The Ashes of Eden is a novel told by William Shatner, but ghost written by the husband and wife writing team of Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens. Having read much of their work independent of Shatner, I like them as a team. They have captured perfectly Captain Kirk/Shatner’s voice.
So, although William Shatner is given sole author credit, this is Shatner’s story, but their actual writing. The story is a little self-indulgent when it comes to Captain Kirk. That is to be expected. If you have ever listened to a senior citizen speak, they love to regale you with stories of their youth, and how great they were at . . . (fill in the blank.)
In this story, there is some of that, but not enough to turn me off. In fact, I found the story quite compelling. It takes place after Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and six months before the launch of the Enterprise 1701-B and the tragic events of the Star Trek: Generations movie.
Captain Kirk is on Earth, living in San Francisco with Doctor Carol Marcus. The shadow of retirement looms heavy with the promise of lazy days, peace, and quiet. However, where most men might find delight in having earned a respite from their labors, Jim Kirk feels compelled to seek adventure.
The story makes you wonder if those moments of nostalgia resonate with Shatner himself as he is looking back on his career through the lens of an older gentleman.
While at a Starfleet function, Kirk meets an exotic young woman who is half Klingon, half Romulan. Teilani has the characteristic pointy ears and fair complexion of a Romulan, plus slight forehead ridges that mark her as part Klingon. She is mesmerizingly beautiful and Kirk is swept away by her loveliness and need for assistance.
Teilani tells Kirk that her homeworld, Chal, is being threatened by invaders who want to take the only resource that it has to offer. Chal is a virtual Garden of Eden where the inhabitants do not age. It is also a world colonized as a joint experiment by both Romulans and Klingons.
Teilani and her contemporaries are all products of several generations. She wishes to enlist Kirk to help her planet fight off the villains. As an added incentive, Teilani has purchased the Enterprise from Starfleet. Kirk is once again in command of his ship.
With the temptation of eternal youth, the promise of adventure on the captain’s chair of the Enterprise, and the love of a gorgeous young woman, Kirk quits Starfleet. Much to the chagrin of both McCoy and Spock, they attempt to counsel him, but he is adamant. He will go to Chal to assist the inhabitants.
As the story moves to Chal, it is evident that not all is as Teilani has communicated. It appears that the only people that are attempting to invade Chal is a rogue group from Starfleet: the same group that attempted the assassination in the Undiscovered Country. Also, there is a group of Anarchists on Chal, that are protecting a secret about the previous generations on Chal that have lasting repercussions, but fall within the continuity.
I don’t want to go much further, so that I avoid spoilers. I, also, have not mentioned the other characters we typically can expect in a Star Trek: The Original Series story. They are present, but to reveal their storylines would kind of give away their participation in the story.
Suffice it to say, the typical Spock, McCoy, Kirk conversations are handled deftly. Chekhov and Sulu get into a fistfight. Scotty goes along with Kirk to re-fit the Enterprise with Klingon weaponry. Kirk and Scotty walk into a Klingon bar. Uhura and Chekhov do counter-intelligence for Starfleet command and it all is woven together almost seamlessly.
My only complaint is about the villain. The villain is obvious from the beginning. We have seen this character type before, not as a specific, but in general. The villain is one note with very little depth, no backstory explanation. Well, explained by exposition, but not with any depth of pathos or understanding. It’s a very minor complaint in the vast wonderfulness of this novel.
Clearly, Shatner has a love for this character and so do I. He is not my favorite Captain, but he is fascinating not just for his heroism, but for his arrogance as well. This is written with warmth and it is obvious that the ghost writers felt that warmth when they were told the story. They convey it well here.