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Friday, July 8, 2016

Trek Novels - Star Trek - The Captain's Table Book One: War Dragons

Well, it’s another day and another Star Trek novel. This one is a little special though. Today’s post is the start at a look at an anthology series that was released throughout 1998 called “The Captain’s Table.” The basic premise is that there is a special bar called The Captain’s Table and captains of all sorts come and relax for a bit. Six books looked at  the different captains  at that time. There are even a couple of surprises in there if you don’t know who I’m talking about. Obviously, there isn’t one for Enterprise (this early series anyway), so just look to my The Good That Men Do review for that goodness. I’m going to try to look each book during the next few months.

Today’s book is called War Dragons and features Captain James T. Kirk and surprisingly, Captain Hikaru Sulu. The writers are Julia Ecklar and Karen Rose Cercone. They did the book under the pseudonym of L.A Graf. The two, as well as a third writer, came together to write different Trek books. Now, the book actually has two timelines for a bit.  The first is right after the TOS episode, “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” while the other timeline takes place between the fifth and sixth movie.

Star Trek: The Captain’s Table – War Dragons
Author(s): L.A.Graf

BRIEF BLURB: Captains Kirk and Sulu visit a bar at the Utopia Planitia colony on Mars. There, they tell the patrons about their dealings with the Nykkus and Anjiri, a race of space pirates.

SYNOPSIS
The book starts out with Kirk meeting Sulu on Mars. He decides to take Sulu to this lesser-known bar called the Captain’s Table. At the bar, they run into all sorts of captains from other ships. The other captains ask the two Starfleet guys if they have any stories to tell especially about space pirates. Captain Kirk tells the patrons about his first encounter with the Nykkus and Anjiri, a group of lizard-like people, about 20 years ago.  Sulu also ends up chiming in on the race but his part takes place a few weeks ago.

Kirk’s old story takes place after the death of Lt. Gary Mitchell. At this point, he’s getting used to having Spock as his first officer. The Enterprise finds a damaged vessel in space that houses the Anjiri and Nykkus. The universal translator doesn’t recognize their pattern, so Lt. Uhura is assigned to work with it and try to get what the race is saying. The Enterprise ends up dropping off the race with Orions but are then told that the Nykkus and Anjiri ended up stealing one of the Orions’ ships.

The Enterprise tracks the ship to a planetoid. Unfortunately, the Enterpise gets trapped in some sort of tractor beam. The race contacts them and tells Kirk to meet them on the planetoid. Kirk takes Uhura and a couple of others in a shuttle to the planetoid. At the meeting place, Kirk basically tells them that their stealing could get them into trouble especially if they steal from the wrong race. The Nykkus and Anjiri agree that they need to scavenge for parts elsewhere. Ultimately, the problem gets settled and the crew heads back to the Enterprise.

When Kirk ends his part, he adds more to Sulu’s story which took place a few weeks ago. The Excelsior   was on a mission on receive some FL-70 Falcons, small reconnaissance ships, at Deep  Space Three. Suddenly, the station is attacked by space pirates. They end taking some of the crew hostage including Commander Chekov who was the Excelsior’s first officer. Sulu ultimately finds out through Tuvok (he was a cadet at the time) that the pirates were there to steal the FL-70s and use them against a Federation outpost. The Excelsior then chases after them.

Sometime later, the Excelsior find out that the pirates went into the Neutral Zone. They find a downed Klingon ship and all of its crew has been killed. They do find one of the pirates and Dr. Klass of the Excelsior studies it. It’s revealed that the pirate is a male Nykkus. Later, they find the Nykkus’ ships but it all turns out to be a trap. The FL-70s are taken and the Excelsior is left badly damaged. They were only able to save some of the hostages. Chekov is still a hostage.

Sulu lets Starfleet know what happened and the Enterprise is sent in to help with the situation. The two crews get together and realize that the Nykkus have gone through some changes. In order to find out what has made the race get this dangerous, Sulu, Uhura and a few others take a shuttle to the race’s planetoid. The Enterprise is left to find the Nykkus and stop them from doing more harm. They eventually find Chekov in one of the FL-70s. He tells Kirk and Spock that the Nykkus are now planning on attacking a Klingon outpost since they believe that the Klingons have technology that can increase their army.

Meanwhile, Sulu and his small crew reach the planetoid of the Anjiri and Nykkus. It’s been ravaged by a battle. They find the remaining female Nykkus and it is revealed that the male Nykkus have rebelled and are taking to the stars in force. The last of the Anjiri, the Egg Bringer, tells some of her people to go back with the crew and stop the male Nykkus from doing more harm.

Back with the Enterprise, they find the Nykkus attacking Kreth, a Klingon science outpost. Since the Nykkus are in Starfleet ships, it looks like the Federation’s starting a war the Empire. During the skirmish, the Enterprise and outpost is badly damaged. The Nykkus land their ships and head inside. Kirk and Chekov head over to see if there are any survivors. They do find some survivors and they come up with a plan to lower the station’s shields. It takes a minute, but they succeed in lowering the shields.

After they get the survivors out of there, a Klingon cruiser (led by Koloth) tries to take the Nykkus so they can be tried. Sulu and his crew eventually show up and the female Nykkus deal with the leaders of males of their race in a harsh way. Let’s just say it got a little bloody. Things do eventually calm down between the two sexes. Koloth lets Starfleet take custody of the male Nykkus. In the end, all is right and Chekov ends up going back to the Enterprise to get his bearings back after these events.

In Present Day, Kirk and Sulu leave the bar and find Chekov. The three men then head off to do their own thing. We then switch bases and follow Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the 24th century. He’s with a fellow captain who takes him to the Captain’s Table. Picard loses track of his friend but ends up with enough on his hands. After he beats another captain in a sword duel, he joins another group of captains and starts to tell them a story. The book ultimately ends with some words about Kirk and Sulu.

OPINION
While it has some issues, I did enjoy this book. I thought that this was a cool way to have a crossover between these two captains. I’ve really only experienced Sulu as captain through the Star Trek VI and that one Voyager episode (“Flashback”). By the way, it was nice to see a young Tuvok here. The early story with Kirk’s first encounter was pretty cool too. It showed him getting used to some changes around the ship. It also felt like a nice bridge between “Where No Man Has Gone Before” and “The Man Trap.”

The stories themselves were told in first person view and that was okay. I did think that Kirk’s and Sulu’s words felt in character. The stories were also jam-packed with some good stuff. The action was nice too. We got some returning characters like Janice Rand and Koloth. I also thought the framing sequences involving the bar were okay. An actual Gorn showed up and that part was actually funny.

The Anjiri and Nykkus were okay aliens of the week. They kind of reminded me of the Gorn since they're basically lizard people. The issue with their language was something I liked reading about. It gave Uhura something cool to do and was rare that the TOS crew would run into that. That being said, the race’s “Yoda speak” got grating after a while. In fact, it was worst than Yoda’s because it never really got better over the story. it stayed in that weird, stilted speech pattern.

While I liked the book, there were some things I didn’t like. First, the book took a long while for it to get going. The beginning was especially weird because Kirk had his TOS story while Sulu had his current day story. It got a little confusing in the beginning. When Kirk got included in Sulu’s story, things started to gel better. I also thought it was weird that Chekov was once again the whipping boy. The guy can’t seem to get a break at times. I did like how he had an extended role in the story though. Lastly, some of the writing could be a little dull.

Overall, this was a decent start to this anthology miniseries. It gave us some Kirk goodness and threw in some Sulu goodness too. One more thing: what’s up with that cover? That barely looks like George Takei! Also, I can see a little bit of William Shatner but not a lot. At least the other covers to the books look like the actual people. Well, I’m outta here. I need to get back to doing nothing before I head back to work next week. Peace, God Bless, and be careful out there.

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