Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Covenant of the Crown

 The Covenant of the Crown (1981) by Howard Weinstein

Eighteen years ago, a young Lieutenant James T. Kirk helped King Stevvin and the royal family of Shad escape safely into exile when a dangerous rebellion broke out on the planet. Taking the powerful Crown of Shad with him, the King has waited a long time for the right time to return and unite his people. The time is now--but the area of space where Shad is located is disputed space and the Klingons would love to get hold of the crown and bring Shad under their power. 

The Enterprise is assigned to transport the King and his entourage back to Shad because Stevvin will accept no one but Kirk. However, when the starship arrives they find the King near death and an inexperienced Princess Kailyn in line for the throne. If she is to take her place as Shad's next Queen, they will need to retrieve the crown from its hiding place on another planet and she will need to prove herself worthy to wear it. According to Shaddan legend, only those with the control to clear the crystals of the crown to a brilliant blue are the true leaders of Shad. With a Klingon warship dogging their path, Kirk sends Spock and Dr. McCoy with Kailyn by shuttlecraft to find the crown while the Enterprise acts as decoy. But there is a spy in the King's retinue and the Klingons know more about the plan than is good for the mission. Can Spock and McCoy keep Kailyn safe on a planet with dangerous weather patterns, primitive hunters, and a Klingon espionage team on their heels? And, if they survive and find the crown will does Kailyn have the power to control the crown?

Meanwhile, Starfleet wasn't aware of the need for the the crown's retrieval and they're none too pleased to have found out only by monitoring Klingon communications. They insist that Kirk discover who the spy is among Stevvin's staff before he returns to Sigma 1212 for the shuttlecraft team. The longer it takes to find the traitor the longer Kailyn will be in danger...

I absolutely did not plan this--but I pretty much read this for the Star Trek Anniversary. Fifty-seven years of Trek in one form or another. This book was part of a boxed set advertised at Walden Books in Christmas '80s. Having been born the year the original series went off the air, I grew up with it in syndication. It provided the background of my early years--coming on at about 5/5:30 on week nights, it was on when we were having supper. I enjoyed the show, but my interest in Trek didn't take off until I spotted that boxed set with a bow on it in a Christmas display. And being a reader, I promptly put it on my Christmas wish list. Santa delivered and I'm quite sure I blazed through all five of those books by the end of January.

This was one of my favorites of the set which also included The Abode of Life, The Klingon Gambit, The Entropy Effect, and The Prometheus Design and it still is. My previous reference to the novel said that I didn't much care for the fantasy elements--since that's not one of my preferred genres. But that aspect really didn't bother me much this time. I absolutely love that McCoy takes center stage as well as the fact that his relationship with Spock is featured. It is also appealing that I could see this as an expanded episode for the original series. Most of these early novels try to be faithful to the series and the characters--sometimes adding to their backstories, but the feel of the characters and the adventures are right. It was fun to watch Spock try to give advice to McCoy about the crush Kailyn has developed on our favorite doctor and interesting to hear the different versions of what makes a good leader from Spock, McCoy, and Shirn O'tay, the leader of the mountain settlement whom Stevvin had entrusted with the task of hiding the crown. 

Lots of good adventure, a tangle with Klingons, and a good amount of humor (which was integral to some of the best episodes of the series). Chekov's efforts to lose the ten pounds he'd mysteriously gained since his last physical added just the right amount of levity to the tense situation on board the Enterprise. Still one of my favorite Trek novels.★★★★

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