Star Trek: The Lost Years, by J. M. Dillard ISBN 0671682938
Four out of five stars
This novel begins at the point where the Enterprise reaches the end of its five-year mission chronicled in the episodes of the original series. Kirk is faced with the loss of command of a star ship and being “promoted” to admiral where he is away from the action. Spock is returning to Vulcan to consider his becoming a postulant in the mental discipline of Kolinahr and McCoy’s plan is to return to Yonada and be reunited with his lost love Natira.
In general these plans fail, Kirk is completely opposed to losing command of a starship and McCoy discovers that Natira has done her duty and is married to another on Yonada. Kirk is mollified by being appointed a special Federation troubleshooter, ready to be sent to the grimmest of crises with a fellow female admiral named Ciana.
Of course, trouble rises quickly when Ambassador Sarek is kidnapped by one faction in an internal battle on a planet that is threatening to erupt into full-scale civil war. Kirk and Ciana are sent on a moment’s notice to try to resolve the complex issues and keep exterior elements from exploiting the situation.
Spock and McCoy coincidentally are on Vulcan when the crisis erupts and the katra of an ancient Vulcan with powerful mental abilities is deliberately transferred to another Vulcan. This entity is capable of killing and transmuting matter with a basic thought. This is a great power sought by others and through an accidental confluence, Kirk, Spock, Uhura and McCoy all end up pursuing different threads of the same operation.
The story starts very slow, a necessity for it is not only necessary to wrap up the original series, but the context is being set for this novel as well as what takes place in the film, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture.” That is a great deal to ask of one book and Dillard generally pulls it off. The final dramatic showdown between the forces of good and evil lacks some of the intensity found in other “Star Trek” books and the roles that the main Star Trek characters play in that battle are atypical.