Hell’s Heart is the first book in a new trilogy by John Jackson Miller called Star Trek: Prey. In this story, readers find out about the descendants and heirs of the House of Kruge. Starting shortly after the events of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and leading into The Next Generation several years after Star Trek Nemesis, the book covers two distinct time periods. This allows readers to enjoy adventures with both Kirk and Picard. It also allows for a lot of layers to the story. Readers get to plunge into the history and culture of the Klingons. You get to see the contrast between Kirk’s hatred toward the Klingons and the resentment of some Klingons toward the Federation. Yet there is also the willingness to work together exhibited by the likes of Spock, Worf, and the Klingon Chancellor Martok. With the nuance of the characters, the twists and turns of the story, and the balance of viewpoints, Hell’s Heart marks the beginning of an epic tale.
Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, this series dives into the 23rd and 24th centuries alongside the crews of James T. Kirk and Jean Luc Picard. The way the story encapsulates both time periods is really well done. The bulk of the story takes place in Picard’s timeline with the Kirk era segments serving as flashbacks to how this all got started. Everything centers around the death of Kruge which happened in Star Trek III. Kruge was the Klingon played by Christopher Lloyd who killed Kirk’s son and later died when kicked into a volcano. His death lead to a power vacuum for control of his house as Klingon heirs fought against each other for power. Amongst the heirs was Kruge’s protege, a Klingon named Korgh. The squabble for power came to an end with the battle of Gamaral. Fast forwarding a 100 years, Picard is tasked with transporting the survivors of the battle and the current heads of the house of Kruge to the planet Gamaral. It’s all about celebrating the victory which allowed the house to thrive, as well as laying the groundwork for a new treaty Riker is working on. That’s where the fun kicks in.
Without revealing too much, there is a third party that comes in to threaten the commemoration at Gamaral. This leads to a battle between the Klingons and Picard’s crew and the mysterious attackers. Spiraling out of that is a myriad conflict of Klingon and Federation politics, power plays for control of the house of Kruge, a desperate search for the mysterious attackers, and a deadly fleet of high tech Birds of Prey known as the Phantom Wing. As if that wasn’t enough, the book explores some fascinating aspects of Klingon culture that adds extra dimensions to the characters and additional layers to the plot. As things escalate, it keeps you glued to what will happen next, especially once the bombshells toward the end of the book start dropping.
Aside from the outstanding story that is crafted within the book, one of the biggest driving forces is the strength of the characters. Picard, Worf, Korgh, Galdor and Valandris form the main cast. Picard and Worf speak for themselves as they’re already well established characters which fans will be very familiar with. However, Korgh, Galdor and Valandris are new characters. Korgh is the protege of Kruge, who starts out as your typical brash Klingon but then turns into something much more intelligent, skilled and deadly. Galdor, on the other hand, is the caretaker for the house of Kruge who struggles to manage all the nobles and heirs in effort to preserve peace and prosperity. Then there’s Valandris, one of the mysterious attackers and the primary viewpoint character for their side. Through her, we see what these people are like, how they came about and what it is they’re after. All of the characters exhibit a lot of different emotions and motivations, making them very well rounded.
Given the long lives of the Klingons, they serve as the throughline characters and the bridge between the time periods of Kirk and Picard. This helps cement the story together. Yet it’s the way new elements pop up and add layers to the story that makes the book truly engrossing. Just when you think you know how the story is going, something happens that spins the whole thing around. Then something else will happen that will leave you completely stunned. New characters join in to complicate everything into a wonderfully intricate puzzle that reveals itself bit-by-bit until the whole picture becomes visible. Yet the end doesn’t lay out all the cards, as there are still two more books to go and plenty more to explore. As is, Hell’s Heart is a fun filled ride with rich characters and a entertaining story that escalates with each chapter. I give it a five out of five metal bikinis and cannot wait to read the next book.
Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.