Thursday, 3 October 2013

Star Trek: The Children of Kings - David Stern



Title: The Children of Kings
Author: David Stern
Published: 2010
Chronological Period: 2251

Available at:
Amazon
The Book Depository
Amazon UK

Review:
“The Children of Kings” by Dave Stern is the latest book in my challenge to try and read all the Star Trek novels in chronological order. To be honest, I am not that sure if I read this novel in exactly the correct place as it more or less lives in its own continuity. Either way though, the story does offer the reader a rare insight into Pike’s era as Captain of the Enterprise.

The story follows Captain Pike and his crew as they investigate a remote Federation base that appears to have been attacked and destroyed by Klingons. Whilst most of the crew are quick to condemn the Klingons, a few of them suspect there is something else afoot and begin to question some of the findings. Things get even worse however when they pick up a distress call from an Orion ship and their attempt to assist results in several of the crew being captured and the apparent death of Pike himself. Before long, tensions begin to escalate and the risk of war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire is a real possibility.

I found the whole novel to be an enjoyable adventure that really did capture the cowboy diplomacy style of Star Trek’s original series. Yes this did mean at times the story was a little formulaic, but it was still fun to follow and I really appreciated the chance to learn a little more about the Orion’s culture and some characters that we know little about. One weak point in the story though was the lack of real tension. The reader always knows that Pike can’t really be dead and any potential surprises are lost by the fact you get to follow both the crew on board the Enterprise and those that have been captured.

As I mentioned earlier in the review, the book does appear to be in its own continuity which did at times cause a little bit of confusion as I read it. There are various inconsistencies with canon and for some reason the author’s note stating that the story is set as prequel to the 2009 JJ Abrams movie doesn’t appear until the end of the novel. Even with this clarification, I was still a little perplexed when I put the book down as during the move it is stated that we were witnessing the maiden voyage of the Enterprise so couldn’t understand how I was seeing earlier voyages. However, since finishing this book I have started to read the graphic novel series that serves as a prequel to the 2nd JJ Abrams movie and those stories contain information that there was a previous ship called the Enterprise previously captained by Robert April so I have just assumed that this story was set on that ship.

It is just unfortunate that the author’s note about which universe the book is set appears at the beginning of the story as it could have stopped some of the confusion about things that didn’t fit right with standard canon. Also, it would have been nice to see a form of clarification that this wasn’t the same Enterprise as seen in the movie assuming that I am right in my belief that it didn’t. In addition, the cover itself appears to show the prime universe Pike & Spock which really doesn’t help with a reader trying to understand the overall setting.

Overall, this was a fun and enjoyable Star Trek adventure although I can imagine that some of the canon inconsistencies could irritate some readers even with the caveat that the story is set in the JJ Abrams universe.