Star Trek
Crucible: Spock
The Fire and the Rose

Author: David R George III
Pocket Books
RRP: 6.99, US $7.99, Cdn $9.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 7434 9169 3
ISBN-10: 0 7434 9169 6
Available 02 January 2007

Spock, displaced in time, watches his closest friend heed his advice by allowing the love of his life to die, thereby preserving Earth's history. Returning to the present, Spock confronts other such crises, but chooses instead to wilfully alter the past. Challenged by the thorny demands of his logic, he is forced to re-examine the choices he has made in his life. Unwilling to accept his feelings of loss and regret, he seeks that which has previously eluded him: complete mastery of his emotions. But while that quest will move him beyond his turmoil, another loss will bring him full circle to once more face the fire he has never embraced...

In common with Provenance of Shadows, the previous book in the Crucible trilogy, which focused on the character of Dr McCoy, the plot of The Fire and the Rose weaves with two main timelines. Following a prologue set during the episode Where No Man Has Gone Before (it makes sense to start here, as author David R George III demonstrates that Kirk and Spock's close friendship only really kicked off after the death of Jim's old comrade Gary Mitchell), the novel alternates between the years following Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and a novelisation of Spock's view of events in The City on the Edge of Forever. We also see more of the dramatic conclusion to the five-year mission, as depicted in Provenance, this time from the Vulcan's perspective.

As with the previous book, the author reconciles certain oddities from the TV and movie series along the way. For example, he subtly explains why, in Where No Man Has Gone Before, Dr Piper administers a pill to Captain Kirk without first examining his patient.

Unlike the McCoy novel, this is a much shorter work - though that's only a relative term. Whereas Provenance weighed in at a hefty 624 pages of densely packed type, The Fire and the Rose runs to a "mere" 388 pages, with fewer lines of text per page. (Maybe that explains why this review is similarly briefer!)

Actually, some of the material from the McCoy book might have been just as appropriate in this one, if not more so - particularly Spock's emotional regression while in Sarpeidon's past during the episode All Our Yesterdays and his subsequent resignation from Starfleet in order to undergo the Kolinahr ritual shown in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Having said that, perhaps George intended those two incidents to be interpreted as cause and effect in the previous novel, only for that assumption to be overturned here. It transpires that Spock's reasons for wishing to cast out his emotions are considerably more complex than heartache following his doomed romance with Zarabeth.

This book and its predecessor show McCoy and Spock to have more in common than you might think. In addition to being Jim Kirk's closest friends, they also harbour inner demons that cause them to lose sleep, and both have trouble holding down stable relationships when it comes to romance. The author wastes little time before introducing a woman, the wily yet logical Ambassador Alexandra Tremontaine, whom the Vulcan finds sufficiently "fascinating".

A less cumbersome work than Provenance of Shadows, The Fire and the Rose rises to the occasion very nicely indeed. It's just a shame that the subtitle is so off-centre on the spine.

Richard McGinlay

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