© 2019 Christopher L Bennett
Captain Jim Kirk has just taken command of the USS Enterprise, and already he has a tricky situation on his hands. It should be simple: pick up a team of archaeologists who were investigating a site prior to an extensive terraforming project removing any possibility of exploring the ruins of a destroyed civilization. Three comets are within range of the system, and with a little manipulation they can serve to start making the planet habitable again. The lead archaeologist is a former Starfleet officer, one who served as Kirk’s science officer on his first command, but her intransigence is complicating a delicate timeline. To achieve a solution that satisfies both parties, Kirk must draw on his past experiences and accumulated wisdom, balancing passion and prudence. Bennett incorporates Kirk’s entire command experience into the story, jumping from past to present in succeeding chapters to explore the bond Kirk has with his crew, and the effect they and his previous challenges have had in molding his character. Bennett provides his customary winning mix of solid characterization, Trek adventure, and scientific plausibility.
Captain’s Oath welds together two episodes of Kirk’s earlier history as a captain, fusing them with his unexpected dilemma on the Enterprise’s first voyage under his command. As the interlaced stories develop, so to does the familiar character of Kirk: the reader witnesses him becoming the man we know from the original series. The original show had a perfect trio in Kirk, McCoy, and Spock, as the captain balanced the emotional and dispassionate forces of his two best friends and ablest advisors, but young Kirk had to strike different balances — and was, in fact, the serious, focused one among his early bridge crews! The trials that Kirk endures in his first two commands, which Bennett explores here, do not have perfect resolutions; fate always seems to extract its pound of flesh. They sharpen and season young Kirk, though, giving him better judgment, more confidence in his instincts, more willingness to act beyond the rules and regulations and fulfill the spirit of Starfleet’s orders if not their letter. Kirk’s personableness remains an important part of his character and the book, as his bonds those he’s served with — even those who have left the service — push him to be the best he can be, to never fail in the face of obstacles or frustrations.
Definitely a good one for TOS & Kirk fans, and especially for those interested in the Kirk-Mitchell friendship. Michael Jan Friedman did a trilogy based on Kirk & Mitchell called My Brother’s Keeper.
I’m a HUGE fan of ST:OS but have never read any of the novels. I hesitate to start this late to the party though! I am, however, always tempted to do so every time I read one of your reviews! [lol]
A novel like this would be a nice place to start — no backstory to know beyond the original series!
This sounds great, but I too am tethered to the TV and Cinema versions of Star Trek. But how do you pick and choose among the various Trek novel writers?
I read a LOT of Trek books in high school because it was my only ready access to the series — I could only watch the shows ocasionally — and remembered authors whose style I especially liked. Greg Cox, Michael Jan Friedman, and the Reeves-Stephens come to mind. This continued with the Relaunch generation of books, and a different breed of authors. Some of them, like David Mack and Christopher Bennett, are absolutely stellar, and I’ve read their non-Trek fiction as well. Outside authors I know to be excellent, I experiment based on how interesting the plot sounds, or if it’s on sale. These days almost ALL of my Treklit reading comes from $0.99 sales. Usually a half-score different titles will go on sale every month, and I’ll poke through them looking for interesting ones.
A year or so ago I talked about some of my Treklit favorites — David Mack comes up a LOT.