This review was originally posted on Trek.fm
Jeff Mariotte’s newest Star Trek book, “Serpents in the Garden,” is a follow-up to the classic episode “A Private Little War.” When Admiral Kirk finds out that the Klingons may once again be interfering in the affairs of Neural, he embarks on a secret mission to expose the Klingons while trying to minimize damage with the native population due to the Prime Directive. With no starship backup, Kirk may just have created his first no-win scenario.
CHOICE OF FUTURES
Kirk has made many split-second decisions in his career. His first five-year mission was replete with facing the unknown while doing his best to make the smartest choices he could with the information and experience he had. Throughout this book, Kirk reminisces about the actions he took all those years ago on Neural and whether they were really the best solution to the problem. What he concludes from his newest adventure is that he did make the best choice he could at the time. His mistake was in not following up with the situation to ensure that the Klingons had not returned and that Starfleet had adequately monitored the situation.
This story is a good reminder that our choices have long lasting consequences. Like Kirk, we do the best we can at the time, using our experience and knowledge to forge our path in this world. Remembering to follow up on our decisions is an important lesson. Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation were not the best at showing us this kind of thing. Mariotte does a great job letting us see Kirk deal with his past decisions; the galaxy is a big place, but this story goes a long way to show that follow-up is just as important as initial contact.
One of the best things about this book is its time frame. It is set in the interim between the end of the five-year mission and The Motion Picture. The insight into Kirk and his rediscovery of his love of starship command is definitely a highlight. The story is well told, yet not overwhelming in grandeur. It is a solid entry in the Novelverse and well worth the read. I rate it six out of ten Mugato attacks.