Star Trek: Shadow Lord (1985) – Laurence Yep

I dove into another non-canon Star Trek adventure from Pocket Books, and this one, I have to say, is a swing and a miss. It’s almost like it wants to be a bit of a fantasy tale in the vein of Dumas’ Musketeers, but it is actually just a big misstep, which doesn’t really fit into the realm of Trek.

Set during the original series, the story follows Prince Vikram who is returning to his home planet of Angira, after some time studying on Earth. While the rest of the Enterprise and her crew continue onwards on a medical mission, Spock and Sulu are the sole members assigned to the landing party to see Vikram home.

Now while it’s nice that Spock and Sulu are potentially given a moment to shine, the story doesn’t allow it. The planet Vikram comes from still seems to be at a level of 18th cengury development, and feel that swords are the best way to solve any problems. 

This led me to my first problem with the story. How and why would Starfleet make first contact with a species that hadn’t even achieved space flight? That is interfering with the planet’s natural development, and a violation of the Prime Directive. Something that comes up again during subsequent parts of the story.

Arriving on Angira, our characters are given the briefest of moments before before Vikram’s entire family is slaughtered in a coup by an old rival. This makes Vikram the de facto ruler of the planet if he can best his enemies, but that is a role he doesn’t want.

So while Spock and Sulu accompany him, Vikram races to elude his pursuers and grows into a man who believes he can rule after all. 

Sulu gets to practice his swordmanship, and Spock is so out of place in the story, he is injured and removed from a large part of the narrative.

What we are given, in effect, is nothing more than a basic quest story, with a couple of Star Trek characters as supporting characters.

The more Sulu aids Vikram as the story goes on, the more Trek lovers realise that friend or not, Sulu aiding Vikram in a planetary civil war is a huge violation of the Prime Directive. And while Spock may quote the IDIC, Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combination, you have to wonder what the Federation is really getting out of their arrangment with Angira.

Oh well. They can’t all be winners, right?

The Human Adventure continues…

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