Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two by J.G. Hertzler & Jeffrey Lang
Published April 2003
Read November 6th 2014

Previous book (Deep Space Nine): The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One

Next book (Deep Space Nine): Unity

MMPB: | |

Spoilers ahead for The Left Hand of Destiny!

From the back cover:
"The true test of a warrior is not is within." Sins of the past collide with hopes for the future as Martok fights for the right to lead the Klingon Empire. With the secret of his usurper exposed, the ousted chancellor and his ragtag band of followers embark on a desperate plan to retake the empire.
But while Worf, Ezri Dax, and the crew of the IKS Rotarran go in search of the Klingons' most revered icon of power, Martok is dealt the most crushing blow of all -- driving him to make his final stand on the ice-strewn cliffs of sacred Boreth. As that frozen world reverberates with the song of armies and bat'leths clashing, the mystery of Martok's past, and the future of the Klingon Empire, is revealed.

Notable quote:
Martok looked strange. Which you would think I'd be used to by now, Pharh thought. Every time I turn around there's something going on with this guy. On more than one occasion in the past several days he wondered if perhaps his friend suffered from some sort of neurological ailment. Stares into space a lot, Pharh had noted. Talks to thin air a lot. Doesn't sleep enough, either. Bet there's a pill you could take for whatever he's got. But, no, Martok's problem wasn't a neurological disorder; Martok's problem was a surfeit of destiny. Too much destiny is bad, he concluded. Too much destiny is how you find yourself too often in a disruptor's crosshairs. Pharh was glad that destiny had more or less ignored him. You're just an anonymous little Ferengi and that's a good thing to be.

My thoughts:

In my review of book one, I noted that The Left Hand of Destiny had the feel of a Shakespearean play, with larger-than-life characters and stories of the rise and fall of empires. Now, in book two, the story has coalesced into something a little different. Rather than feeling Shakespearean in tone, the second book has the story take on the feel of something a little more Tolkein-esque.

Many of the characters in this story embody roles that would feel right at home in The Lord of the Rings or another similar story. Martok, the king who would take the throne of an ailing, aging empire, returning honor to the crown. The aging emperor Kahless is very much in the spirit of Gandalf, and is even referred to as a wizard during the course of the story. And of course, Pharh, the ever-loyal servant who at first appears to be unequal to the tasks required of him, but who embodies true bravery and courage in the face of evil. Additionally, I would almost go so far to say that Pharh became my favorite book-only character over the course of this re-read.

Characters in The Left Hand of Destiny embody similar character archetypes as one would see in The Lord of the Rings or other similar fantasy tales.

While The Left Hand of Destiny has this Tolkein-like quality to it, at no point did the story seem out of place in the wider Trek universe. The prose immediately draws the reader into the world of heroic deeds and great victories, while never seeming out of the realm of possibility and maintaining the realistic verisimilitude embodied by the best Star Trek stories.

I was recently asked by a friend of mine what the appeal of reading Star Trek novels is. "Aren't they all just the same story?" she asked me. What people who don't read the novels (or aren't fans of Star Trek) don't realize is that the Star Trek universe is merely a setting, and one that is as rich and as full of depth as any other setting. Granted, when people think of Star Trek, the familiar situation of a crew flying around seeking new life and new civilizations (and fighting the Klingons) is what generally comes to mind. But the world of Star Trek literature is so much more, and The Left Hand of Destiny demonstrates that truth admirably. Whether it's Dr. Bashir battling Section 31 by going deep undercover in the organization or agents Dulmer and Lucsly of the Department of Temporal Investigations keeping an eye on space-time anomalies, there is room in Star Trek for nearly any story you can think of. Even if that story merely involves exploring a new planet or fighting some Klingons from the bridge of a familiar starship.

Final thoughts:

When these novels first came out, I remember being a little wary. At this point in the Deep Space Nine relaunch, I was eager to get back to what was going on on the station, with the parasites from TNG's "Conspiracy" making a dramatic return and the crew of the Defiant returning to the Alpha Quadrant with Jake and Kai Opaka. I felt that taking a break from that and going back in time for a Klingon story would be a mistake. However, when I saw that it was J.G. Hertzler who co-wrote the novels, I changed my mind somewhat. What really sold me was when I finally read them. This duology is an incredible read, and there are moments while reading it that I actually became quite emotional. The story is an epic one, and the characters are very memorable. Hertzler and Lang draw you in and leave you absolutely emotionally invested in this story. The Left Hand of Destiny has gone on to become one of my favorite Star Trek stories of all time, and this re-read was nearly as rewarding as when I first read it over a decade ago.

My next read:

Provided I get enough free time for reading this week, you can look forward to a review of New York Times bestselling author Greg Cox's latest Trek work, The Original Series: Foul Deeds Will Rise next Thursday! Until then, Qapla'!

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