Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Edge of the Sword

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance, Book 1 of 3: The Edge of the Sword by Kevin Ryan
Published July 2002
Read March 26th, 2012

Previous book (The Original Series): The Last Roundup
Next book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance, Book 2 of 3: Killing Blow

Click to purchase The Edge of the Sword from!

Spoilers ahead for The Edge of the Sword!

From the back cover:
More than four hundred men and women serve aboard the Starship Enterprise NCC-1701, "boldly going where no man has gone before." What are their stories? We know of Kirk and Spock, but what of those who live, and sometimes die, under their command? Those are the best and brightest of the Federation, men and women of exceptional courage and skill.
But not all of them can be trusted.
Lt. Jon Anderson is the newest security officer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise. He joins the crew at a time of mounting tension between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Previous battles have been inconclusive, but Starfleet Command fears that the Klingons are gearing up for a major offensive. The Enterprise would be on the front lines of an all-out interstellar war.
But Lieutenant Anderson has a secret: he is actually a Klingon infiltrator assigned to sabotage Starfleet from within. His first mission: kill Capt. James T. Kirk.

My Thoughts:

The first book in this trilogy by Kevin Ryan is a very interesting take on the familiar world of The Original Series's "five-year mission." Many novels are set in this era, but these novels represent an experimental departure from the traditional Trek story set during this time. Rather than a wholly-original story that takes place between the episodes we know and love, or after them, the Errand of Vengeance trilogy runs concurrently with the first season of TOS, and makes references to events that occur during those episodes. The twist is that, behind of the scenes of the episodes we know and love, another story is taking shape. You may recall that the Federation and the Klingon Empire briefly go to war near the end of the first season, in the episode "Errand of Mercy." In Errand of Vengeance, we see the slow build-up to that conflict, and how the Enterprise was on the front lines of several skirmishes and incidents related to that later exchange.

Additionally, this trilogy was part of an experiment in which the Original Series novels were "re-booted" somewhat, and stories were told from perspectives other than that of the main "heroes" such as Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. The Edge of the Sword follows a number of original characters, all of whom are written very dynamically and well. Jon Anderson is one such character; as you read in the plot summary/blurb above, he is actually a Klingon operative who is undercover aboard the Enterprise, on a mission to assassinate Captain Kirk. As the novel progresses, we see the actions of the Enterprise crew and Captain Kirk through his eyes. Indoctrinated to believe that Starfleet is oppressive, deceitful, and treacherous, "Jon Anderson" (actually named Kell) learns that not everything he has been taught is true. Another character we learn about is Patrick West, a young xenoanthropologist who is assigned to work with Admiral Justman at Starfleet Command to prepare for the coming Klingon hostilities. He would later gain infamy as Colonel West of the assassination conspiracy in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Finally, another point-of-view character is Karel, brother to Klingon infiltrator Kell. Karel, who serves as a weapons officer aboard a Klingon battlecruiser, believes his brother to have been killed in a Federation attack.

Crewman Matthews - maybe more
than meets the eye?
These alternate points of view lend a fresh feeling to this story. It is fascinating to see the episodes of The Original Series from a new perspective. Although I've seen these episodes an umpteen number of times, The Edge of the Sword managed to make me see things in them I'd never thought of before. Characters we thought were one thing are revealed to be something completely different. This book was a lot of fun to read, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the series, as well as the second trilogy, Errand of Fury.

Final Thoughts:

I actually read this novel a number of months ago, and only recently got around to continuing the series. It was originally introduced to me as something to fill the void that was left when the Vanguard series of novels came to an end: a smart, interesting, mature take on The Original Series era, with a point of view other than the usual Star Trek cast. It did not disappoint. Now that I am finally continuing the series, I can't wait to see what Kevin Ryan has in store for these characters.

Also by Kevin Ryan:

My next read:

Next up is the second book in the Errand of Vengeance series, Killing Blow.

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