This week I decided to review Star Trek: Prey: Hell's Heart by John Jackson Miller.
The story takes place in two periods of time, shifting between them throughout the story. The first is in the aftermath of the movie The Search for Spock. The death of Klingon commander Kruge has left his house, known for the skill of its engineers and shipwrights, in chaos as potential heirs fight over the position of house leader. Kruge's allies among the Klingon military have moved to secure the house's strategic assets against other houses and outsiders seeking to take advantage of the chaos.
But this has led to the feuding nobles uniting their forces against Kruge's allies while claiming they seek to usurp the leadership of the house. Korgh, Kruge's protege, was entrusted with command of a hidden base on the planet Gamaral which was constructing the Phantom Wing, a secret squadron of highly advanced Birds of Prey. He leads Kruge's allies there with the nobles in hot pursuit, but when he arrives the base is empty and Kruge's allies are defeated by mercenaries hired by the nobles. Most of Kruge's surviving allies are discommendated en masse but Korgh, who was left on Gamaral, manages to make contact with the Phantom Wing and sets out to rescue Kruge's allies from exile to crew his fleet and seek revenge on James T. Kirk and the Enterprise. But after the leader of the exiles refuses to violate their banishment, Korgh is left to find a new path.
In the late twenty-fourth century Gamaral is a Federation colony and the Enterprise-E is sent to carry the nobles of the House of Kruge and the clone of Kahless to a ceremony celebrating the heroism of the nobles during the Battle of Gamaral, aided by Galdor, the house's Gin'tak, or trustee. After investigating, Worf and Kahless come to the conclusion that none of the nobles they are supposed to honor took part in the battle but as Kahless begins his speech the event is struck by a team of assassins while the Enterprise finds itself under attack from multiple warships that can fire while cloaked.
Almost all of the nobles of the House of Kruge are killed in the attack while Kahless and Worf are captured by the assassins. In the aftermath of the attack, Galdor reveals that he is actually Korgh and offers proof that he was adopted by Kruge. Meanwhile, Worf and Kahless are taken to the assassins' base, a colony in the Briar Patch, where they discover that their captors are the Unsung, the survivors and descendants of Kruge's exiled allies. With the Enterprise and Klingon warships searching for them, Worf takes advantage of an Unsung ceremony being broadcast to the galaxy to send a hidden message to the Enterprise, but the ceremony swiftly take a terrible turn...
I give this book 7 out of 10. The battle sequences are well-written but too few and short for my taste. The investigation of Worf and Kahless into the Battle of Gamaral was interesting but rendered moot by the timing of the assassin's strike. And the political portion of the book dragged on too long. Also, the back cover reveals a key spoiler that I feel shouldn't have been revealed until the reader reached the appropriate point in the story.