Saturday, May 11, 2013

Trek Novels - To Reign in Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh

Yes, it's not Spock's World. It looks like I'll be saving that for next time. I found the book last year at Hastings and it was used. I looked at the little description of it and decided to check it out. Plus, look at the cover! It looks epic! Anyway, it was a while before I started to read it. Then, school got in the way and I didn't start to read it until this month. I'm kinda glad I did this themed month (and this segment in general) because I now have a reason to finally read it and a few other books I have.

The book came out in 2006 and was written by Greg Cox. This book is actually the third and final book in a series that detailed Khan's life. The first two books detailed his origins and the Eugenic Wars (insert random 90's joke here). So with all of that out of the way, let's see what happened to our bronze, chiseled dictator during his exile on Ceti Alpha V.

Star Trek - To Reign In Hell: The Exile of Khan Noonien Singh
Writer: Greg Cox

Captain Kirk and some of his crew travel to Ceti Alpha V to find out what happened to Khan and his followers during their exiled years. During this expedition, they find data disks and a journal that detail the exile.

The book starts out between the events of the fourth and fifth movies in the year 2287. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Sulu take the shuttle Yamika and travel to Ceti Alpha V to find out what really happened to Khan and his followers. They make it to the barren planet and our three main guys transport to the planet in life-suits. They find the same shelter Chekov and Captain Terrell found in the second movie and search it out. They discover that there are actually hidden caves that connect to the shelter, so they head down to see what they find. During their walk, they lose contact with Sulu because of the storms. The three then find a shocking discovery: a memorial to Marla McGivers Singh (?), her data disks, and Khan's journal.

As they peruse the items, we flashback to the year 2267 where the crew of Botany Bay and Marla are dropped off. The Enterprise leaves them with their supplies from their ship, The Botany Bay, and some Starfleet supplies. Khan and his people set out to make this planet their own. During these early days, Marla faces some resistance from the other superhumans because they blame for this predicament. Remember, she helped Kirk regain control of the ship back in "Space Seed." Khan has no ill feelings toward her though. He still loves the pretty redhead. Khan and his people also face a lot of obstacles in these early days. There's dissension from some followers like Ericsson, and they have to face the dangers of the land.  Their base gets attacked by some creatures that are like sabertooth tigers. Khan and his best men set out to find these creatures' home.

In the third month of their exile, Khan and his men find the creatures home in some caves and kill them off. Meanwhile, Marla is attacked by one of the superhumans and almost left for dead. It's believed that Zuleika, Marla's "greatest fan," tried to kill her. Zuleika says she didn't do it, but it's no use. Khan decides to banish her, but Marla won't allow it. In retaliation to this decision, Marla leaves with Zuleika and they head off into the unknown. The two women travel and end up getting caught in a horrible storm. Meanwhile, Khan does some more probing and finds the person who really attacked Marla. After he takes care of the guy via "Knife to the Gut," he and his men set out to find Marla and Zulecika as the storms come. Eventually, Khan and his men find the two women and head back to the camp.

Three months pass after those events. Khan ends up preceding over a crapload of marriages for one night. He then marries Marla. We also get a taste of things to come when a large, crazed, bison-like creature disrupts the ceremony. It's killed and the cause of its attack is a certain worm: the Ceti eel... Ew. A few days pass and all is going well when Ceti Alpha VI explodes. This event basically sets Ceti Alpha V's orbit off.   Volcanoes are erupting and earthquakes are happening. All the world needs is cats and dogs living together! Khan and Jocaquim, Khan's right hand man, realize that the caves are the only safe place left to go. Khan loses some people, but he is able to lead them to the caves.

We then come back to present day (2287). While Kirk and the guys try to figure out why Ceti Alpha VI blew up, they are suddenly accosted by survivors (Eh?). It turns out that these survivors are actually another faction that split off from Khan's group and see Khan as "The Tyrant." They also know of Kirk and call him "The Abandoner."Their leader, Astrid Ericsson, takes one of their phasers and destroys Marla's memorial. She and her people then take Kirk, Spock and McCoy to their camp site which is full of young people. When it is revealed that a pregnant lady is going to give birth, McCoy tells his captives that he's a doctor and that he'll help. I only hope he doesn't slap the woman... just watch "Friday's Child" for more on that. The other two are left in some dungeon to wait.

We then go back in time to 2268, a week after the disaster. Khan and his followers are still in the caves and are still suffering. Since the tremors have stopped, Khan decides to finally leave the caves. Unfortunately, there are some boulders. Khan uses the phaser to blast a way out of the cave and damages his right hand in the process. The survivors come to find out that the planet is a desolate wasteland. All of the animal life and plant life has been destroyed. What's worse is that now the Ceti eels are starting to come after them.

Over the next few years, they try to piece together their lives as the planet continues to grow more hellish. Sandstorms are everywhere and supplies are scarce. Still, they gather what they can and make the caves their home. Joachim, Khan's right hand man from WoK and Joaquim's son, is born. Also, Khan starts to be tough on his followers. It gets so bad that Ericsson and a few others start to plot against him.

Ericsson and his cabal trap Marla and force a Ceti eel down her ear. Since he knows that people with the eel are more controllable, he tells Marla to kill Khan. In their room, Marla almost does the deed, but she catches herself and kills herself. Before she dies, she tells Khan who did this to her. When Ericsson and his followers get the news, they leave the caves. Khan then swears vengeance on those followers and on Captain Kirk for abandoning them here.

About five planetary years pass after those events. Khan makes Marla's memorial and starts to wears her Starfleet medallion.  Khan's and Ericsson's forces have been at battle during those years. Khan is hanging around with Joachim when word comes from Joaquim that Ericsson's forces have taken Azar Gorge, their water resource. Khan and his superman then leave to do battle with Ericsson and his followers. The battle is bloody. Khan loses a lot his main people like Joachim's parents, Zuleika, and the planet's only doctor. The battle is won when Khan throws Ericsson in to a hot spring.

After the battle, Khan and his people take what's left of Ericsson's followers back to their camp. This includes the children they had like Astrid. Since Joachim's parents are dead, Khan decides to raise the boy as his own son. Five more planetary years pass by. Khan and his followers are out searching for resources as they spot Chekov and Terrell. Khan's part in the book ends with him realizing that he will now be able to get his revenge.

We come back to 2287 and McCoy is throw in with Kirk and Spock. He's done his medicine thing and saved the mother and child. Astrid and her guards come and threaten to "eel" the three if they don't tell him where Khan is. Kirk is able to spout a lie and say that Khan is still alive. He convinces her to draw a distraction on the surface so he can come and investigate. What this distraction actually does is warn Sulu aboard the Yamika that something's going on below. With few choice phaser shots, he saves the crew.

On the shuttlecraft, Kirk tells her the truth and convinces her to let go of her hatred for Khan and leave this planet. They actually have a place where she and her followers can live in peace. Astrid agrees to the terms. After some time, Kirk and the rest travel aboard the Yamika to the Mutara Sector where the Genesis planet used to be. There, Kirk gives Marla a eulogy and transports her ashes out into space. The book ends with Kirk hoping that Marla and Khan have both found peace.

Wow, trying to describe this novel in a few paragraphs is tough. I guess this means one has to find the book to see what else happened. So what did I think of this book? I thought that it was a good and interesting read. While we basically know what happened to Khan and his people from WoK (Wrath of Khan), this sheds a lot of light on what happened during those intervening years. The book also tries to explain some of the unexplained things that came from WoK. Examples include the Chekov thing,  the fact that Starfleet forgot about these folk, and the fact that Ceti Alpha VI blew up one day and nobody did anything.We see what Ceti Alpha V looked liked before and after the disaster. The past sequences felt like a mix of  Lord of the Flies, Lost (Well, it does!), Planet of the Apes, Robinson Crusoe, and most post-apocalyptic movies.

The characters are well done. Khan literally reads and acts like we know him to be. It's like I'm hearing Ricardo Montalban's voice when I read his stuff. We see what leads him to madness and it's pretty sad. While Khan was a villain, you really sympathize for him and his people here. We also get some looks at what Marla went through on the planet. We basically see her adapt to this new situation and grow to be eventually accepted by some of the superhumans. We also get a good glimpse of Khan's and Marla's relationship. We end up seeing the good and the bad in it.

While Kirk and the rest don't get a lot of time, it's still cool to see them here. I love that they wonder why Khan's predicament went so bad. All of the theories are mentioned. Another thing I really like about the parts in the Present Day is Kirk ruminating over his guilt about the situation. He feels like everything that happened with Khan was his fault... and it kind of is. I mean, there are other factors like Starfleet not checking on them at all. Still, most of this falls on Kirk's shoulders and I like that this gets mentioned here. I also like that Kirk gets to somewhat  redeem himself with the other survivors.

Are there any negatives to the book? Not really.  Some of the dialogue feels off. It's mostly the dialogue from the other superhumans that feels a little unnatural. Also, there were a lot of references to the show, the previous two books, and the movies here.  I like most of the references that were thrown in, but a couple fell flat to me. Other than those things, this book is pretty awesome.

Do I recommend it? Of course. If you're lacking a little Khan in your life, then definitely pick this up. It may be low on technobabble, but there is a great story here. While it ties into a trilogy and WoK, it still feels like a standalone story and explains a lot of things. It makes me want to check out the previous two books in the trilogy.  Well, I'm out. Peace, God Bless, and watch out for that little Klingon proverb. I've heard that it's about some cold dish.


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