Captain’s Blood, by William Shatner

Captain's Blood, by William Shatner book coverGenre: Star Trek
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2003
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Book Review by Jeff Edwards

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Ambassador Spock travels to the planet Romulus as part of a Vulcan-Romulan reunification effort. But Spock is assassinated in the midst of his speech at a crowded coliseum. James T. Kirk (now retired) and Captain Jean-Luc Picard are sent to investigate Spock’s murder, to determine if the violent act was meant only to hinder reunification, or if it was an indirect strike against the Federation itself. Along the way, the two starship captains find themselves in a “last-ditch effort to prevent a Romulan civil war,” and come face-to-face with a mysterious shape-shifter called Norinda who wants to spread the Peace of the Totality — although the Totality may not be the “love, and peace, and understanding” that she describes.

Captain’s Blood features characters from the original Star Trek series like Kirk, Spock, McCoy and Scotty, as well as crew members from Star Trek: The Next Generation such as Picard, Riker, La Forge and Worf. Even Admiral Janeway and her emergency medical hologram Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager make an appearance. William Shatner and his co-authors do an excellent job of adding depth to characters that easily could have been two-dimensional: Spock continues to reconcile his logical Vulcan side with his more emotional human side; Kirk protects his own self-interests while rebelling against Starfleet protocol; and Picard struggles to stay within the boundaries of his duty to Starfleet even as his friendship pulls him in another direction. Character interactions also seem to ring true in the novel: Kirk and McCoy use their easy banter as a way to dull the pain of Spock’s death; Kirk and Picard maintain their friendship and respect for one another despite sometimes conflicting agendas; and Kirk and Janeway stare each other down with icy formality.

This is a tale filled with political intrigue and subterfuge, with action scenes interspersed to keep the excitement level high. To energize the background information, the authors cleverly weave expository details within combat practice sessions at the beginning of the book: while Kirk and his son Joseph practice at bat’leth, the child’s background is revealed; during an epee match, Janeway convinces Picard to join the investigation on Romulus.

Captain’s Blood takes place after the events in Star Trek: Nemesis. Basic familiarity with Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation is probably a pre-requisite for enjoying this novel. No real knowledge of Star Trek: Voyager is needed, since Janeway doesn’t play a huge role in the adventure. Although this is the second book in the Star Trek: Totality series, readers should be able to pick up the storyline with no trouble, even if they haven’t read the first novel, “Captain’s Peril.” When necessary, the authors provide brief summaries of events from the previous book, such as Kirk’s recollection of his first meeting with Norinda.

Within the novel, Kirk thinks, “The past must be accepted so we can concentrate on changing the only thing we can — the future.” That’s an appropriate way to recommend Captain’s Blood to casual fans who have shied away from the books: There’s no time like the present to begin reading the continuing adventures of Star Trek.

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