Book Review: ‘Kahless’ by Michael Jan Friedman

June 8, 2021 at 5:00 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Kahless, is a standalone novel by Michael Jan Friedman which was released in July of 1996.

For the last several months I’ve been focusing on big series such as the Destiny Trilogy, the Fall series, and the Prey trilogy. I thought it might be worth picking up a standalone and that’s exactly what I got in Kahless. However, reading this book made me realize why I appreciate reading series so much. 

This book is essentially two stories in one book that alternate back and forth. The main story in the modern age focuses on Kahless the Clone and his goals to unmask a plot to assassinate Gowron, the current leader of the Klingons. Kahless is joined by his friends Captain Jean Luc Picard and Worf, son of Mogh, as well as some other important characters. This feels like a standard Star Trek political thriller story, albeit a very small one. This plotline was somewhat predictable, but it allows the reader to learn about Klingon culture by visiting with various Klingons. All too often, stories focus on Worf or other main Klingons who just provide exposition about Klingons, but we rarely get to just spend time in the Klingon culture. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.

The other part of the story takes place in the historic age, nearly 1,500 years earlier. In this story, Kahless the Unforgettable rebels against the tyrant Molor and explains how he became the Kahless we know of. This reads very much like a diet fantasy story. There were action scenes, rebels and leaders, taverns and serving maids, forbidden love, and much more. I felt almost like I was reading one of the Forgotten Realms books. As a big lover of fantasy novels, this definitely hit the sweet spot. It’s very hard to bring in fantasy elements into a sci-fi story and not be cheesy or just a Star Wars ripoff. Friedman does an excellent job here, and he keeps the reader on the edge of their seat in all instances. 

There is a subplot about a Klingon who finds an ancient text refuting the legend of Kahless, and this causes Kahless the Clone to have a crisis of confidence. Likewise, Worf and his son Alexander also have a crisis of confidence, and I liked that Friedman had an element of depth relating to religion and faith. This is what distinguishes good media tie-in books from great ones, is the depth that they can add.

Unfortunately, there is one glaring problem with this book. It’s just too short! The characters had great ideas behind them, but they weren’t fleshed out enough. As soon as the crisis of confidence came, it ended quickly because the book was so short. The plot moved along entirely too fast, and needed more individual character moments. If this had gotten the Prey treatment, and had become a full trilogy, with each book containing flashbacks and scenes in the past and the present, this could have been a top notch, best of the best story. Unfortunately, as with most tie-in authors, Friedman was limited in how much he could write, and thus the story feels “complete”, but yet not satisfactory. 

As a whole, this is a very enjoyable book to read, and it truly was impressive how much plot Friedman fit into this story. Unfortunately, the lack of length and true depth kept me from putting this in my favorites category. Nevertheless, I did enjoy this a lot, so I give Kahless 4 out of 5 stars. Good job Friedman.

My next series will be the A Time To series, the first major post Nemesis-written series taking place between Insurrection and Nemesis. The first book is A Time to be Born by John Vornholt.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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