Vulcan's Soul, Book One: ExodusBy Jacqueline Bundy
Posted at August 6, 2004 - 6:24 PM GMT
Title: Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul, Book One: Exodus
Authors: Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz
Publication Date: July 2004
A clever and accomplished novel, Vulcan's Soul: Exodus is the first book of an all-new trilogy by authors Josepha Sherman and Susan Shwartz. Long planned to follow their bestselling novels Vulcan's Forge and Vulcan's Heart, Vulcan's Soul: Exodus builds on what the authors have already done with the character of Spock in those two novels. Those books established even more of a backstory for Spock, saw him marry Saavik and so much more. With Exodus they take the next step, expanding even further the character of Spock while exploring the history and culture of the Vulcans and Romulans.
The setting is thirty-three years after the events of Vulcan's Heart, one year after the end of the Dominion War, when the Romulan Empire is suddenly and viciously attacked by a mysterious race called the Watraii who claim that Romulus and Remus are their native homeworlds. Knowing that the Federation cannot become directly involved, Spock, with the aid of Saavik, Uhura, Chekov and some old friends set out to confront the Watraii and attempt a peaceful resolution. The secret behind the Watraii's attack is buried in Vulcan's ancient past during a time of such violent conflict that some felt compelled to take to the stars to preserve their heritage and it is up to Spock and his allies to unravel the mystery before any further conflict breaks out.
In many ways Vulcan's Soul: Exodus reminds me of the classic Diane Duane novel Spock's World that used Vulcan history so effectively as a backdrop to the story. Exodus, however, focuses on one particular period in Vulcan history, the time of Surak and the Sundering. Alternating between the memories of Karatek, a Vulcan scientist of that era who befriends Surak, and the events currently unfolding, the story is rich in historical detail.
Sherman and Shwartz have created or revived several memorable characters that recur in their novels and it is a pleasure to see them once again in Exodus. The exiled Romulan Ruanek is back, as is Romulan Commander Charvanek ("The Enterprise Incident"), now the chief of Romulan Intelligence. Given the long life spans of Vulcanoids it's not much of a surprise to see Charvanek, a born survivor if there ever was one, but some may have a harder time with the idea that Charvanek's counterpart in Starfleet, Admiral Uhura or Admiral Pavel Chekov should still be actively serving. It really isn't as much of a stretch as you would think, given what has been established, that two such renowned and experienced officers should still be capable of serving Starfleet at the ripe old age of 132 and 138.
I particularly enjoyed the author's portrayal of the relationship between Spock and Saavik. The ending of Vulcan's Heart saw them married at last and it quickly becomes evident in Exodus that while they may have continued to pursue their individual careers, their bond is as strong as ever.
As the first novel in an extended story Vulcan's Soul: Exodus does an outstanding job of setting the stage for more dramatic storytelling in the subsequent novels. The plot moves along at a brisk pace, offering plenty of surprises and action along the way. Most importantly, Exodus leaves you wanting more.
Jacqueline Bundy reviews Star Trek books for the Trek Nation, writes monthly columns for the TrekWeb newsletter and the Star Trek Galactic News, and hosts the Yahoo Star Trek Books Group weekly chat.