surprise' plot twist (that of Norinda being responsible for EVERYTHING), had been delivered with more skill and grace that it was, it might have been interesting. But it wasn't, because it's written like silly string.
You should probably only read half way through this book, and then put it on your shelf to collect dust. Yes, it would leave you wondering what happened; where did the story go? Well, I read the whole book, and I was still left wondering where the potentially engrossing novel I was reading went to. It must have been beamed out of Shatner's mind as he wrote it.
Out of 10, if 1 is 'a complete waste of time', and 10 is 'I'm a richer person for having read Captain's Blood', then I'd give it a 2, tops. These books continuing the adventures of James T. Kirk should be entitled 'Star Trek: The Continuing Adventures of Bill Shatner's Retirement Fund'.
At least we have the next instalment, Captain's Glory, promised to us. That will surely tell us more of the impending GALACTIC INVASION we can look forward to. I for one can't wait ;)