Sunday, December 16, 2012

Killing Blow

Star Trek: Errand of Vengeance Book Two: Killing Blow by Kevin Ryan
Published August 2002
Read August 10th 2012


Previous book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance #1: The Edge of the Sword
Next book (The Original Series): Errand of Vengeance #3: River of Blood


Click to purchase Killing Blow from Amazon.com!


Spoilers ahead for Killing Blow and the rest of the Errand of Vengeance series!

From the back cover:
There are more than four hundred sagas aboard the Starship Enterprise, one for each of the unique men and women serving under the command of Capt. James T. Kirk.  For years their personal adventures, their individual struggles and successes, have gone largely untold... until now.

The U.S.S.
Enterprise is patrolling the Klingon border when sensors detect a massive power source on a planet supposedly populated only by a race of primitive humanoids.  Suspecting some sort of Klingon plot, Captain Kirk decides to investigate the matter personally, beaming down to the planet with Dr. McCoy and a team of security officers.


But Kirk is in more danger than he knows.  Among the landing party is Lt. Jon Anderson, a Klingon infiltrator on an undercover mission aboard the
Enterprise.  Anderson does not know if the Empire is at work on the unnamed planet, but if it is, then his duty demands that Kirk be stopped--by all means necessary.

My thoughts:

A continuation of the story begun in the previous novel, The Edge of the Sword. Kell, an undercover Klingon intelligence officer posing as a Starfleet security officer aboard the Enterprise, is assigned the task of killing Captain James T. Kirk. However, as Kell witnesses first-hand the bravery and honor displayed by the crew of the Enterprise, he begins to doubt more and more the veracity of the propaganda about "Earthers" he has learned his entire life.

Following Kell on his journey was truly fascinating, as he is continually torn between his new-found respect for the humans of the Federation and his drive to fulfill his duty for the Empire. The conflict within him is very well-written by Kevin Ryan, and I found myself often empathizing with Kell. Added to his admiration of Kirk and his crew is the fact that he is beginning to fall in love with another member of the security contingent, Lieutenant Leslie Parrish. As you can imagine, this complicates Kell's mission further.

Stories from the "second string"
characters, such as Lt. West, are
continued in Killing Blow.
In addition to Kell's story, the other stories begun in The Edge of the Sword are continued to good effect. Kell's brother, Karel, gets caught up in a plot by an honorless Klingon and his bid to gain the captaincy of the Klingon cruiser D'k Tagh. Back at Starfleet Command, Lieutenant West's knowledge of the Klingons continues to come in handy as he works with Admiral Justman and Ambassador Fox to avert the coming war with the Klingon Empire. Finally, I really enjoyed Justman's remembrances of the Donatu V conflict with the Klingons. This aspect of the story gave another layer to the Admiral's character, as well as outlining the stakes of failure in maintaining peace with the Empire.

One aspect of this novel that was somewhat vexing, however, was the appearance of a few errors in the text. On a few occasions, characters are referred to by the incorrect name. In other cases, some words are incorrect, and in place words that are spelled similarly are used. I am uncertain if this issue is only with the ebook version that I read, or if these errors crop up in the dead-tree edition as well.


Final thoughts:

A generally good continuation of the Errand of Vengeance story. The flashbacks to the decades-earlier battle of Donatu V are particularly welcome, as they illustrate the dangers of losing the peace. Kell's struggle is compelling, and while we know that Kirk will not be killed, the conclusion to Kell's personal journey is a mystery that makes me very eager for the final book in the trilogy. Also somewhat fun are the homages and "shout outs" to Trek production personnel. "Lt. Okuda" comes to mind!

Also by Kevin Ryan:

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Requiem with Michael Jan Friedman (1994)

Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book One: The Edge of the Sword (2002)
Star Trek: The Original Series: Errand of Vengeance Book Three: River of Blood (2002)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book One: Seeds of Rage (2005)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Two: Demands of Honor (2007)
Star Trek: Errand of Fury Book Three: Sacrifices of War (2009)


My next read:

Next up is the final book in the Errand of Vengeance series, River of Blood.