DS9: Left Hand of Destiny, Book 1 & 2, by Jeffrey Lang, J. G. Hertzler

ds9-left-hand-of-destiny-book-1-by-jeffrey-lang-j-g-hertzler coverds9-left-hand-of-destiny-book-2-by-jeffrey-lang-j-g-hertzler coverGenre: Star Trek
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: three stars
Book Review by Fraser Ronald

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(Ed. Note: This review is for both book 1 and book 2)

I have to admit, I didn’t have high hopes for this two-parter. Still, I was a fan of Star Trek, ST: The Next Generation, ST: Deep Space 9 and I even caught a fair amount of ST: Voyager and Enterprise. I’m not going to debate the quality of the various incarnations here, but I do like a good Klingon story, so I was willing to take the plunge with the Left Hand of Destiny.

When I asked for the books to review, I had no idea that J. G. Hertzler, the actor who portrayed General Martok in DS9 was involved in the writing of this book. It made me a little bit leery, but not overly so. Since Leonard Nimoy helmed Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the Trek franchise has actually been pretty good about offering up opportunities to its actors, though usually in a directing capacity.

Right away, I was pleasantly surprised by the writing. I’m not talking great literature here, but good, crisp narrative and believable dialogue that kept me moving. Obviously, as the actor that embodied the role, Mr. Hertzler would have some insight into Martok, but–along with co-writer Jeffrey Lang–he has also captured the sense of the Klingon culture that I had grasped from the various series.

The story centres around a bid to wipe away Martok and his supporters by a rabidly anti-Federation demagogue. It opens with with vast destruction and pursuit. This is Book One of the pair. The two books could be divided (rather cavalierly I might add, with apologies to Messr.s Hertzler and Lang) into the pursuit/chase book (Book One) and the assault/combat book (Book Two). Not a bad idea really, except that I rather appreciate my salad to be tossed before I devour it. Variety and all that. Still, it could have been worse.

The seeming focus of the two books detracted somewhat from my enjoyment. In each book, Martok and his family–through coincidence or design, depending upon the particular scene–flop from one set-piece into another, either being chased or getting into fights. It reminded me a little of Last of the Mohicans (the book James Fenimore Cooper, not the movie{s}). I was never a really big fan of the book because it seemed like the story only existed to draw the heroes (and damsels) from one threat to the next. The Left Hand of Destiny had that feeling to it. I guess one can’t feel insulted being compared to the Last of the Mohicans.

Parts of this story seemed a little silly and some of the science is ill-concieved and never really explained (not even in the famous techno-babble way of the TV incarnations). However, for myself–not a follower of the literary Star Trek, rather of the TV and motion picture variety–I would consider this pretty much par for the course. In my opinion, Star Trek could never be considered ‘hard’ science fiction. It is unabashed and successful space opera wearing the guise of science fiction for its general audience. That’s not a problem. Space Operas, however, tend to have ridiculous or at the very least questionable technology. No problem.

I would say this two-part series gave me exactly what I would want out of a Star Trek adventure–entertainment. I really enjoyed Mr. Hertzler’s exploration of Martok. This is a very well-rounded character study. Much of the supporting cast are likewise well-drawn characters. In keeping with its space opera style, the threat is implacable, global and all-but inescapable. This story would have been a perfect vehicle for those Saturday afternoon matinees of yester-year with their legendary cliff-hangers. I think, if offered the chance, I would read another novel written by J. G. Hertzler or Jeffrey Lang. That is, actually, a pretty fair accolade.

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