As non-canon Trek novels go, this one proves to be very interesting. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t hate it.
Our characters, Kirk, Spock, McCoy, only serve to bookend the tale, one that has become very popular for establishing Klingon society, before it was more fully explored in The Next Generation.
There is much discussion on the Enterprise about a new book that is making the rounds with a glimpse inside the Klingon Empire, McCoy even hints that it has big space battles to keep Kirk interested.
As Kirk and I dive into the book, we’re introduced to a Klingon world more akin to something that may have developed had the Original Series remained on television. It does however seem to influence some of what came after as well, as we learn that the Klingons are driven by a sense of honour. Something we know now, and had been hinted at previously, but here Ford has imagined and developed a culture that is completely honour bound.
We see their culture, their society, and most importantly, because a society can be defined by the leisure they take, the games they play. The book centres on one, an almost live action variation of chess, with the violence of the moves committed by the players.
It’s a finely crafted tale and gives us a different look at what could have been in terms of the Klingon Empire.
You can also tell that it was written before Marc Orkand created the Klingon language, and before Klingon names became more guttural, yet for all that, it’s like peeking down an alley to see what could have been.
And I guess that’s what these Star Trek novels are. They have been firmly established as non-canon, but they give us a glimpse of what could be, or could have been in a universe that so many of us have come to cherish.
I mean this is quite literally the definition of fan fiction, authors penning tales that never happened with characters we love, expanding the universe in a way that the series and films never did, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst, and sometimes, just spinning the realm into a new direction no one saw coming.
Ford does a very nice job, creating his version of the Klingon Empire, and while I don’t think all of it would have worked in the canon universe, it’s an interesting look at what could have been.