Book Review: Collect The Spies And Run

Agents of Influence is the latest Star Trek novel from Dayton Ward. This is another one from the original series. The one with Captain Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise. So, this particular story takes place in the final year of the initial five year mission. Everyone is still in the gold, red, blue shirts with the women in miniskirts. It’s great! We also get to know another starship crew under the command of Captain Atish Khatami of the USS Endeavor, and that’s not a bad thing. I believe this crew is featured in another original range of Star Trek novels created by the publishing company.

So, it is 2270, and three Federation operatives have been living as Klingons for a few years when circumstances force them to pull the plug on their operation early. They make their escape from the Klingon home planet and are scheduled to be rescued by the Endeavor. That ship survives an attack and has to hide out in an asteroid belt trying to dodge the attentions of both Klingons and Orions, who are working together. A high ranking Starfleet admiral calls upon Captain James Kirk and his stalwart crew of the Enterprise to determine the fate of their comrades and spies. The Endeavor is still out there but not in very good shape, and they also seem to have to contend with a saboteur in their midst.

Ward has been a significant contributor to the series of the past several years, and he seems to have scored quite well with this particular installment. At least, I liked it well enough. There are about three different threads of the story to follow here. Kirk, Sulu, and Uhura locate the Endeavor and lend some important aid to the crew there. Spock and the other Enterprise crewmembers have their own challenges with Klingons in the area looking to retrieve the spies that escaped. Ward also has the reader get a little perspective from the various bad guys circling the area and raising some hackles. Admiral Nogura has been featured in several novels, and it seemed somehow appropriate to have him in the action here. Nogura has been presented as one of the more enigmatic members of Starfleet’s upper echelon, and it was nice to have him portrayed as someone who does actually care for those carrying out his rather challenging orders. Ward still keeps Nogura in a certain amount of mystique despite his more tangible presence within this story.

The plot was pretty engaging for the most part. I have always found Kirk to be presented more clever in the novels than he often did in the television series, and Ward seemed to carry that intent quite effectively. Spock seems to have had a certain amount of character growth here that was not always evident in the television series. Ward still remains faithful to the character. Spock, in many ways, can be the easiest to write for, but I liked how he came across in this novel. There was kind of an interesting tension between Admiral Nogura and Doctor McCoy, but it was still coupled with the appropriate respect as well.

It’s a Star Trek novel, so don’t expect an incredible amount of literary greatness in the grand scheme of things, but that probably goes without saying. Ward does have a pretty engrossing story in this one, and many of the supporting characters were quite intriguing as well. It was a pretty fun diversion as meant to be when reading Star Trek, but it felt like there was something a little deeper as well.

So, David Lagercrantz is the writer who continued the exploits of Lisbeth Salander after her creator died suddenly and tragically several years ago. He has written his third and final entry into Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series. I am not sure if Salander will have adventures under another writer, but it’s time to see how Lagercrantz ends his involvement with The Girl Who Lived Twice.

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