Part of the joy of reading Star Trek
novels is the opportunity to learn more about characters who we only briefly got to know in an episode or two of the television series. Such was the case with the previous novel I reviewed, DS9: Force and Motion
and its exploration of Benjamin Maxwell. That opportunity arises once again in this novel, Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain
Una, known as "Number One," the enigmatic first officer of the Enterprise
under Captain Pike, has long remained a mystery. Seen only in the original unaired pilot, "The Cage" (and then again in reused footage for the Original Series'
only two-parter, "The Menagerie"), Number One struck me as a fascinating character about whom I would love to know more. Over the years, there have been a number of stories that go deeper into her character, most notably for me the Star Trek: Crew
comic series by John Byrne. However, Captain to Captain
explores her character more deeply than any other Star Trek
novel has before.
|Captain Una feels extreme guilt and and responsibility for the loss of a landing party under her command years ago under Captain Robert April.|
This does serve to give the story a bit of a disjointed feel, with Kirk, Spock, and company only featuring at the beginning and end of the novel, with the middle given over to flashbacks showing a mission that Una led years earlier. During the course of this mission, then-Lieutenant Una lost a number of crewmembers, who were transported to an alien universe by a hostile species, the Jatohr.
The drama centers around the "transfer key," a Jatohr device that can instantaneously transport someone from our universe to the alien realm. The key has been secreted away in the captain's quarters of the Enterprise
since the days of Robert April, the first captain of the Enterprise
. The key has remained the secret of each captain and first officer until now, when Captain Una steals the key in an attempt to rescue the crewmembers she left behind years earlier.
Captain to Captain
is certainly an interesting start to the Legacies
trilogy, but it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. The focus of so much of the story on Robert April's days on the Enterprise
and the spotlight on the character of Una surprised me, and it took some time to get used to.
|The "transfer key" is the central plot device of this trilogy, a weapon that is very reminiscent of the Mirror Universe's "Tantalus Field," and may have similar origins.|
As far as setups go, Captain to Captain
does its job, laying the groundwork for the adventure yet to come. The central conceit of an artifact handed down from "captain to captain" doesn't really work for me; the logic of the situation tends to tall apart upon close examination. However, it is an adequate MacGuffin to get the plot in motion.
There are certainly some exciting parts in this novel: the Enterprise
's chase of Captain Una as she makes off with the Transfer Key was a lot of fun, and did a lot to establish just how impressive this character is. Additionally, the cliffhanger ending does a great deal to make me excited for the next chapter in this series. As far as plot twists go, the final chapter is something I certainly did not see coming.
A little unfocused, Captain to Captain
nonetheless does a competent job of setting up the Legacies
trilogy. While the bulk of the story is not quite as attention-grabbing as the first book in a trilogy should be, this novel does redeem itself with a cliffhanger ending that has me hooked. Limited "screen time" for Kirk and company makes this a bit of an odd one for a 50th anniversary celebration of The Original Series
, but I'm sure they will get ample attention in the follow-ups.
More about Captain to Captain:
Also by Greg Cox:
Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:
Next up, a review of the Deep Space Nine
e-book exclusive by Paula M. Block & Terry J. Erdmann: Rules of Accusation