It is often said that the right person in the right place
can change an empire; such a person is Commander Ael t'Rllaillieu,
Captain of the Rihannsu warship Bloodwing. To the Federation
she is an enigma, a Romulan Commander who is willing to put
truth and honour above the needs of the Empire. When she discovers
that the Empire is nearly ready to deploy a weapon, which
will destabilise not only her own people but potentially both
the Klingon Empire and the Federation, she seeks out the one
man she can trust, Captain James T. Kirk. What starts as a
mission to destroy a single station leaves Ael with a price
on her head and the threat of an all out war between the Romulan
Star Empire and the Federation...
Rihannsu: The Bloodwing Voyages by Diane Duane and Peter
Morwood is a collection of the, previously published, first
four books in this series including My Enemy, My
Ally, The Romulan Way, Swordhunt and Honor
Blade. The whole lot runs to about seven hundred and seventy-five
pages, which includes the thank you stuff, the main body of
the book, a glossary and an afterward. As you can image this
makes for a real brick of a book. However, amount does not
necessarily equate to quality.
first thing you have to understand is that the first book
in this series was published in nineteen eighty-four, three
years before the start of The Next Generation, which
did much to expand the Romulan's culture and back-story. Therefore,
the stories cannot be considered canon which, to be honest,
is not really a problem. What divergence there is is mostly
minor, if you ignore the latter part of the story.
first story, My Enemy, My Ally (published in 1984),
comes out as the strongest in the book. It's a relatively
straight forward adventure story, full of intrigue and space
battles, so beloved of the Pocket Book series. Ael is introduced
as a woman who, due to her high moral values, is quickly falling
out of favour with the increasingly young and aggressive new
regime which is taking root in the Empire. Duane serves her
new creation well, making Ael a strong character, with her
own voice, more than a match for Kirk. Her motivation for
the betrayal of her own people is well thought out and plausible,
allowing the reader to view her as a sympathetic character.
Duane likewise has a good ear for the vocal nuisances of Kirk,
McCoy and Spock. So, ok, it's not a particularly deep book
but is very enjoyable nonetheless.
strange, you would think that the same author, writing in
the same series would produce continuity of style and form,
but in Bloodwing this is not the case. The second book,
The Romulan Way (published 1987), is a very different
piece: Part Romulan history, and sociological examination,
and part spy story.
a fan of strong female characters, Duane introduces us to
Arrhae ir-Mnaeha t'Khellian who, in reality, is the deep undercover
sociologist and spy Terise Haleakala-LoBrutto. Having lost
touch with the Federation Dr McCoy is sent to discover if
Terise has gone native.
again, as a stand alone novel, this would have been a delight
to anyone who love fictitious histories and languages - though
there is so much of this that there is little room to really
expand Terise's story, leaving it a bit weak and threadbare.
There is a veritable llheri'sian of tongue twisting names
and sentences, which I'm sure were a delight to create but
makes the book a bit heavy going unless you're a real lover
of everything Romulan.
last two books Swordhunt and Honor Blade (both
published in 2000) are run into one, and when you start reading
you understand why - as both books consist of little more
than a series of meetings, some of which have some sort of
conclusion, whereas others just happen with little or no impact
on the overall narrative.
we are introduced to the continuing problems besetting the
Empire, squeezed as it is between the Federation and the Klingon
Empire; the internal strife of open revolution, for which
Ael has become the focus; and, lest I forget, the possibility
of a second Romulan war. But why it took Duane so long to
come to the point is a mystery.
last part of the book is so slow in getting to anything which
would resemble tension that the moment has long since gone.
Given the content of the story these books could have easily
be condensed into one.
series concludes in The Empty Chair, where hopefully
Duane will pick up the pace.