legacies1-smallAn epic new trilogy begins — a tie-in for the milestone fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek: The Original Series — that stretches from the earliest voyages of the Starship Enterprise to Captain Kirk’s historic five-year-mission…and from one universe to another!

Hidden aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise is a secret that has been passed from captain to captain, from Robert April to Christopher Pike to James T. Kirk.

Now the return of the enigmatic woman once known as Number One has brought that secret to light, and Kirk and his crew must risk everything to finish a mission that began with April so many years ago…

Nearly two decades earlier, April and his crew first visited the planet Usilde, where they found both tragedy and a thorny moral dilemma.

Today, the legacy of that fateful occasion will compel Kirk to embark on a risky voyage back to that forbidden world—which is now deep in territory claimed by the Klingon Empire!

Part of the joy of reading Star Trek novels is the opportunity to learn more about characters who we only briefly got to know in an episode or two of the television series.

Such was the case with the previous novel I reviewed – DS9’s Force and Motion – and its exploration of Benjamin Maxwell. That opportunity arises once again in this first entry of TOS’s fiftieth anniversary trilogy, Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain.

Una, known as “Number One,” the enigmatic first officer of the Enterprise under Captain Pike, has long remained a mystery. Seen only in the original unaired pilot, “The Cage” (and then again in reused footage for the Original Series’ only two-parter, “The Menagerie”), Number One struck me as a fascinating character about whom I would love to know more.

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Una feels extreme guilt over the loss of her landing party, from her years under Captain Robert April.

Over the years, there have been a number of stories that go deeper into her character, most notably for me the Star Trek: Crew comic series by John Byrne. However, Captain to Captain explores her character more deeply than any other Star Trek novel has before.

This does serve to give the story a bit of a disjointed feel, with Kirk, Spock, and company only featuring at the beginning and end of the novel, with the middle given over to flashbacks showing a mission that Una led years earlier. During the course of this mission, then-Lieutenant Una lost a number of crewmembers, who were transported to an alien universe by a hostile species, the Jatohr.

The drama centers around the “transfer key,” a Jatohr device that can instantaneously transport someone from our universe to the alien realm. The key has been secreted away in the captain’s quarters of the Enterprise since the days of Robert April, the first captain of the Enterprise. The key has remained the secret of each captain and first officer until now, when Captain Una steals the key in an attempt to rescue the crewmembers she left behind years earlier.

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The transfer key is a weapon very reminiscent of the Mirror Universe’s “Tantalus Field,” and may have similar origins.

Captain to Captain is certainly an interesting start to the Legacies trilogy, but it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. The focus of so much of the story on Robert April’s days on the Enterprise and the spotlight on the character of Una surprised me, and it took some time to get used to.

As far as setups go, Captain to Captain does its job, laying the groundwork for the adventure yet to come. The central conceit of an artifact handed down from “captain to captain” doesn’t really work for me; the logic of the situation tends to tall apart upon close examination. However, it is an adequate MacGuffin to get the plot in motion.

There are certainly some exciting parts in this novel: the Enterprise’s chase of Captain Una as she makes off with the Transfer Key was a lot of fun, and did a lot to establish just how impressive this character is. Additionally, the cliffhanger ending does a great deal to make me excited for the next chapter in this series. As far as plot twists go, the final chapter is something I certainly did not see coming.

A little unfocused, Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain nonetheless does a competent job of setting up the Legacies trilogy. While the bulk of the story is not quite as attention-grabbing as the first book in a trilogy should be, this novel does redeem itself with a cliffhanger ending that has me hooked.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
"Legacies, Book 1: Captain to Captain"
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  • Here’s my Amazon review of this book, which I gave three (out of five) stars:

    Makes Number One Look Like an Idiot

    Nearly all of this story is about the woman Star
    Trek fans know as Number One. Not only would I prefer that at least
    HALF of a TOS novel be about Kirk and Spock, but the story makes Number
    One look like an idiot. We’re TOLD that she’s blindingly competent, but
    every time we actually see her in action, she makes stupid decisions and seems
    kind of bumbling.

    The author forces his characters and their
    technology to behave the way he wants them to, regardless of whether or
    not this is realistic. So people equipped with tricorders do not scan
    for local inhabitants and are surprised and captured by them, even when
    they know that local inhabitants exist. It seems as if “do a scan with
    your tricorder before getting out of the shuttle” would be a Week 1
    lesson at Starfleet Academy, but it’s evidently beyond a woman that
    we’re told is gosh, oh, so wonderfully competent. Oh, and it’s possible
    to put multiple bugs — both cameras and sound — in the captain’s
    quarters without anyone detecting them, even though a highly important
    object was stolen from those same quarters earlier in the book, so one
    would think Kirk or Spock or Scotty — probably all three — would be on
    their guard.

    When Kirk and Spock do put in their rare
    appearances, they aren’t always in character. For example, when Kirk
    tells Spock that his piloting stinks, Spock replies, “If I had feelings,
    they would be hurt.” SPOCK said that? No way! Totally out of character.

    The
    story is not uninteresting, and the tie-in to the technology in
    “Mirror, Mirror” was intriguing, but if I’m reading a Star Trek novel, I
    want the characters to be IN character, I want them NOT to behave in
    weirdly stupid ways, and I want the book to be mostly about Kirk and
    Spock, not mostly about a minor character from the first pilot.

    I’ve
    read FAN fiction better than this book. Is it too much to ask that the
    book be mostly about Kirk and Spock and that they be in character?

  • Fiery Little One

    I felt the names for the Jatohr were a little bit too on the nose. I think it took me 3 pages at most to figure out the scientist was going to turn on the others just by thinking about hir name. The commander took a bit longer, but I still groaned when I figured out the pun.

  • Tzadik

    I didn’t like this book, for some of the reasons mentioned above. It was slow, and was a bit of a chore to finish. The cliffhanger ending didn’t grab me enough to warrant getting the next two books.

    Further, I really don’t like what the books have done to Number One. It’s one example of my problem with Trek books, in general: everyone is made AWESOME, and everything is WAY too connected. Number One isn’t an alien. Her name isn’t Una. No, I don’t have a problem with Una being a Celtic name. It’s a lazy way of explaining her “Number One” nickname. A Celtic name doesn’t add anything to the character BECAUSE SHE’S NOT EVEN HUMAN (let alone, of Celtic descent).

    Why can’t she just be a very competent HUMAN officer? Especially since canon, even though it was presented in 1965, doesn’t give ANY indication she’s an alien? Shoot, even the Talosians call her a human.

    Not my cup of tea.

    • The Bandsaw Vigilante

      Actually, the term “Illyrian” originally comes straight from D.C. Fontana herself, who establishes Number One’s origins on the planet Illyria in her 1989 novel Vulcan’s Glory, which predated the ENT episode which gave us an alien species by that same name (and one which is drastically physically different from us humans).

      Greg Cox was simply being consistent with (and paying homage to) this older backstory, although perhaps there are two Illyrias in the galaxy — one, belonging to the alien race encountered on ENT, and the second being a human colony going by that same name (a name which is actually Terran in origin, which would be far more appropriate here).

      The novel pretty much establishes that Number One is indeed human (and mentions her human brothers), and I think even John Byrne’s Crew comics went with Number One belonging to homo sapiens (or homo superior, if you will). Certainly, as you mention, Roddenberry himself always intended for her to be human.

  • Charles Baxter

    I found it quite good, although books 2 & 3 in this series are much better.