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Serpents Among The Ruins

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at August 30, 2003 - 8:52 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: The Lost Era, Serpents Among the Ruins
Author: David R. George III
Publication Date: September, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-7434-6403-6

A novel, regardless of genre, doesn't get much better than this. The newest of The Lost Era novels, Serpents Among the Ruins by David R. George III, has every element that makes for an exceptional reading experience: an original and imaginative plot; phenomenal characters; and a distinctive style that the author is able to sustain from the beginning to the end.

The year is 2311 and the event is the mysterious and infamous Tomed Incident. The Federation and the Romulan Star Empire are on a countdown to war. Neither side has any doubt that war will come. Step by step, inch-by-inch, through a series of events large and small the two powers move ever closer to the seemingly inevitable conflict. There are only two questions: what will be the spark that ignites the hostilities, and who will the Klingons side with?

After eighteen years in command of Starfleet's flagship, the Enterprise-B, Captain John Harriman is a seasoned and experienced leader, a man with more than his share of experience with the Romulans. Many things have transpired through the years to bring Harriman to this point in his career and this point in history. And it will take every resource at his disposal (and a bit of luck too) to make sure that the Federation survives.

Dramatic and suspenseful are the first words that spring to mind as I try to describe my thoughts about this spectacular novel, but for all its drama and excitement, Serpents Among the Ruins manages to be a contemplative and poignant story as well. It is a story driven by the characters that are in turn driven by the events they find themselves caught up in.

This novel builds slowly, allowing the reader to get to know the principal characters: their motivations, their nature, their flaws and strengths, and their hopes and dreams. It allows you to see the events from the perspective of Romulans and Klingons as well as citizens of the Federation. The first one hundred pages or so sets the stage with narrative so richly detailed that the events seem entirely real. You feel as if you are watching these momentous, albeit fictitious, events unfold before your eyes.

Author David R. George III exhibits extraordinary craftsmanship as he carefully takes the reader through the brilliantly plotted events. He draws a rich portrait of John Harriman, a man born and bred to serve the Federation; an open and deceptively casual man who projects a confidence he does not always feel but who is totally secure with himself and his convictions; a man with the weight of the quadrant on his shoulders. By the end of the story, you can't help but like and admire him.

The other characters which populate Serpents Among the Ruins are just as striking, each in their own way: the Enterprise's first officer, Commander Demora Sulu; Harriman's adversary, the Romulan Admiral Vokar; the Klingon Chancellor Azetbur; a young Starfleet special ops field agent, Elias Vaughn; and the various ambassadors, crew members, Romulans and Klingons who all play a role in this tale.

No matter what your preconceived notions of the who, what, where and how of the Tomed Incident that Serpents Among the Ruins so powerfully and impressively illuminates, nothing in your imagination could compare to this gripping and shocking tale. Whatever you do, don't read ahead: you'll never forgive yourself if you do.

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Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.

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