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Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

on 31 July 2010
This is the second book in the Enterprise Relaunch series, picking up a couple of months after the events of The Good That Men Do.

The book on the whole is a fairly good read, expanding on the threads started in the previous book and setting the scene for the Romulan War books. While it is an entertaining read, there are a couple of ways in which this book suffers in terms of enjoyment.

At 475 pages, I feel the book was just too long. There isn't a great deal happens from start to finish, rather a lot of tension building and movement towards the inevitable declaration of war against the Romulans. The main drive of the story is set up in the early chapters, while the next couple of hundred pages involve a lot of going back and forth between characters, plots and even locations in order to get to the finish.

For me, the book was brought down by a couple of minor but important niggles. Firstly, repetition. It was established quite firmly in The Good That Men Do that the Vulcan Captain Sopek was in fact masquerading as the Romulan dissident Ch'uiv. Understandably, this book tries to refresh the reader's memory, but I started to feel clobbered over the head with it by page 400 that the two names referred to the same character, and didn't need him to be referred to as Sopek/Ch'uiv regularly, or the sentence or paragraph long explanations reminding me who he was.

Also in the repetition category, a lot of characters seem to do a lot of 'spreading their hands' and showing 'equanimity' an awful lot, among other descriptions. We spend a lot of time reading lengthy descriptions in between lines of speech, along with an unhealthy dose of jumping into a character's mind and reading their thoughts. It is for this reason, I gave the book only three stars, as I felt the whole thing could have been streamlined a bit to help the pace along and hold my interest. As it was, I found the book took a little longer to get through than other novels by the same authors.

My other concern is personal preference, but I wasn't overly keen on the amount of cursing characters do, even to the point of dropping an F-bomb - which unfortunately was neither well placed, nor lent anything to the action.

The action scenes, such as battles (and indeed the book on the whole), lacked a sense of pace and urgency I felt, and we end up with Columbia playing out almost exactly the same scene twice over the course of events.

While not meaning to rip the book to shreds, it was entertaining enough to hold my interest to the end, and sets up the next story nicely, with a couple of individual cliffhangers and even a mystery of a disappeared ship to tie up - which I'm hoping will see a certain main character to be brought into the fore and see a change in the attitudes and outlook, in much the same way Trip was changed by the Xindi attack in the series.

Very little of the book actually features on the titular ship and the infamous scenario any Trek fan worth their salt will know about. Rather, the book on the whole carries the theme of the Kobayashi Maru scenario - the no-win scenario, and we see most of the primary and secondary characters experience their own no-win scenario head-on at various points. The Kobayashi Maru event itself is dealt with in no great depth or given a large amount of time and doesn't really give us a proper look at the skirmish that led to the iconic training simulation seen in Star Trek II and XI, which was a little disappointing.

Rather than space battles and troop assaults, the story more focuses on the fledgling Coalition of Planets and examines the political side of impending war. I personally enjoy that take on things, and so give credit to the writers, but I would definitely prefer to see more action over politics in the next instalment.

All in all, it's one of those books that is good, not great; but is a crucial part of the post-series arc set up by the authors. Casual readers should probably avoid it if they haven't read The Good That Men Do or have no intention of reading The Romulan War. Enterprise and Relaunch fans will find this to be required reading.
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on 3 July 2012
"Kobayashi Maru" picks up after the events that occurred in the previous novel, "The Good That Men Do". For anyone who doesn't know, the title is based upon the name of the infamous no-win scenario taken by potential Starfleet command applicants and it has been a part of Star Trek lore since 1982 when it was first mentioned in the movie, "The Wrath of Khan". Therefore, when I picked up this book I was really looking forward to seeing the authors' vision of how this scenario had actually originated.

However, the story is rather more ambitious in its scope than just covering this element and the main plotline follows the reaction of the newly formed Coalition of Planets when it begins to become under attack by what appears to be Klingon ships. However, the Enterprise and its crew soon uncover that the Romulans are the true enemy and must try and prove it before the Coalition is drawn into a war against the wrong species. Meanwhile, Trip continues his espionage role from within the Romulan Empire in the hope that he can help to ensure that any war will not consume Earth and its allies.

I found that this novel mixed action, suspense, drama and political intrigue to create a rather entertaining and enjoyable novel that should appeal to many Star Trek fans. I really enjoyed the way that the story looked at the bigger picture of the overall looming conflict. It just felt a bit more realistic to see other ships and crew being involved in important events rather that it all being focussed on the Enterprise.

However, some elements of this bigger picture focus does lead to rather slow pacing in stages. Therefore I was happy to see that the slower elements of the story were broken up by quicker paced sections devoted to Trip and his spying. As well as being interesting as they explored a little bit more about the secretive Romulan Empire they were also quite simply exciting and full of suspense. Although to be honest, I still sometimes find it hard to believe that someone who wears their heart on their sleeve to the extent Trip does could really be as good at spying as is portrayed in this novel and its predecessor.

In regards to my initial interest in reading about the origins of the Kobayashi Maru scenario, I have to admit I was a little bit underwhelmed. The novel's finale is actually based around the loss of the Kobayashi Maru transport ship but it felt like it was lacking in suspense and I found it all rather bland compared to what I had seen previously in the novel. It was still nice to see someone try and create an origins story but it just didn't work as well as I hoped it would.

There were a couple of others issues I did have with the book although I can't say they either of them had any large affect on my overall enjoyment. The first is in regards to the use of alien words throughout the novel. This type of thing can sometimes enrich a novel but in this case it just seemed a little bit excessive and annoying. It basically spoilt some of my understanding of the events that were occurring as most of the alien words were measurements of distance and time and I didn't know how these referenced to our own units of measurements

The second issue I had with the novel though was in regards to the manner in which several characters reacted to events. Some of them just seemed very slow in coming to an understanding about what was happening even when it was blindingly obvious to me and I am just a random project manager and not the captain of one of Earth's prized star ships. In particular I noticed this when Captain Hernandez of the Columbia seemed unable to conceive that the Romulan ability to capture alien ships could maybe explain the strange occurrence of Vulcan ships attacking them. I just found it hard to believe that some of our best and brightest could be that dense.

In summary, I found this to be an enjoyable Star Trek novel that I think will appeal to many fans although it really does feel like a middle book in a series and makes no real attempt at being readable in a stand alone manner. Whilst, there a few minor issues that I did find irritating, it didn't really affect my interest in the story as the mix of political manoeuvring, action and drama was good enough to keep me hooked. Personally, I can't wait to pick up the next novel and see where this looming conflict between the Coalition and the Romulans will head next.
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on 6 December 2008
My initial gripe with this work was with what I considered to be a glaring continuity error; the book is set in 2155, following on from Trip's 'faked' death in... 2161! Ok, so this is the first of the post-series novels I've read, and I'd missed the (apparent) decision to justify this in context of the story, so I'll forgive the admittedly respected authors, and accept this as correct (whether or not it counts as canon...)
With that in mind, I can accept that this is a fascinating story about the birth pangs of what eventually became the United Federation of Planets, involving espionage, sabotage and diplomacy. There is a large amount of what the late Craig Hinton referred to as "fanwank", including a reference to the ST:TOS episode "A Piece of the Action", which is totally unnecessary, a tad laboured, but fun anyway, although the biggest bit of fanwank is, of course, the inclusion of the Kobayashi Maru itself, as well as Captain Archer's own solution to it (no, I'm not going to give it away, but it's worth waiting for...)
The distinct elements of the narrative include the mission of both Enterprise and her sister ship Columbia, the sinister shenanigans of the rascally Romulans (as well as Trip's attempts to spy on TWO separate factions!), and the knife-edge tension in the the fledgling Coalition council chamber. Who knows what, and how much are they telling, becomes a major issue among many of the protagonists.
Ok, so here's the controversial bit: gay Klingons! Before I get bombarded with abuse about this, let me state I am NOT homophobic. I accept that tv (and its written analogues) should reflect real life even to the extent that Star Trek can reflect real life, so homosexuality should not be treated as abnormal; remember the rumour that Lt Reed was gay? And when one of the authors is openly gay, you can reasonably expect his sexuality to be reflected in his work. But when you are presented with a gay Klingon admiral, it's a stretch too far for me. Maybe not for everyone, but there have been references (notably by Worf) to Klingon mating rituals, and I just can't can't reconcile the two concepts.
All in all, once I've adapted to the time line issue, this is basically a good, entertaining story, purporting to explain the causes of the Earth-Romulan War in 2156. If you can ignore the niggly bits, which in truth isn't too hard, you have a book you'll struggle to put down. So it falls just short of four stars for me.
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on 26 September 2008
The adventures of the first starship Enterprise continue in the latest novel sequel to a TV series that ended too soon. And in the tradition of that series, a blank spot in the rest of the Star Trek universe has been filled in.

The Koybayashi Maru was first referred to in the beginning of the film "The Wrath of Khan" as part of a Starfleet cadet training exercise. A freighter in trouble lures the trainee crew into an ambush. This book brings us the original ambush.

The Romulans are preparing war against Earth and the new Coalition of Planets, the forerunner of the Federation. Their secret weapon is a device that allows them to take control of other ships, first Klingon, later others. Using captured Klingon ships, they are on the verge of provoking the Coalition into war with the Klingons, but for Jonathan Archer and his crew, who figure out the deception.

Meanwhile, the officially dead Trip Tucker is actually alive in Romulan space trying to stop their efforts to develop a much faster warp engine.

It's good have Trip back, and in true secret within secret spy style we still don't know if the apparent Vulcan renegade Sopek is a double agent or a triple agent.

And when you get to the end, you need to read the sequel as soon as possible...because the Romulan War (referred to in the original TV series) is here.

Sadly though, it seems the sequel, called simply "The Romulan War", won't be published until October next year. One wishes the publishers of Star Trek books could bunch their connected series a little better.
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on 24 June 2013
As an avid Enterprise fan who misses the show very much, I am delighted that several books have been produced to carry on a series I wanted to continue. Thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to Enterprise fans who, like me, were saddened when the show was cancelled. Book arrived quickly, very well packaged. Thank you.
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on 4 February 2015
Great read and part of a great series. I had watched the TV series and enjoyed it very much, so these new stories, leading on from the TV series were a must read and did not disappoint.
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on 25 November 2016
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on 10 November 2013
From cover to cover and enjoyable to read! Recommend to all Star Trek fans! Brilliant plot line! Thanks to the author for write a great story of Enterprise!
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on 3 July 2014
A great read. Very in keeping with the enterprise series! I couldn't put it down as the excitement kept mounting.
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on 14 June 2009
Another gripping tale of the post-tv series Enterprise crew as they move towards the historical war referred to in TOS. It is a follow-up to The Good That Men Do, which is required reading to understand this tale.

Although looking back on it there doesn't seem to have been a great amount happening, this is probably only because it's a middle book in a series, and it's taking the crew from one place to another, with no particular plot to resolve at the end.

It is a gripping read, as are all of M&M's Trek novels, and there's always a lot happening. As can be told from the title, the story of the original Kobayashi Maru no-win-scenario is a major feature, along with some surprising deaths and an unprecedented gay Klingon.
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