Star Trek: Web of the Romulans (1983) – M.S. Murdock

 

It’s back to boldly going with this week’s book shelf, as I venture into the Web of the Romulans, a 1983 novel, which is surprisingly solid, but for one little annoying sub-plot.

Set during the original series, and taking place between the episodes, Tomorrow is Yesterday, and Space Seed, Murdock creates a bit of a cold war thriller, that gives us a brief look into the Romulan Empire, and while it is changed by what we now know from canon, there is a lot about it that works.

A Romulan commander, S’Talon is assigned an almost suicidal job by the Praetor, and finds himself going up against the only Starfleet captain that has proven worthy of the Romulan Empire, Captain James T. Kirk.

Kirk and company find themselves in a game of cat and mouse with the Romulan commander, and initially, have no idea that something bigger is going on. A terrible plague is sweeping the Empire, and countless Romulans have already fallen to it. There is a source for a cure, the planet Canara, part of the Federation.

While S’Talon distracts Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, the Romulan fleet moves to the edge of the Neutral Zone and gets ready to take the resources from Canara, by force if need be.

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It’s up to Kirk and company to broker a peace, but it won’t be easy, the ship’s computer (this is the silly plot line) is being troublesome, as it’s been programmed to be a little more personal and emotive…. and has fallen in love with Captain Kirk. There is also a threat within the Federation as well as a Rear Admiral, Iota, who has spent his life studying every thing about the Romulan Empire he can, believes that war is imminent, and he’ll do anything to defend the Federation, including firing the first shots of what could be an intergalactic war.

Excluding the computer stuff, this one is a solid book, engaging, moving the action to include other characters outside of those on the Enterprise, and pushing both sides, believably to the precipice of war.

The books, the further I get into them, are getting decidedly better. There are a number of references to previous episodes, which is very cool. It ties the store in solidly into the series, though, of course, it isn’t canon.

Murdock has a fairly good handle on the characters, and gives each of them their due, though this one is very much a Kirk story. It’s crafted very well, and is very engaging, reading like a cold war thriller. I like how Murdock crafts her tale, and happily, the computer problems are mostly taken care of about halfway through, only returning for a momentary coda at the end of the novel.

This is the first one, I’ve truly enjoyed.

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