I suddenly feel nostalgic about the last Star Trek TV spin off: Enterprise. That's surprising, since I was quite disappointed with the series when it first aired around 2001. Its first two seasons were yawn worthy, and the third season had a heavy-handed Sept 11-inspired plotline that made my eyes roll to the back of my head.
It picked up in quality significantly in the fourth season but the powers that be decided to end a stellar season with an abysmal and horrid episode called These Are the Voyages. That episode has lived on in Trek fandom infamy since then ... ah, but that's a tale for another day.
What made me nostalgic were the characters, however. The plots may be blah, but the characters were fascinating. It's frustrating that they weren't all developed thoroughly.
Malcolm Reed, most of all.
It's a crime that such a fascinating character was given such little attention. Fortunately, we have Star Trek Novels to fill the gap, and in What Price Honor?, Malcolm is the lead character.
Story: Ensign Alana Hart dies at the hands of Malcolm Reed when he tries to stop her from sabotaging the Enterprise. Riddled with guilt, he tries to find out why she did what she did ... and Enterprise ends up caught between two warring civilisations.
Thoughts: Malcolm Reed fans would love how Stern explores Reed's character and motivations. I've always found him to be one of the most intriguing characters on the Enterprise besides the fan-favourite Trip Tucker. Reed is reserved, utterly professional in everything he does - to the point of being distant from his crewmates.
His relationship with Alana Hart explores how he struggles to balance his two sides: the professional Armoury Officer and the flesh-and-blood Malcolm who desires an emotional connection. Ultimately, his decision with Alana is really poignant and touching.
The story, however, is a very conventional whodunit by Trek standards.I guessed in the first few chapters what had happened. At times, I wanted to shake the characters and say, "Hey, all the clues are there right in your face! Can't you figure it out already?"
Well, since this book takes place in the first few months of Enterprise's deployment into the great uknown - they are the first Earth vessel to explore deep space after all - I'll peg it to inexperience.
Verdict: A really good read for Malcolm Reed fans. I say - buy it! Non-Reed-fans may be frustrated with the pedestrian mystery, however.
I just wish there were more novels with Malcolm as the lead character. Sigh!