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The Final Reflection (Star Trek: The Original Series Book 16) by [Ford, John M.]
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The Final Reflection (Star Trek: The Original Series Book 16) Kindle Edition

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From the Publisher

Klingon Captain Krenn is a ruthless war strategist, but on a mission to Earth Krenn learns a lesson in peace. Suddenly he must fight a secret battle of his own for his empire has a covert plan to shatter the Federation. Only Krenn can prevent a war, at the risk of his own life.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1: Tactics

The children of the Empire were arming for the Game.

Vrenn was a Lancer. He tested the adhesion of his thick-soled boots, adjusted a strap and found them excellent. He flexed his shoulders within their padding -- the armor was slightly stiff with newness; he would have to allow for that.

Vrenn's Lance still hung on its charge rack. He leaned into the wall cabinet, read full charge on the indicator, and carefully lifted the weapon out. The Lance was a cylinder of metal and crystal, as thick as his palm was wide. He rested its blank metal, Null end on the floor, and the glass Active tip just reached his shoulder. Then he hefted it, spun it, ran his fingers over the controls in the checkout sequence, watching flashes and listening to answering clicks. The crystal tip glowed blue with neutral charge.

It was a fine Lance, absolutely new like his armor. Vrenn had never before had anything that was new. He wondered what would happen to these things, after they had won the game...if there would be prizes to the victors. He took a deep breath of the prep room's air, which was warm and deliciously moist; he lifted his Lance to shoulder-ready and turned around.

Across the room, Dezhe and Rokis were helping each other into Flier rigs, shiny metal harnesses and glossy boots with spurs. Rokis tightened her left hand inside the control gauntlet, and rose very rapidly, almost banging her green helmet on the dim ceiling. Dezhe snorted, grabbed one of Rokis's spurs and pretended to pull her back down.

"G'daya new stuff." That was Ragga, who was struggling his immense bulk into the even greater bulk of a Blockader's studded hide armor. "Not a g'dayt crease in it, can't khest'n move." He did a few squats-and-stretches, looked a little more satisfied, but not much.

"Who said you could move anyway?" Gelly said. Ragga swiped at her; she danced out of the way without the slightest difficulty. "You'd better not move. You might fall down, and I don't think the rest of us together could get you up again."

Ragga showed his teeth and arched his arms, roared like a stormwalker. Gelly skittered away, laughing. Ragga was laughing too, a sound not much different from his roar.

Gelly sealed up the front of her uniform, a coverall of shiny green mesh, with gloves and boots of finely jointed metal on her slender hands and feet. She was the best Swift of their House: the House Proctors said she might be the best Swift of all the Houses.

Others said other things, about her slimness, her smooth forehead, the lightness of her bones and flesh. Vrenn felt a little sorry for her: when they were younger, he had called her "Ugly, ugly!" with the others. But she couldn't help being ugly, and if it was true that some of her genes were Vulcan or Romulan -- or even Human! -- that was not her fault either. He did not think she was part-Human, though. Vrenn had killed a Human in the Year Games, when he was six, his first intelligent kill, and Humans were slow, not swift.

There had been the one who called Gelly kuveleta: servitor's half-child. Zharn had killed that one, and done it well. They had all killed, Zharn and Vrenn and Ragga many different races, but Zharn was the best.

But they were all the best, Vrenn thought. Their positions had not been randomly chosen, nor they themselves: of the three hundred residents of House Twenty-Four, they were the nine best at klin zha kinta, the game with live pieces.

Now Zharn was sitting against the wall of the prep room, in full Fencer's armor: smooth green plates and helmet, slender metal staff across his knees. He was humming "Undefeated," a favorite song of House Gensa. Segon, a lightly armored Vanguard, was near him, keeping time with his bootheel. A little farther away, Graade and Voloh, the other Vanguards, held hands and kept harmony.

Zharn began to sing aloud, and in a moment they were all singing.

And though the cold brittles the flesh,
The chain of duty cannot be broken,
For the chain is forged in the heart's own fire
Which cold cannot extinguish...

The door opened. In the long corridor beyond, lit greenly by small lamps on the walls, was their Senior Proctor, old Khidri tai-Gensa. Khidri was nearly forty years old, very wrinkled; he had been a full Commander in the Navy until vacuum crippled his lungs. Next to him was a Naval officer, in black tunic and gold dress sash and Commander's insignia, with medals for ships taken.

Zharn was instantly on his feet. "Green Team, present!"

The players snapped to attention at once, wrists crossed in salute, weapons at ready-arms.

Khidri gave them a slight smile and one short nod. "This is a high day for the House Gensa," he said. "We are chosen to play at the command of Thought Admiral Kethas epetai-Khemara."

Vrenn felt his chest tighten, but he did not move. None of the Team did. A planner for the entire Navy! he thought, and knew then that he was right: they were the very best...and others knew it.

Khidri said, "The Thought Admiral is of course a Grand Master of klin zha...this day we must be worthy of a Grand Master's play." In the last was the smallest hint of a threat, or perhaps a warning. Next to Khidri, the Navy officer stood impassive and rather grim.

"Zharn Gensa, is your Green Team ready?"

"Armed and prepared, Proctor Khidri."

"Then bring them," Khidri said, and as he turned around Vrenn thought he saw the Proctor's smile widen. Then Vrenn looked at Zharn. The Fencer was nine, a year older than the rest of them, and seemed the pure image of leadership.

"House Twenty-Four Green Team," Zharn said, "onward to the victory!"

The klin zha players filed out of the room, marching in step down the green corridor, singing.

Yet if my line should die,
It dies with its teeth in the enemy's throat,
It dies with its name on the enemy's tongue.
For just as mere life is not victory,
Mere death is not defeat;
And in the next world I shall kill the foe a thousand times,

The Arena Gallery was a long, low-ceilinged room, furnished with large soft cushions and small wooden tables with trays of succulents. Servitors, moving silently in clean tan gowns of restrictive cut, replaced the trays when they became empty or messy. Fog hung at the ceiling, humidifier mist mixed with the personal incenses some of the officers present carried. One long wall of the room was entirely of dark glass.

There were slightly more than a dozen of high ranks present, Naval and Marine, and two civilian administrators with a reputation at klin zha. Also in the room were a few of the officers' consorts -- two for Admiral Kezhke, who was never moderate -- and three Vulcans, all tharavul.

"The spindles for first move, Thought Admiral?" General Margon sutai-Demma held out a pair of hexagonal rods, of polished white bone with numerals inlaid in gold on their faces. Margon gave them a small, rattling toss and caught them again. They showed double sixes. There was a mildly unpleasant look on Margon's face, but there usually was, and the scar at the side of his mouth only added to it.

Behind Margon, Force Leader Mabli vestai-Galann sat on a cushion, looking quite uncomfortable. One of Margon's kuve consorts was stroking Mabli's shoulders, which did not seem to relax him at all, though the female's claws were fully retracted. Mabli kept glancing at the other officers: every one outranked him. Worse, the administrators did as well. Mabli looked straight at his opponent.

Thought Admiral Kethas epetai-Khemara had deep wrinkles in his knobbed forehead, hair very white at his temples. He was fifty-two years old, an age at which Klingons of the Imperial Race should be dead by

Product Details

  • File Size: 1250 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0671743546
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek (September 22, 2000)
  • Publication Date: September 22, 2000
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC0OH2
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,967 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Rabbi Yonassan Gershom VINE VOICE on February 5, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I muust admit that it took me a while to get into this novel, because it opens with a blow-by-blow Klingon game of strategy (klin zha) using live players. I'm not a fan of martial arts or action video games, so I found it hard to figure out exactly what was going on at first. However, because I am currently reading all the early Trek novels in search of possibly Jewish characters (for a research project), I made myself continue reading, even though I expected the book to be a slog. Boy, was I wrong! The game in Chapter 1 turned out to be the template for understanding the whole book, which is as tightly-plotted as a Grand Master chess game -- and then some.
Other reviewers have given excellent synopses of the story, so I won't reinvent the wheel. I'll just point out some interesting trivia, such as a brief appearance by Leonard McCoy's grandfather (the book is a prequel, with Leonard himself a mere babe in diapers at the time), and a meeting between young Spock and the Klingon Captain Krenn, who play a game of chess together. Also of interest is the fact that the "Imperial Race" of Klingons in this book have ridged or knobbed foreheads. Remember, the book was published in 1984, three years before we saw Worf's ridges in NextGen. Klingons in this book also do not cry, and apparently have no tear ducts, since Krenn takes special note of this in Humans. Although tearless Klingons did not become "canonical" until the Star Trek VI movie, the idea was obviously invented by Ford here. My point being, that this novel is an important source for a lot of things about the Klingon culture.
And oh yes -- there is a Jewish character, too: Colonel Jael Rabinowich, assigned to security for Captain Krenn's delegation to a Babel conference on earth.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Years ago, in "Best of Trek", I read a fan's amateur reviews of pro Star Trek novels. Her critique of The Final Reflection: "I don't like any book that I have to read three times just to understand what's going on." I believe her comment says a LOT about the simplistic drivel which comprises most Star Dreck, compared with the richness of this novel. Author Ford, a respected science-fiction writer, gives us a fascinating vision of a very alien species, whose culture is based on a bushido-style code of honor and a chesslike Perpetual Game of personal advancement and power. This definitive novel about the Klingons is presented as a book within a book, and takes place some forty years before the famous five-year mission of Captain Kirk. The protagonist is an Imperial-race Klingon. An orphan raised in a militarily-structured Lineless House, six-year-old Vrenn makes his first sentient kill -- an adult Human male -- in the arena of the Years End Games. A skilled fighter in the klin zha kinta, the Game With Living Pieces, Vrenn is noticed by Thought-Admiral Kethas, who adopts him into his Line. He joins the Navy, and through battle-prowess and political maneuvering, rises quickly to the rank of Captain. He begins to make his Name in the service of Empire. Then Krenn is chosen for a mission of great secrecy and delicacy... This is a meticulously-developed novel of strategy, conspiracy, subtrafuge, diplomacy, betrayal, vengeance, and above all, honor. The plot is so intricate, the prose so precise, that the story can be read again and again, and can seem fresh each time. Even people who hate Trek will enjoy this one. By the way, this book also provides the reason why the Original Series Klingons look different from the ones in the modern series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Does this book an injustice. It is an excellent novel in it's own right, and would stand alone as a superior work without the extended Trek universe to support it. I stopped reading Trek novels years ago when it became apparent that they all pretty much followed the same formula. One in which the author used the story to insert themself into the Trek universe. This work is nothing like that.
Apparent from reading the book is that it was the source of much Next Generation Klingon lore (houses,lines, a quasi-feudal society, a "privateer" style military) and many plot lines. (Worf's dead or dishonored line, Worf being the son of a Klingon commander, killed by a Romulan massacre, he and his brother's adoptions, the character of General Martok.) John M. Ford's name should have been listed somewhere in the series' credits for creative contributions.
If Paramount ever decides to take another trip to the Well of Trek, this book should be the vehicle for that series.
Exciting, captivating, and just hard to put down. It is a rousing good tale true to the Horatio Hornblower, Jack Aubrey mold.
John M. Ford wrote this book in 1984 I think. What I find particulary interesting is that some of the Klingon ship's systems he describes, are now actually used in modern weapons systems like the AH-64 Apache Longbow and the M1A2 Abrams tank.
In the last 20 years I've kept only one Trek novel---The Final Reflection.
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One of the few truly good STAR TREK novels with any appeal to a non STAR TREK audience. Ironic since the novel does not deal with the familiar STAR TREK cast of characters at all, but is set approximately 40 years before the time of the original series.
The story focuses on Krenn, a young Klingon Commander who is a practitioner of "that least Klingon of arts...strategy" and his relationship with Emanuel Tagore, an ambassador sent to the Klingon Empire to represent the United Federation of Planets.
Skillfully crafting the interactions between these two characters, Ford allows for an exploration of human nature on a general level, as Krenn struggles to understand the alien concepts of morality and humanism while Dr. Tagore tries to assimilate the Klingon's more Darwinistic philosophies and conception of honor.
The novel builds to a suitably satisfying climax where Krenn must think several moves ahead of events in order to secure himself, Dr. Tagore and their two respective Empires.
All in all, a tight, fascinating exploration of what the Klingons refer to as the Komerex Zha (The Perpetual Game) that represents life itself wherever it thrives in the universe.
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