A Book by David Mack
In my review for the first book in this massive three-part Star Trek 50th anniversary trilogy, Captain to Captain, I stated that I had not really read a Star Trek book in a long time and that I was completely out of touch with how they were written and their canon status within the franchise. Unlike a lot of these tie in novels that I read, such as Doctor Who or Star Wars, everything here was very cohesive and felt every bit in line with the parent property that one would expect. I’m sure there are awful books in this franchise as well but the quality of these is astounding. Captain to Captain was, in fact, one of the best science fiction novels I have read all year and I absolutely adored the fact that it took characters and settings that are normally not fleshed out too much in Star trek material and ran with it. Being a fan of the new show Strange New Worlds means that I have been somewhat eager to learn more about some of the characters that pop up in the show such as Captain Pike and even Una (Number One), so having an entire storyline built around that character was awesome.
Best Defense picks up right after the end of the previous book – Captain Una has bucked command to attempt a heroic rescue mission for members of her crew that were lost, presumed dead, almost twenty years prior. The destination for her mission is smack in the middle of disputed Klingon territory, and as such any incursions into that space are a diplomatic disaster waiting to happen. So, why is that planet in Klingon territory so important? Every Enterprise Captain has kept a doomsday weapon secret since the command of Robert April, and said weapon is also a key to an entirely separate dimension where Una assumes her crew is being held. It’s as easy as going in there and waiting for Kirk to bring her back! Everything MIGHT have been okay if The Enterprise didn’t have a Tal Shiar spy on board that has ruined everything!
“A debt of honor: One brave woman ventures alone into a parallel universe to save her old shipmates, exiled there decades earlier by a mysterious device called the Transfer Key. She soon learns the alternate universe harbors not just an alien invasion force, but a secret that underpins its very existence.
A mission of peace: A long-awaited Klingon-Federation peace conference convenes, led by Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan and Councillor Gorkon of Qo’noS. But both sides have enemies who would prefer the two great powers remain at war—and who will do anything to make certain hate wins the day.
An errand of justice: Captain Kirk and his crew seek the stolen Transfer Key that opens a door between universes, but their hunt is cut short by Ambassador Sarek’s plea for help. The Enterprise crew soon becomes targets in a deadly crossfire—one whose outcome will decide the fate of two universes.”
While we had glimpses of the original TV Star Trek Crew, including Spock, Bones and Captain Kirk in Captain to Captain, but they were definitely the B storyline of the plot with Una’s adventure at the forefront. This time everything has flipped around and the majority of the plot centers around the original crew coming face to face with a Romulan threat that has the potential to put the entire Federation at grave risk. While I was kind of disappointed that the book shifted so much towards the classic Star Trek crew, I assume the intention for this was to do kind of a half and half thing where the two groups kind of flipped prominence from book one to book two, with book three likely being the convergence point where everything kind of comes together. If this is the plan, this trilogy has a very cool concept.
The way the author writes the classic characters, especially the character Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy was definitely in line with what one would expect from the franchise. Not one moment of the interactions between any of the crew members felt off character in any way and in fact I could hear the characters voices in my head while I was reading it. I mentioned Bones specifically because he largely sits at the forefront of the plot involving The Enterprise Crew due to his finding out that a peace summit between the Klingons and Federation just happens to be the same place that his long estranged daughter is training to be a doctor in. What follows has aspects of a murder mystery plot, a hostage crime thriller, and a diplomatic showcase. With all this and the continuing rescue mission from Una, this book has a lot going on, but it never feels messy or clunky despite the different plot points.
Overall, I somewhat liked Captain to Captain more than Best Defense, but this is an absolutely solid book based on the adventures of the original Star Trek crew. The books wraps up some loose ends and moves the plot towards what should be an absolutely amazing third part, and hopefully a bit of lasting peace for the various powers involved in this. David Mack is an excellent writer, and I plan to seek out more of his Star Trek books in the future.