Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hell's Heart

Star Trek: Prey
Book 1 of 3
Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller
Release date: September 27th 2016
Read October 14th 2016

Previous book (The Next Generation): Armageddon's Arrow

Next book (Prey): Book 2: The Jackal's Trick

Mass-market paperback: | |
E-book (Kindle): | |

Spoilers ahead for Hell's Heart!

Publisher's description:
Continuing the milestone 50th anniversary celebration of Star Trek—an epic new trilogy that stretches from the events of The Original Series movie The Search for Spock to The Next Generation!

When Klingon commander Kruge died in combat against James T. Kirk on the Genesis planet back in 2285, he left behind a powerful house in disarray—and a series of ticking time bombs: the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of advanced Birds-of-Prey; a cabal of loyal officers intent on securing his heritage; and young Korgh, his thwarted would-be heir, willing to wait a Klingon lifetime to enact his vengeance.

Now, one hundred years later, while on a diplomatic mission for the United Federation of Planets, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise are snared in the aged Korgh’s trap—and thrust directly in the middle of an ancient conflict. But as Commander Worf soon learns, Korgh may be after far bigger game than anyone imagines, confronting the Federation-Klingon alliance with a crisis unlike any it has ever seen!

My thoughts:

The Star Trek universe has an extremely rich history, featuring heroes of villains of many different stripes. One of the strengths of the Trek novelverse is its ability to draw upon the multitude of previous adventures, pulling on a thread here and there and teasing out a compelling story about a character or situation that was previous only given a limited amount of screen time. One such villain is Commander Kruge, the main baddie from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. However, I suppose it makes sense that we never got more about this character. After all, he was killed by Admiral Kirk at the climax of that film. Or was he...?

The legacy of Klingon Commander Kruge plays a big role in the Prey trilogy.

While Kruge was apparently killed on the Genesis Planet, his legacy has endured well into the 24th century. Leaving behind a house initially in disarray, the nobles of the House of Kruge have banded together to rule the house as a group. However, a young Klingon named Korgh, who fancied himself Kruge's true heir, began a century-long plot to lead the wealthy House of Kruge. Now, as the Empire prepares to enter into negotiations with the Federation and a number of other powers for the establishment of a free-flight corridor through Klingon space, Korgh begins to enact his plot.

The story itself is divided into three acts. The first act introduces the main players in the 24th century: the nobles of the House of Kruge, as well as the caretaker for the house: an elderly Klingon by the name of Galdor. Act two involves a flashback to the 23rd century, following the events of The Search for Spock. This part of the story features the Enterprise-A under Captain Kirk and their encounter with a group of dishonored Klingons, fallout from the death of Kruge. They are allowed to take refuge in a nebula called Klach D'kel Brakt, or as the Federation calls it, the Briar Patch.

The Unsung operate from a planet located within the Briar Patch, seen in Star Trek: Insurrection.

In act three, these dishonored Klingons enact the plan, having come under the control of Korgh. Calling themselves the "Unsung," they use a fleet of birds-of-prey called the "Phantom Wing" to carry out attacks on behalf of Korgh. Most of their action is seen through the eyes of Valandris, one of the Unsung who turns out to be a truly fascinating character. While her life as a dishonored Klingon is the only one she has known, it seems as though there may be cracks in her conviction to follow the cause of the Unsung.

Like his previous stories in the Trek universe, Miller has created some truly interesting characters. They all feel real, with a depth that is sometimes lacking in one-off secondary characters. The machinations of Korgh are a definite highlight, and I found myself unable to guess what would happen next. The story is anything but predictable. While Korgh's plan may seem fairly simple, it is clear that there are wheels within wheels, and we are in for quite the ride throughout the rest of this trilogy.

Given the long life of the Klingons involved and the length of time this plan has been in motion, the Prey trilogy serves as an excellent celebration of Star Trek's 50th anniversary, with a story that spans a century and includes both the original and Next Generation crews. Not to mention the fact that the Klingons are a fan-favorite, and this story dives deep into Klingon lore. Fans of everyone's favorite lumpy-headed honor-bound warriors will find a lot to love in this story!

Final thoughts:

An exciting kick-off to what is sure to be a great trilogy in the Trek novelverse! If you found yourself somewhat underwhelmed by the Legacies trilogy, be sure to pick this one up. This is definitely shaping up to be an exciting trilogy, and a fun way to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Not everything is as it seems with regards to the characters in this story, and if the rest of the trilogy is anything like this first book, we are in for a lot of exciting twists and turns in our quest for the conclusion of Prey.
4/5 stars.

More about Hell's Heart:

Also by John Jackson Miller:

Next time on Trek Lit Reviews:

The Prey trilogy continues in Book 2: The Jackal's Trick by John Jackson Miller!

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