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Vulcan's Soul, Book Two: Exiles

By Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at July 26, 2006 - 5:01 PM GMT

Title: Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul, Book Two: Exiles
Authors: Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
Release Date: June 2006
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 0-7434-6359-5

Over two millennia ago, a large group of dissident Vulcans fled the violence of their homeworld to set off for the stars in the hope of establishing a new society...a society that would eventually become the Romulan Star Empire. In the first book of their Vulcan's Soul trilogy, Exodus (August 2004), Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz extrapolated from what little is known of that time in Vulcan history to depict the Sundering.

In their newest novel, Vulcan's Soul, Book Two: Exiles, Sherman and Shwartz tell us the tale of the long and perilous journey that the exiles undertook and how what they experienced on that journey began to gradually transform them, both as individuals and as a culture. The story that is told in Exiles is nothing short of remarkable.

Just as in Exodus, the authors employ dual storylines in Exiles: one that illuminates the past and one the present. Almost two months have passed since Admiral Pavel Chekov was presumed dead in an encounter with the Watraii, the mysterious race who claim that the Romulans seized Romulus and Remus from them. When the head of Starfleet Security, Admiral Uhura, receives word that Chekov is still alive and is being held by the Watraii - who also have in their possession a rare artifact that could hold the truth about the Watraii claims - Uhura calls upon Spock, Saavik, Scotty, Data and Ruanek for a covert mission to recover Chekov and the artifact.

Meanwhile Karatek, reluctant leader of the exiles and the keeper of memories, provides the account of the long journey undertaken by those who fled Vulcan, some voluntarily, some not. Along the way many ships and lives are lost and the various factions who boarded the ships become more and more fragmented as time and hardship takes its toil on the survivors.

Although the Sundering of the Vulcans and Romulans has been touched on before in a few of the novels, Exiles provides the first in-depth exploration of the journey from Vulcan to the planets that we know as Romulus and Remus. It is an astonishing story that will set what you previously might have imagined on its ear and leaves you anxious to find out where things go from here.

The exiles, particularly Karatek and his extended family, are a wonderfully written group of unique and complex individuals. Sherman and Shwartz do an outstanding job of depicting the diverse and disjointed segments of Vulcan society, forced into close proximity onboard the ships. You quickly connect with the characters as you read and their struggles cannot help but move you. This is strong stuff.

The present day storyline of Chekov's rescue didn't hold my attention as firmly until the rescue team arrives at the Watraii homeworld, but that's a minor quibble when balanced against the multifaceted depth of the rest of the novel.

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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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