Like the Borg, the Klingons have long seemed to me to be among the most-overused alien races in Trek. The problem is exacerbated by the tendency of the televised product to treat the Klingons as one-note aliens, blathering about "honor!" and "loyalty!" and "a good day to die!" Such flat portrayals can only work for so long.
Fortunately, Keith R.A. DeCandido's I.K.S. Gorkon novels face no such flaws. His Klingons feel like real, fully-developed members of an alien race- an entertaining one. And in the latest entry, Enemy Territory, which is easily the best Gorkon book yet, he creates a new alien race, the Elabrej Hegemony, who are equally well-rendered.
One of the highlights of this ongoing series is the opportunity to watch the arcs of various characters, from chief engineer Kurak to squad leader Wol to Captain Klag. To see such continuity and change in a Star Trek story in an era when the televised product cultivates a bland sameness is especially rewarding.
The overall plotline of the book also features some surprises that the reader won't be expecting- DeCandido continues his penchant for killing off key characters, and another ongoing story reaches what may well be a major turning point. It'll be interesting to see how the promised fourth book in the saga plays out.
Coming as it does more than a year after the release of the most recent Gorkon book, this one is a little difficult to get into at first. The sheer amount of Klingon names is difficult to handle, as is the shifting membership of Wol's squad. However, the author does provide enough information to jog the reader's memory eventually, and by 1/3 of the way through everything was clear.
The standout aspect of Enemy Territory for me remains the presentation of these two societies, which are both alien and somehow familiar. The biological makeup of the Elabrej has a true strangeness that makes full use of the benefits of print, and their lack of cultural richness is almost bizarre, but the state of their political system and the various responses to it have a certain relevance in the modern world. And while the Klingons remain an aggressive, violent people (a truth brought home in a pair of rather graphic scenes), their similarities to humanity are clear, and one character's attitude to an old Klingon TV show provides a moment of fascinating insight.
Full of action and humor and rich with characterization, Enemy Territory is another strong installment in the thriving Star Trek fiction line. 4 stars, or 8.5/10.