Pocket Books, out now
A few years after the Khitomer Accords, Starfleet needs help from one of their disgraced former members – Valeris…
There have been numerous books over the years about Spock’s first protégée about the Enterprise, Saavik, but not so much about her replacement in the sixth Star Trek motion picture, Valeris. Jim Swallow picks up the challenge of trying to explain the contradictions within the character – as well as deal with some of the criticisms aimed at the Nicholas Meyer movie, notably the “mind-rape” scene where Spock forces information about the conspiracy from Valeris’ mind.
If you pick this up anticipating a large amount of presence from Captain Spock, as might be indicated from the cover, you might be a little disappointed – Spock is an important presence throughout, both physically on occasion, but more usually in the effect that he has had on Valeris’ life, but it is her relationships with a Klingon major, and a brash young Starfleet officer, Lt. (j.g.) Elias Vaughn which are at the heart of this novel. Vaughn – an original creation of the books line – makes one of his earliest chronological appearances here, and while he is clearly less mature, there are signs of the tenacity and attitude which will lead him to great heights within Starfleet Intelligence.
He is contrasted with the Vulcan Valeris, whose unreasoning hatred of the Klingons is spawned by an incident in her youth, and Klingon Major Kaj, who has much the same attitude towards others in the universe – notably Valeris. The three have to work together to deal with a group whose dreams of freedom and independence from the Klingons threaten galactic peace.
There are appearances by Captain Sulu and the crew of the Excelsior, and flashbacks to Valeris’ time aboard the Enterprise – and Swallow presents us with a situation where Valeris herself faces some of the choices that both Jim Kirk and Spock dealt with during the events of The Undiscovered Country. It would be facile to say that Cast No Shadow is about redemption: it is more about facing up to what has been done, and doing things differently when given the opportunity.
Verdict: A strong sequel to The Undiscovered Country which deals with many of that movie’s themes in a more considered way. 8/10