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Star Trek – My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

1984 was a hell of a year of Star Trek tie-in novels. John M. Ford’s The Final Reflection was published in May 1984. It was followed by a tie-in adaptation of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but the very next original novel would by My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane. Both novels feel like kindred spirits, really pushing the boundaries of what you could do with Star Trek tie-in novels.

In particular, both works devoted considerable time to developing some of the iconic and memorable aliens of Star Trek. Ford’s The Final Reflection extrapolated an entire Klingon culture, while Duane’s My Enemy, My Ally dared to imagine a complex Romulan Empire, so distinct and well-defined that it isn’t even known as Romulan (apparently the term outsiders use for the species), but Rihannsu.

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There is an obvious point of similarity between The Final Reflection and My Enemy, My Ally, in that they are two novels published in the same year developing a recurring space-faring alien civilisation that first appeared the show’s first season. Both garnered a somewhat similar response from the executives working on Star Trek franchising. John Ford claimed that the submission guidelines were explicitly changed to stop books similar to The Final Game ever seeing the light of day, while Gene Roddenberry took particular exception to Diane Duane’s development of the Romulans.

Both books seemed to come directly before (and perhaps even prompted) the editorial backlash against this expansive approach to tie-in Star Trek fiction:

According to Ayers’ book, however, all was not well with the Trek novels — Gene Roddenberry wanted to micro-manage the book line and had his personal assistant, Richard Arnold, read every single book. And Arnold tended to balk at anything that went beyond what had been established on screen.

It’s a shame because – if anything – the Star Trek line really found its feet with books like The Final Reflection and My Enemy, My Ally. To reduce tie-ins to offering bland attempts to do live-action television knock-offs in book forms plays to the worst clichés of tie-in media, and betrays an incredibly conservative approach to the franchise.

However, for all the similarities between The Final Reflection and My Enemy, My Ally, perhaps it is the differences that are most telling. For one thing, My Enemy, My Ally actually features the Enterprise and Kirk. The Final Reflection only featured Kirk and his ship in a framing sequence, although Spock and McCoy both put in quick cameos in the main narrative. In contrast, My Enemy, My Ally is very clearly a Star Trek story, albeit it one with only a slight shift in focus.

The book is split relatively evenly between the events of the Enterprise and Romulan Commander Ael. While Ael is better developed than most guest-stars in previous novels or on the television show, Duane is careful to balance the development of the Romulan Empire with an exploration of life aboard the Enterprise. Although the novel is driven by Romulan society and politics, Duane is very clearly interested in our lead characters and in the way that the Enterprise works, bringing along several characters who recur throughout her Star Trek tie-in work.

Which brings us to the second difference between The Final Reflection and My Enemy, My Ally. John M. Ford wrote two Star Trek tie-in novels. Both were among the most experimental of the line – the Klingon-centric Final Reflection and the musical comedy of How Much For Just the Planet? – but Ford wasn’t a writer who worked with the line’s editorial fiat. In contrast, Duane has had a long and involved history with the franchise, writing for both Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation. In fact, she has a screenplay credit on Where No One Has Gone Before, one of the better episodes of The Next Generation‘s rocky first year.

Duane has written conventional stories, world-building stories, high-concept stories. In fact, My Enemy, My Ally isn’t the first tie-in that Duane wrote, but it is the first in a series of Romulan-centred stories that would only be completed in 2006. She developed a strong enough following that – against the protests of the establishment – her Romulan stories (the Rihannsu series) were allowed to unfold within their own separate continuity. Which, given how tightly the tie-in novel range has been guarded at certain points in its history, is really something.

In fact, that’s a ringing endorsement of Duane’s work. I’ve never leant too heavily on the idea of “canon” myself, or an excessive reliance on continuity or the idea that everything has to fit together in order to have worth. Duane’s novels are good novels, even if they are often supplanted or ignored by the live-action shows. In fact, several of Duane’s novels have been rendered obsolete (Dark Mirror comes to mind), but remain compelling and fascinating reading. The fact that mainstream fandom – a body traditionally fixated on the perceived legitimacy of “canon” – recognises the quality of Duane’s work is an indication of her skill.

Indeed, many fans consider Duane’s interpretation of the Romulan Empire to be superior to that presented on the television show. The portrayal of the aliens in the lackluster Star Trek: Nemesis prompted certain commentators to inquire why Duane’s work had been ignored. For her part, she’s always very polite in acknowledging that the continuity status of her work doesn’t define its legitimacy. Quite right, too.

It’s a fate quite similar to the version of the Klingon Empire depicted in The Final Reflection, an interpretation of the species that was effectively overridden by what appeared on screen in The Next Generation. However, The Final Reflection did bleed into Ronald Moore’s depiction of Klingon culture and you can see small points of overlap, like the way that the Klingons treat their dead in Heart of Glory.

Given Ronald Moore’s fondness for The Final Reflection, and his concession that it influenced his early writing, you can see the influence of Duane’s Rihannsu in the Romulan Empire depicted in The Next Generation. Rather notably, in Moore’s own The Defector, there’s a plot that seems quite similar to My Enemy, My Ally. Discovering a secret Romulan scheme that will upset the galactic balance of power, a high-level Romulan official makes contact with the Enterprise to stop a war.

Ael’s motivations seem quite similar to those driving Jarok in The Defector. “There was the matter of the many lives that would be lost, both in the Empire and outside it, should the horrible thing a-birthing at Levaeri V research station come to term.” In fact, the book even gives us an image quite like the one that opens The Defector, with a small ship crossing the Romulan Neutral Zone, chased by a larger one.

There is a broader connection here, one that could be seen as a defining line between the honour-based Romulan culture glimpse briefly in the original Star Trek and the more cynical and manipulative galactic power that emerged in The Next Generation. Indeed, the Romulan culture hinted at on the classic Star Trek gels with the portrayal of Klingons in The Next Generation, while the untrustworthy and duplicitous Klingons from Friday’s Child and Private Little War feel like progenitors for the Romulans of The Next Generation, fermenting political unrest rather than directly combatting their opponents.

Duane herself seems to allude to this yet-to-come shift when she allows Ael to condemn the act of assassination as antithetical to Romulan ways. “It was supposed to be disdained as a dishonorable act, a sign of barbarity and weakness in the person who hired the assassin: the type of ‘irresponsible’ behavior that made the Romulans despise the Klingons.” Such manipulation would not seem out of place in The Next Generation, and so My Enemy, My Ally almost foreshadows that development. In fact, Ael finds herself confronting a changing of the guard on Romulus, the emergence of a more aggressive and less scrupulous generation hungry for power and success.

“That courtesy, honor, noble behavior should be cast aside by the young, perceived as a useless hindrance to expediency, was bad enough,” we’re told. This is a younger breed of Romulan willing to forsake the “straightforward dealing that had been tradition for four thousand years of civilization” for a tactical advantage; a generation “who wanted everything right now, who wanted the easy, swift victories.” As we’re told, “They wanted safety, security, a world without threats, a universe in which they could swoop down on defenseless ships or planets and take what they wanted.”

This seems more in keeping with the portrayal of the Romulans in The Defector or Redemption or Unification than with anything that appeared in the classic Star Trek. Of course, Duane couldn’t have known this when she wrote My Enemy, My Ally. In fact, the treacherous Romulan Ambassador of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was still seven years away. However, reading the book now, after two decades of the Romulans from The Next Generation, it almost seems to foreshadow the end of the era of honour that Ael harks towards.

Duane even hints at a plausible enough explanation for this cultural shift. The defining technological attribute of the Romulan Star Empire was the advent of cloaking technology, used in Balance of Terror to simulate a submarine warfare movie. The idea had been so uniquely Romulan that the Klingons first used a cloaking device in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, released the same year as My Enemy, My Ally. Although the cloak was an important piece of Star Trek lore (so important that Kirk stole one in The Enterprise Incident), it was also a distinctly Romulan piece of Star Trek lore.

Technological advancements have a massive influence on the way that we think, and the way that culture develops. It’s no coincidence that an early sequence set on board the Enterprise features the advent of “4D Chess”, a game using technology that seems remarkably similar to cloaking:

Harb had programmed the table’s games computer so that a player could vanish desired pieces from the cubic, for a period of his own determination, and have them reappear later—if desired, in any other spot made possible by a legal move. Pieces “timed out” in this fashion could appear behind the other player’s lines and wreak havoc there.

Naturally, this changes the very way that chess is played. This is an interesting thematic overlap with The Final Reflection. In The Final Reflection, Ford used games as an interesting way to explore the psychology of an alien species. Klingons learned to appreciate and understand their enemies by playing their games.

So affording Kirk and his crew the opportunity to play a game based around concepts unique to the Romulan Empire, Duane is able to grant us a nice and subtle insight into just how radically the cloak might change Romulan cultural values:

But this innovation had not merely expanded the usual course of play. It had also completely changed the paradigm in which chess was usually played. Suddenly the game was no longer about anticipating the opponent’s moves and thwarting them —or not merely about that. It was now also a matter of anticipating a whole strategy from the very start: a matter of estimating with great accuracy where an opponent would be in fifteen or twenty moves, and getting one’s pieces there to ambush him—while also fooling the opponent as to where one’s own weak and strong areas would be at that time.

The cloak is a technology built around deception and misdirection. A technological advance like that would obviously undermine a culture based around honour “straightforward dealing.” It’s telling that the Klingon-centric stories that rely on cloaking devices (The Search for Spock, The Undiscovered Country, The Rules of Engagement and even Star Trek: Generations) are all built around undermining the ideal of Klingon honour.

And so, this literal cloak and metaphorical dagger represents a shift in Romulan culture, to the point where the types of characters that Ael condemns seem quite similar to Sela or Tomalak:
They will take advantage of the disorganization and mistrust of such times, use them to expand, to enlarge the Empire at the cost of both sets of enemies. And when one of the great powers has reduced the second to slavery or powerlessness, then the new voices in the Senate will cry out for war. “Hit the winner now, while he is weak,” they’ll say. More war, more death. Perhaps even victory —but, O, dishonorable, vile—

Of course, My Enemy, My Ally does more than inadvertently foreshadow the future characterisation of the Romulan Empire. It also builds on their portrayal in the classic Star Trek series. As Duane herself has noted, the depiction of Romulan culture here draws from the original Roman influence on the aliens in episodes like Balance of Terror:

“I’ve been following what I believe to be Dorothy Fontana’s lead, mostly, and thinking of [the Rihannsu] (to a certain extent) as Romans,” she said, “but Romans caught in that difficult post-Republican period, when memories of a smaller, simpler Republic keep jostling up against the needs of a growing Empire.”

However, since the story of Romulus and Remus is a human story, Duane has a flash of genius and reveals that the Romulans don’t actually call themselves Romulans, and didn’t name their twin planets (either intentionally or accidentally) for a human myth. It does seem just a tad unlikely that there would be twin planets of a Roman-like civilisation named Romulus and Remus, and Duane smartly acknowledges that “Romulan” is simply a human word. The real term, the word giving its title to the series of novels written by Duane about their culture, is Rihannsu.

So the Romulans are established and defined as an ancient and honourable people. Ael asks McCoy, “What honor is there in taking one’s enemies by stealth, giving them no chance to fight back, and then binding and torturing and slaughtering them like animals?” We discover that Romulan ships have no aft weapons. The rear of the ship is the point “where an unmodified Warbird could not fire.” Indeed, the novel even makes some observations that fit better with the Klingons of The Next Generation era. We’re told that “a Rihannsu without a house was no one and nothing.”

Much like The Final Reflection, My Enemy, My Ally embraces cultural relativism. It acknowledges that a culture can grow up with different values than the Federation while still existing as a legitimate and functional society. John M. Ford even hinted in The Final Reflection that the Federation was neither as advanced nor as morally superior as they might like to claim. Duane’s take on the Federation is not nearly as subversive. She accepts the observation that the Federation is an ideal society, but she explores how the Federation can afford to be so content.

After all, the Federation doesn’t have an economy. It exists in a post-scarcity future. Sure, the ships need to trade dilithium, but replicators have eliminated hunger and money doesn’t seem to exist within the organisation. It’s idealistic, but it is held together by the fact that nobody wants for anything, so there are less likely to be conflicts of interest. Everybody can get along and be friendly to one another because everybody gets to what they want anyway.

Duane cleverly suggests that Federation’s material wealth not only allows for its utopian ideals, but also that it fosters resentment in less economically successful galactic powers. Of the Vulcans, Ael reflects that, “like all Federation peoples, they were hopelessly spoiled—rich, soft, and unable to take care of themselves.” She even reflects on human attitudes to Romulans, and understands that some of their perceptions are based on an inability to relate to a struggling galactic power. “No wonder they understand us so little, who are so poor. Perhaps they don’t even understand the anger that the hungry feel when the full go by, unthinking…”

Indeed, Duane offers up her own slightly subversive twist on the Star Trek mythology, by vaguely hinting that the Romulans might not have been the aggressors in the famous Earth-Romulan Wars, and that the victory of humanity in that conflict was responsible for shaping the Romulan psychological character, pulling a clever twist on the classic “create your own villain” cliché:

For thousands of years the Rihannsu had not dreamed of any other life in the universe; even Vulcan had become almost a legend. But then came the days of starflight, the rediscovery of other species, and the First War that resulted in the setting up of the Zone. What had been mere ignorance and isolation turned rather suddenly into a politically-based xenophobia, the idea that anything not Rihannsu would most likely either shoot at you or steal from you.

Damn Federation. Always screwing things up. It’s a clever little twist, and one that makes the Romulans relatively easy to understand, by allowing us to see the Federation throw their eyes, and understanding that the Federation impacts their culture just as much as they meddle in Federation affairs.

While John M. Ford tended to craft the Klingon Empire in The Final Reflection from next-to-nothing, it’s remarkable how clearly and effectively My Enemy, My Ally builds on the little traces of continuity established in Star Trek. For example, Duane actually justifies the abundance of anonymous Romulan commanding officers featured in the classic Star Trek, turning a plot point into a racial characteristic. Explaining why the officers in The Balance of Terror and The Enterprise Incident were reluctant to share their names, Duane invents the notion that Romulans believe that names have power and – as such – are reluctant to share them with outsiders.

Duane also does an excellent job connecting the Romulans with the Vulcans, something that Star Trek did relatively little of outside The Balance of Terror. Sure, the shared racial histories became a plot point in episodes like Reunification and Kir’Shara, but the franchise never really developed the connection between the two. Here, Duane scores a number of fascinating thematic points. Indeed, she effectively establishes the contrast between early Vulcan and Romulan encounters with humanity. Humanity defined both species, but in very different ways.

Throughout the book, Duane hints that the Romulans and the Vulcans are not as different as they might like to think. Observations about Romulan codes of honour are juxtaposed against discussions of “the ferocious, unconditional Vulcan loyalty.” We discover that the Vulcans share the Romulan fascination with the power of names, even naming the Intrepid after a ship destroyed in The Immunity Syndrome. “There was no tampering with names.”

And still, despite the fixation on developing Romulan characters and Romulan culture, My Enemy, My Ally is still very much a Star Trek story – albeit it one with a somewhat broader perspective. Part of Duane’s initial idea for the project was to offer a bit of a subversion of a common Star Trek trope, and it’s telling that her development of the Romulan Empire is just one half of the inspiration for the project, balanced with an attempt to offer a strong female foil for Kirk.

According to Voyages of Imagination: The Star Trek Fiction Companion:

My Enemy, My Ally was one of those story ideas that sort of creeps up on you while you’re not looking. As far as I can do, it did this in two pieces. First, the nature of the relationship between the Romulans and the Vulcans had been on my mind for some time as something that needed some investigation: the hints and suggestions dropped during the course of the original-series episode The Enterprise Incident was tantalizing. But, along an entirely different line, I was becoming aware of a long-delayed reaction to the frequent portrayal of Kirk as the relentless ladies’ man who went cutting a swath—without much resistance—through the feminine contingent of Star Trek characters. Somewhere along the line I’d started thinking, ‘I wish somebody would drop a woman into this man’s path that would give him a run for his money.

Duane has done an excellent job throughout her Star Trek work of creating a sense of logical progression. For example, Dark Mirror is about the fall-out of Mirror, Mirror, before Crossover revisited the same idea. Here, we discover a Horta crewmember on board the Enterprise, creating the impression that Starfleet itself is changing and evolving – that The Devil in the Dark was just the first step in relations with the Horta.

There’s even a cheeky acknowledgement of the increasingly popular phenomenon of “slash” fiction, pairing two fictional characters up as a romantic couple. The trend actually started with Kirk and Spock, as Duane alludes to her. When Kirk comments he might as well hold hands with Spock and McCoy, McCoy confesses that he would be fine with that. He advises Kirk, “But watch it with Spock. People start the damndest rumors about this ship’s crew, even without provocation…” I bet they do.

Duane also cleverly uses her novels to create aliens that could never have been created on television at the time, taking advantage of the medium to tell a story that would require a massive special effects budget. Televised Star Trek has been somewhat restricted in what it could show on screen, and this creates the impression of a universe that is (broadly speaking) relatively homogenous. Humanoid bipeds who breathe oxygen are about as far as the budget would stretch. Unconfined by a budget, Duane can go wild. And it’s a massive shame that editorial occasionally felt it had to hem in that ambition and creativity.

At the same time, Duane seems to concede that revisiting old Star Trek plot devices and stereotypes is a relatively unfulfilling ambition for a writer. Creators like Gene Roddenberry and Richard Arnold seemed to believe that the books existed to offer substitute television stories, to tell the kind of tales that would appear on a Star Trek show. I’m not a fan of this approach, finding it too narrow-minded and restrictive. And I suspect that Duane feels the same way.

The book features the Enterprise on a generic exploration mission, and Duane has a great deal of fun pointing out that this is business as usual. Kirk notes in his log, sarcastically, “Mr. Spock is ‘fascinated’ (so what else is new?)” He then offers an affectionate jab at Checkov:

Nothing to report but still more hydrogen ion-flux measurements in the phi Trianguli corridor. Entirely too many ion-flux measurements, according to Mr. Chekov, who has declared to the Bridge at large that his mother didn’t raise him to compile weather reports. (Must remember to ask him why not, since meteorology has to have been invented in Russia, like everything else.)

This is all old-hat. It’s an excuse for old in-jokes so familiar that we don’t even need to see the characters deliver them. Kirk himself is so familiar these exchanges and clichés that he can even point them out to the audience. It is a little stagnant, and Duane seems to be acknowledging that confining the tie-in novels to collections trite fanboy-pleasing tropes is self-defeating.

Star Trek is not about Mr. Spock saying “fascinating” or Checkov boasting about Russia. It’s about exploration, and strange new worlds. Tie-in novels represent a unique opportunity to explore those worlds – as seen here and in The Final Reflection. Duane really is among the most consistent of the Star Trek novelists because she has a wonderful range. She can balance the familiar characters and bold new ideas, and is smart enough to realise that the former can’t sustain a novel on their own.

My Enemy, My Ally is a fascinating exploration of one of the most iconic Star Trek aliens, and it’s a great read. It doesn’t matter that a lot of Duane’s notions about the Romulans have been overwritten or ignored, the book is a strong enough read on its own terms to justify a look. It’s well thought-out and remarkably clever, offering a unique glimpse at the politics of the Star Trek universe, the kind of thing that the live action show could never have gotten away with at the time.

You might be interested in our other reviews from the first season of the classic Star Trek:

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16 Responses

  1. “Indeed, the Romulan culture hinted at on the classic Star Trek gels with the portrayal of Klingons in The Next Generation, while the untrustworthy and duplicitous Klingons from Friday’s Child and Private Little War feel like progenitors for the Romulans of The Next Generation, fermenting political unrest rather than directly combatting their opponents.”

    Yes, except (and the risk of getting nitpicky) that it’s a different kind of honor. The Romulans in Balance of Terror had the stereotypical soldier’s honor, in the sense of duty to home and country and all that. Whereas the Klingons often came off as having “honor” in the Three Musketeers, you-bumped-into-me, I-must-now-challenge-you-to-a-duel-or-be-thought-a-pussy kind of way. The Romulan soldiers also aren’t particularly eager for bloodshed (though it’s implied that their leaders are) and they’re not concerned with glory either (the one person who is gets chewed out and reduced in rank for endangering the ship and the mission) – again, two significant differences from the TNG Klingon warriors who often came off like macho, posturing street gangs rather than professionals doing their job.

    I appreciate the review, because I always thought the Romulans were at their best in the two TOS episodes and became much more bland over the course of TNG and DS9 (the less said about Nemesis, the better). I’d never heard of the Rihannsu novels before, and will definitely look for them now, because I think I’d probably be one of these people who prefer them to the direction the Romulans took on television.

    • I recommend it. Along with The Final Reflection, which will also be getting a tie-in treatment, it’s one of the few Star Trek books I would unreservedly recommend. There are other great ones, but these two are really the gold standard for demonstrating what tie-in fiction is capable of doing. I wanted to explore some of the tangential Star Trek material, along with the episodes of the television show, so I could point curious people towards or away from certain tie-ins worthy of attention along particular themes.

      And fair point on the distinction between Romulan honour and that of the later Klingons, although I always got the sense that Mark Lenard’s Romulan Commander was the exception who proved the rule. The officer he demoted was clearly spoiling for a fight, and a chance to “honour” himself against the Federation, so I kind of figured that both the leaders and the youth too young to remember the horrors of war were anxiously waiting for an excuse to start a war. Obvious one feeds into the other, and it’s an extension of the soldier’s honour you mentioned.

      But you’re right, there is a very clear difference between the “do our race proud” honour of the early Romulans and the loud “remember my name in glory” honour of the later Klingons.

      That said, I am actually one of the few people who likes the Romulans from The Next Generation. I never saw how Klingon culture could sustain itself in the mid- to long-term – which, to be fair, Ronald D. Moore did explore on Deep Space Nine as the political instability of the Klingon Empire made it seem like the most dangerous power block in the Alpha Quadrant. In contrast, the Romulan politics of episodes like The Enemy and The Defector (and even The Mind’s Eye and maybe Unification) seemed a little more plausible as the conduct of a viable political power block standing in opposition to the Federation.

      Pretty much like a prototype for what Deep Space Nine did much better with the Cardassians. Which meant that, when it came to Deep Space Nine, the Romulans became largely redundant. You can see that in the show’s third season, where it seems like they want to use the Romulans, but can’t figure out how. They worked a lot better in the sixth and seventh season when the Federation basically rode roughshot over them, demonstrating that perhaps Starfleet’s foreign policy is just as manipulative and imperialist as its political opponents.

      In the Pale Moonlight and Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges worked perfectly as mirrors of Ronald D. Moore’s early Romulan episodes, except this time it was the Federation which was the duplicitous and manipulative force. Of course, it’s been a while since my last rewatch, so I’ll be curious to see whether that still holds up.

      • Just discovered this website and am loving your thoughtful Trek reviews. I’m glad to see that SOMEBODY else enjoyed the Romulans in TNG and even DS9. For years, they were the only effective foil for stories about political manipulation and Cold War-style thrillers. I thought “Face of the Enemy” actually worked well in setting up tension between the Roman military and the Tal Shiar.

        I think you’re right in that the Cardassians ended up making Romulans redundant, but still wish DS9 had found a way to use them more effectively. The key thing that struck me about the Romulans is that – on an individual level – they always seemed the most reasonable of the major powers. There are numerous scenes in which individual Romulans express preferences or sentiments not alien to those of the Federation. In TNG’s “The Chase,” it’s the Roman commander who seems to most appreciate the scientific discovery.

        Yet, unlike Cardassians, who are expansionist, Romulans have always been isolationist. In fact, they’re really the only major isolationist race in the series. Even after all this time, there’s still been such little cultural contact between the Federation and Romulans. It’s portrayed as a big deal in DS9’s Season 7 in “Inter Arma…” when a Federation delegation goes to Romulus. The main characters seem to know far more about Cardassian and Klingon cultural quirks than Romulan. I wish the show had found a way to tell stories about cultural contamination or interaction. Maybe exploring how even people with similar attitudes towards science and family can be separated by a cultural gap.

      • Thanks Arnold! Hope you continue to enjoy! 🙂

  2. I wanted to tell you this is a great site. The reviews are always interesting. There a few things I wanted to discuss about the Romulans. It is interesting that you bring the concept of honor to state as the Romulan code of honor. In your review you mention how both the show and Diane Duane use the comparison of the Roman Empire and the Romulans. Honor in Ancient Rome was defined by the duty the empire just as the Romulans in the series. Duane develops this further than either series ever went. She still keeps the historical similarities while keeping them original by going farther than this.

    Your review did not mention the poem about the Romans this is reprinted on the page in the middle of the novel. This is Duane’s most
    most direct analogy to the historical Romans in the whole book. You should consider adding that part since it reinforces much of what you said. A very nice review of a very good novel.

    • Thanks Zeno.

      I try to balance my sampling from the work. Don’t want to take too much – after all, it’s well worth buying. But you’re right, the poem is insightful, and an indication of just how well Duane crafted her version of the Romulans.

      • There are only two minor weaknesses to the novel which is otherwise well written. The battles scenes in the last part of the book go on longer than they needed to and the final last minute escape on the Vulcan ship was a bit too much. Between the battles on the station and the other battle going during the enterprise it was a bit overkill. Second and this is a personal thing here but Mccoy being able to beat Spock’s chess game so easily was a bit out of character. I cant even remember Spock insulting Mccoy either.

      • I don’t know. I didn’t mind the chess game. After all, Kirk beat Spock in Where No Man Has Gone Before, but that was before McCoy was created to channel Kirk’s irrational and human side. In the second pilot, the dynamic was logic-against-emotion with Kirk and Spock representing the two extremes.

        I’d argue that McCoy’s victory makes sense here when you keep in mind that he replaced Kirk in the logic/emotion divide, with Kirk acting as an arbitrator between the two halves. McCoy wins here by the same narrative logic which allowed Kirk to win in Where No Man Has Gone Before. It’s just that their roles in the story have changed.

  3. Well,it was not so much the fact that McCoy could defeat him but that it was so such a easy victory. Also I can’t remember Spock getting any insults in on Dr McCoy even though McCoy says something in one scene.

    • It’s a fair point, I suppose. But I always figured that Spock would be either easy or impossible to beat – the moment he figures out what you’re doing, the match would be over. Whereas, if he can’t, it’s plain sailing.

  4. Actually the reason I wanted to post here was to ask you about the Roumlan Way,which is the sequel this book. It is very good and was written with Diane’s husband. Though the difference the between the two books did not occur to me earlier.the Roman metaphor is hardly used it all in that book. Still,it gives a excellent history of the Romulans that would have been better that was developed. I haven’t read the later Romulan novels Diane Duane did. Have you?

    • Not yet. I’ve got The Romulan Way on my reading list for December, as a companion piece to The Enemy or maybe The Defector.

      • The Defector is a really underrated episode. While I would not put it as the best Next Generation episode,which Matt Mckinley did in his Youtube it is still a great episode. It does however contradict My Enemy My Alley. Picard says the concept of a Romulan defector is unprecedented which goes against this novel and the rest of the Duane’s Romulan series.

      • Ah yes, but I was never too concerned with canon and non-canon. I’m a big fan of the whole “your own personal canon” dealio. But I think there is a heavy influence, just as you can see the influence of Ford on some of Moore’s Klingon work.

  5. Actually one review said her last book tries to link her Romulan’s to the The Next Generation. How is that is possible given what we see in the Defector is seems hard to do. By the way,are you rereading Romulan Way or is this your first time?

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