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The Left Hand Of Destiny

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at May 4, 2003 - 5:58 AM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Left Hand of Destiny, Book One
Authors: J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang
Publication Date: April 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-671-78493-5

Title: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Left Hand of Destiny, Book Two
Authors: J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang
Publication Date: May 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 0-671-78494-3

It is not often that a book or movie lives up to its hype, but the two-part epic, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Left Hand of Destiny, certainly does. J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang have produced a magnificent and mesmerising heroic saga that immerses the reader in a timeless tale of revenge and obsession, Klingon-style. Mystic visions, destruction, mayhem, sacrifice, loyalty, honour and, of course, battles. Valiant but bloody battles filled with daring deeds and heart-pounding action. Star Trek novels don't get much more satisfying or true to type than The Left Hand of Destiny — these are most definitely Klingons.

Just days after the events of Deep Space Nine's final episode, "What You Leave Behind", General Martok, now Chancellor, has returned to the Klingon homeworld to assume the leadership of the Klingon council, with Worf, the newly appointed Federation ambassador, at his side. Uncomfortable with his new role, Martok is unsure of his welcome among the old, established families that have long ruled the Empire. But no stretch of the imagination could prepare Martok, or the reader, for the events that unfold upon his arrival.

Book one sets events in motion in spectacular fashion when, with one stroke, the mighty Klingon Empire is brought to its knees by Morjod, Martok's bastard son. But Morjod and his army of Hur'q (yep, the Hur'q) are simply pawns in a dangerous game being played by Martok's former lover, the deranged and deadly Gothmara. The saying "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" is a bit of an understatement when applied to a Klingon.

Pursued by Morjod and his followers, Martok and all those loyal to him are mercilessly hunted as they desperately seek answers to their numerous unanswered questions. Attempting to use Martok's own loyalties against him, Morjod's forces imprison Sirella, using her as bait to lure Martok to his own doom. The climactic rescue of Martok and Sirella from their own execution is, in itself, a deed worthy of song.

The second book follows immediately upon the events of the first as the scene shifts from Qo'nos and those left standing attempt to regroup and plan a counter attack. Joined by Ezri Dax for the second half of the story, the authors cleverly allow the characters themselves to tell most of the rest of the story. And what a story it is! I do not want to spoil the impact of the astonishing events that unfold as this epic races towards its final and resonant confrontation but I would recommend that you make sure you will be uninterrupted during the final chapters.

One of the best attributes of The Left Hand of Destiny is the large and diverse cast of characters. Both the heroes and villains are skillfully and superbly portrayed. Surprisingly one of the most interesting characters isn't even Klingon, but rather a Ferengi named Pharh, a refuse excavator who is drawn, at first reluctantly, into the fray. You can't help but admire this plucky little guy.

Drawing on the Klingon mythos established in the various series and novels, J.G. Hertzler and Jeffrey Lang masterfully manage to combine humour and action as they submerge the reader in Klingon culture. The tension-filled plot builds continuously, the raw power and emotion of the prose literally leaps off the page. From the First City, to the Ketha lowlands, to the frozen wastes of Boreth, the attention to the small details that can make or break a story are obvious. Some of the images employed are clearly drawn from classic sources but they are used so perfectly in the story that it is easy to overlook and forgive.

There are many moments in this tale that will linger in your mind long after you finish reading it. Even those who are not particularly Klingon fans should be able to appreciate the vividness of the writing style. Those that are strong Klingon fans will think they have died and gone to Sto-Vo-Kor. Qapla'!

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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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