Captain’s Peril, by William Shatner

Captain's Peril, by William Shatner book coverGenre: Star Trek
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Published: 2004
Reviewer Rating:
Book Review by Lynn Nicole Louis

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It is with some chagrin that I write this review. Dave has been begging me to review some Star Trek books–he has a huge backlog of them–but I’d been resistant. Most media tie-in books I’ve taken a chance on disappointed me. They tend to ‘preach to the choir’ in the sense that they skimp on plot and character because the author assumes that any reader is already going to be a fan and thus be familiar with many of the story elements. Finally I caved and accepted Captain’s Peril. To my surprise, and despite some of the weaknesses I just noted regarding plot and character, I thoroughly enjoyed it, enough so that I’ll give another Star Trek book a try.

My ignorance of the series will no doubt show in this review. The Dominion War (whatever that was) is over Kirk and Picard are taking a long-deserved holiday on Bajor (about all I know about Bajor is that they are the folks with the funny nose bridge). Bajor apparently used to be occupied by the Cardassians in the not-so-distant past. Now liberated (not sure how it happened), the Bajorans are busy rediscovering their past. Exploration of archaeological sites is a big part of that.

Being an amateur archeologist, Picard is excited at the opportunity to participate in a dig at an ancient Bajoran site. Not sure why Kirk was tagging along, or even how he got to Picard’s era. I admit to a little bit of research to try to figure out relative time for all this. It’s Stardate ~55,000, some 54,000 star dates past when Kirk took over as Captain of the Enterprise. McCoy is 152 in this book (they mention it) but no mention is ever made about how old Kirk is. From the physical things he does in the book, I doubt he’s anywhere near McCoy’s age, so I’ll assume he was somehow propelled in to the future a la some space time continuum wormhole thing. I bet a dedicated fan could fill me in….

Once on planet, Kirk and Picard become embroiled in intrigue surrounding the dig. Seems someone died, and in such a way that it couldn’t have been an accident. The small group of scientists the two captains find equipment sabotaged, leaving them isolated from Deep Space Nine and any hope of rescue, while they are stalked by a murderer. It ends up being an interesting whodunit as Kirk and Picard solve the mysterious deaths and solve the riddle surrounding one of Bajor’s greatest living treasures, an Orb of the Prophets.

The murder mystery is only half the story however, as it is interspersed with Kirk telling about the first time his orders resulted in the death of a crewman shortly after he took over as Captain of the Enterprise. It’s vintage Star Trek, cut from the series I grew up with (admittedly in re-runs). The two story lines aren’t really related, but each is interesting on its own for different reasons: the interplay of the two captains as they try to solve the murders and the classic episode feel of Kirk’s recollection.

If you aren’t a Star Trek fan at all, I don’t think you would enjoy this. I watched the original series as a kid and have caught many Next Generation episodes in reruns, so I had more than a passing acquaintance with the characters of Kirk and Picard; Shatner (and his co-authors) do an excellent job capturing their essence.

With that in mind, fans of the original series and NG make the best audience. If you’re hot for Janeway or come looking for Cisco (did I spell that right?) from Deep Space 9, you’re going to be out of luck. My rating comes with a caveat: for original series and NG fans, I give it four stars, for fans of the other series, I give it two. Non-fans would probably be bored to tears.

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