Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Captain's Blood

Star Trek
Captain's Blood by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Published December 2003
Read February 7th 2018


Previous book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Peril

Next book (Shatnerverse): Captain's Glory


Purchase:
Hardcover: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
Mass-market paperback: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk
E-book (Kindle): Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Captain's Blood!

From the back cover:
Following the explosive events of Star Trek Nemesis, the Romulan Star Empire is in disarray, and Ambassador Spock attempts to render aid by launching a last-ditch effort to reunify the Romulans with their distant forebearers, the Vulcans. But when Spock is publicly assassinated at a Romulan peace rally, Starfleet and the Federation are unable to search for the criminals responsible without triggering an intergalactic war. 
Thus, it falls to James T. Kirk, now retired, to investigate his beloved friend's murder. Given clandestine assistance by Captain William T. Riker of the Starship Titan, and accompanied by his good friend Jean-Luc Picard, Kirk travels to Romulus as a civilian, along with his five-year-old child, Joseph, the cantankerous Doctor McCoy, retired Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, as well as several members of Picard's crew, still waiting to return to duty on the badly damaged USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E. But on Romulus' sister world, Remus, Kirk unexpectedly encounters an alluring enemy from his past as Picard and he discover Spock's apparent murder hides an even deeper mystery, reaching beyond the limits of the galaxy. 
Trapped on a deadly, alien world on the eve of a Romulan civil war that could plunge the galaxy into a civilization-ending conflict, Kirk's investigation brings him to the heart of a staggering conspiracy. As he discovers the true threat facing the Romulans, he realizes that he must sacrifice the freedom of his son, whose very blood holds the secret to his destiny. Captain's Blood brings together both generations in a battle for the existence of all life in this galaxy, and beyond.

My thoughts:

Captain's Blood is the second book in William Shatner's "Totality" trilogy, and as such, I feel like it learned a few lessons from the first book, Captain's Peril. For one thing, in both books, certain characters are under the impression that a major Star Trek character has perished. In Captain's Peril, the authors attempted to maintain that charade for a large portion of the book, much to its detriment, in my opinion. However, in Captain's Blood, the readers are made aware of the deception very early on, a tactic that I felt worked much better.

However, this assumed death brings me to my first big complaint about Captain's Blood. Spock's reasoning for faking his death in front of a crowd of 3000 Romulans is apparently because he wanted to remove himself from the public stage in a very dramatic fashion so that his message of peace and reunification between the Vulcans and Romulans would be enhanced. Does this seem at all logical? I have a hard time believing that Spock would be a willing part of this plan, let alone conceive of it himself. Deception on this scale does not seem to be Spock's style.

Spock makes what I feel to be an oddly illogical decision in Captain's Blood.

However, there is a lot more to like in this novel than in the previous one. The Totality feels like a real threat, and tying it into the events and revelations from Star Trek Nemesis worked quite well. I enjoyed the exploration of the Remans, including their origin as well as learning a bit more about their culture. I felt that Nemesis didn't really do enough to explain them, and I appreciated that we got a chance to discover more about them here. The idea of "Shinzon" being a title rather than a proper name was a nice retcon, and the role that Kirk's son, Joseph, played in the story as the new Reman Shinzon was fascinating.

Captain's Blood provides a better exploration of the Remans than Star Trek Nemesis, in my opinion.

Speaking of Kirk's son, Joseph Kirk turns out to be a particularly interesting character. Possessing a number of odd characteristics thanks to his blend of Human, Romulan, and Klingon heritage, Joseph was born intersex; in fact, his full name is Joseph Samuel T'Kol T'Lan Kirk, a name that combines masculine and feminine qualities. By his own choice, he is referred to as male by the other characters in Captain's Blood.

The threat faced by James T. Kirk and the rest of the galaxy, the Totality, is personified in the character of Norinda, the alien woman who "tested" Kirk in the flashback portion of the story from the previous novel, Captain's Peril. I find it oddly coincidental that she would be at the center of a story that Kirk just happened to tell Picard shortly before she resurfaces as the primary threat facing the Federation in this novel. However, that strange detail aside, I think the Totality works as a threat. The menace they represent is certainly worthy of the story, and they provided a great deal of tension in the novel.

The end of the novel is, expectedly, a cliffhanger as we head into the final book in the trilogy: Captain's Glory.

Final thoughts:

While Captain's Blood is plagued by many of the same issues that the rest of the "Shatnerverse" novels suffer from (an over-abundance of Kirk-worship, Picard and his crew being forever upstaged by the legendary James T. Kirk), the novel is a definite improvement over the previous story, Captain's Peril. The events of that novel seem starkly unconnected to this book and the one that follows, despite ostensibly being the first part of a trilogy. A few strange character motivations are offset by an interesting exploration of the Remans (better than in Nemesis, in my opinion), as well as an interesting threat posed by the Totality. 3/5.

Also by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens:

More about Captain's Blood:

My next read:

Next up: the conclusion to the Totality trilogy: Captain's Glory by William Shatner with Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens.