Monday, September 13, 2010

Review: Sarek by A.C. Crispin

This review may contain spoilers.

Sarek is A.C. Crispin’s fourth Star Trek novel.  It was originally published as a hardcover edition by Pocket Books in 1994 and featured beautiful cover art by Keith Birdsong.  It has since been re-printed in various mass market editions and also in the 2004 “Signature Edition” omnibus, Sand and Stars.
The story takes place in 2293 about a month after the events of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and is a nice coda to the original series of films.  It ties in characters from ST III, ST V and VI in a believable manner and brings a nice sense of unity to those stories.  As the title suggests, the novel focuses on Sarek who is one of my favourite Star Trek characters.  Mark Lenard did a brilliant job of bringing the character to life and of keeping him consistent.

Spock's mother, Amanda Grayson is dying and Crispin does a great job of giving us a sense of Sarek's emotional state without compromising his Vulcan control.  The plot forces Sarek to leave his wife's deathbed to meditate an important dispute light years away.  He is clearly tormented by this but his duty to save many lives must outweigh his need to be with Amanda.  Though Amanda understands this, Spock is incredibly angry at his father.  He is left to hear Amanda cry for Sarek as she slips away.  I like what Crispin does to develop and explain the rift between Sarek and his son.  

While away from Vulcan, Sarek begins to uncover a 70 year-old Romulan plot to destroy the Federation.  The conspiracy has links to General Chang and Valeris.  It is suggested that Ambassador Nanclus may have masterminded the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon.  Sarek discovers that a secretive race called the Freelans is actually made up of disguised Romulans who have infiltrated the Federation and are funding a group called KEHL (Keep Earth Human League) on Earth.
Meanwhile, also on Earth, Peter Kirk, nephew of James T. Kirk, prepares to take the Kobyashi Maru test and graduate from Starfleet Academy.  He is kidnapped by the KEHL but finds himself imprisoned by the Klingon Ambassador, thus revealing that the Romulan plot also has influence in the Klingon Empire.  While imprisoned, Peter falls in love with the ambassador's niece, Valdyr.  Their love suggests a beginning to positive Human-Klingon relations.

All of these events come to be intertwined and resolved successfully though a satisfying series of events that gives all the characters a chance to shine but is also believable.  The novel is peppered with journal entries by Amanda Grayson as Sarek reads them to learn more about his beloved wife.  They give us a great deal of insight into Amanda and into her complicated relationship with Sarek.  Crispin establishes a strong backstory for these important characters and also looks to the future, sowing the seeds of Spock's relationship with Pardek and his goal of Romulan reunification.  For whatever reason, Crispin seems to have more latitude than most Star Trek authors.  Where most Trek novels insist on making no lasting changes to the universe, Crispin is able to deal with the deaths of two important characters.  The gravity of the events lends a credibility to the story.

Though Crispin has written two short Star Trek stories since this novel was published she has not written another Star Trek novel.  I really wish she would because in Sarek, she has crafted one of the best Star Trek novels I've read.  I would love to see more!  I give this novel five Vulcan diplomats out of five.

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