Posts Tagged With: J. G. Hertzler

The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two, by J. G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang

Sirella, I have survived countless battles, both in space and on alien worlds.  I was held prisoner by the Dominion for two years and forced to fight Jem’Hadar in order that they could learn how to kill Klingons.  And now I am facing vicious attacks from my mad son and his mad mother.  Despite all these things, nothing in the universe inspires as much dread in me as the words ‘We need to talk, my husband’.
-Martok


The Klingon Empire is now in the hands of Morjod.  But the fate of the Empire is far from settled-still free from his control is the rightful chancellor, Martok, as well as a number of select allies-Worf and his son, Alexander; Martok’s wife Sirella and his gin’tak, Darok; the clone of the ancient emperor, Kahless; the Ferengi Pharh; and a recent recruit, Ezri Dax of Deep Space Nine (one of the more sane members of this assemblage).  As one might imagine, though, the fight for the future of the Klingon Empire is coming up.  But first, everyone needs a little background-and that kicks off the second part of The Left Hand of Destiny.

The book opens with a general meeting with the protagonists-a shock, really, when one remembers that Klingons aren’t all much for meetings-especially if they are the warriors and starship captains.  But it proves to be important, as it outlines just what Gothmara has been up to, and just how Martok came to know her-and also get some explanation as to how she’s managed to bamboozle just about every Klingon she’s come across (and it’s always interesting to see that there are some lines that Klingons won’t cross as a general rule for victory), as well as the rather gruesome origins of the Hur’q.  That explanation points to a rather obvious target for a strike against Morjod and Gothmarra; and Worf has a secondary plan to add to it, which falls into his own idea that Martok is-very likely-the leader of destiny to lead the Klingons into a new age.  But no plan survives contact, and this plan hasn’t even gotten off the ground before disaster strikes.  And as Martok demonstrated in the last book, he’s perfectly willing to do some things on his own.

A minor mystery is also unveiled involving Martok’s father; Kahless has discovered in his travels that Martok’s father was given a mysterious title-a title whose origins become a bit more clear in a vision.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this mystery crops up again later on in the book.  And it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that any victory does not come without cost-and in more than one manner.  The authors certainly aren’t shying away from upping the ante on Martok at every turn.

Hertzler and Lang continue to do a wonderful job with the characters.  Ezri is still dealing with a set of mixed emotions about the Klingons-a part of her (Curzon and Jadzia) feeling obligated to help them in any way possible, and the other part (Ezri herself) feeling that the Empire has been heading in this kind of direction for some time.  Worf demonstrates a fine sense of what the Klingons need right now-moreso than almost anyone-and knows that Martok is the best man to lead the Klingons, and that he also needs a potent symbol to aid him.  Kahless…well, if I’m comparing this to the Arthurian model, he’d almost have to be Merlin to Martok’s Arthur.  Pharh remains one of the rare examples of common sense-well, rare among Klingons, anyway; he’s also another example of an atypical Ferengi.  There’s also a set of characters that I have mixed feelings about; it makes sense that this grouping might exist where they are found, but it seems so…un-Klingon like.  In some ways, though, that’s the point.

On the whole, I found the book to be a satisfying conclusion to the story begun in the last book; the Klingons may-or-may not be heading towards a new era, but it isn’t because of any lack of quality in The Left Hand of Destiny.

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The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One, by J. G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang

Afterward, if you find yourself in a position to tell anyone about me, exaggerate nothing.  Don’t make me bigger than life.
But, General, you are bigger than life.
I’m not a general.
All right, Chancellor.
Or that.
Than what are you?
Just a Klingon.  Just a man.
-Martok and Pharh


Of the various alien species that have populated the universe of Star Trek, none have evoked the same fascination with the fans as the Klingons.  In the original series, they were the enemy, wishing nothing more than to conquer the United Federation of Planets.  By the time of the Next Generation, time had made them allies; we were exposed to their culture, their sense of honor and their love of battle to prove that honor.  They briefly became enemies again during Deep Space Nine, but the rift between allies was healed when the Dominion made their bid for the Alpha Quadrant.  It was that series which introduced General Martok-a character who started out as a minor one kicking off the temporary tiff between allies, but evolved into a Klingon unlike the others in Star Trek.  Where Worf was a Klingon raised by humans in the Klingon fashion and applied Federation morality to his Klingon side, and where most of the other Klingons were all “battle, glory, and honor” (or were underhanded weasels), Martok turned out to be quite different-a Klingon who loved the same things as most, but allowed his reasoning to rule his instincts.  By the time the series ended, Martok had ended up named as Chancellor of the Klingon Empire.

Which is where The Left Hand of Destiny begins.

Martok is aboard his flagship, arriving at Qo’noS, to be officially acknowledged as Chancellor at the Great Hall by the members of the Klingon High Council.  While Martok has some reservations, he seems to be in much more improved morale…right up to the moment the Great Hall is wiped out, with all the council members in it.  A Klingon named Morjod takes credit for it-and speaking as a “freedom fighter”, declares that the Klingons have lost their way, become a servitor race to the Federation, and vows to lead the Klingons back to greatness (read:  conquerors).  He has creatures from Klingon myth at his side; and he has a handy scapegoat for all the problems of the Klingon Empire-Worf!  And, naturally, since you need to get rid of a Chancellor to become a Chancellor….!

As Martok tries to get a handle on events, on the surface, Worf’s son-Alexander-is dealing with the fallout of the attack on the Hall; unsurprisingly, he feels as if he’s got a target on his back, being the big traitor’s son and everything.  Alexander also makes the acquaintance of a rather interesting Ferengi named Pharh, who is as unique an individual as Rom and Nog from DS9.  In the meantime, Martok’s wife, Sirella, is also in dire straits, as she recognizes that her home and family are likely to come under attack as well.  What she doesn’t know, however, is that Morjod isn’t exactly alone, and a major motivation for the coming events has everything to do with her and Martok.  And there’s a mysterious Klingon wandering around the edges, who isn’t happy about this turn of events one little bit.

For the most part, I’ve been impressed with books with former Trek actors as at least co-writers.  A Stitch in Time was a great book, and I had liked the early Shatner books (before they started looking the same).  This one is no exception, written in part by the actor who had played Martok.  It also helps that Lang had previously impressed the hell outta me with Immortal Coil.  As a team, Hertzler and Lang have put together a fine start to this two-part story.  I could draw some comparisons with some older, more famous stories-parts of the book had a King Arthur kind of feel to it (and not the action sequences); others put me in mind of Robin Hood (especially the last action sequence!).  I also loved a couple minor homages to one of the best (if not the best) Klingon books written (before Next Generation came along and revamped everything; kai the authors!).

New characters in the book stand out as well, both major and minor.  Pharh, as I’ve already mentioned, is a unique Ferengi-he actually wants to see the universe and keep as much of space between himself and his family as possible.  He also manages to rub shoulders with just about every major player in the story (at least the ones on the side of the angels).  Morjod starts out looking like a fairly charismatic Klingon (perhaps more than he should be), but later sections show that there is more to his story than is apparent to the Klingons in the Empire.  And then there’s Darok, gin’tak of the House of Martok; he’s a fairly minor character so far, but I absolutely loved his opinions about his mother, and just what her position in Sto-Vo-Kor (the Klingon afterlife) must be.

I can’t wrap the review of Book One without mentioning the main character-and that’s Martok.  Martok was more or less pushed into taking the title of Chancellor, and he’s still uncertain as to whether or not it really suits him.  It’s something that weighs on him as he infiltrates the Emperor’s Palace, and prompts him to make a telling set of statements at the end of Book One (which I won’t go into, because I think it has a much greater impact when read for the first time).  The book closes at a turning point for Martok, and I am eagerly looking forward to see just where the story goes from here in Book Two.

And to think:  when the books were first announced, I was saying “oh, no, not another Klingon book”.  Thanks for proving me wrong, guys.

Categories: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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