Best Destiny by Diane Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Best Destiny turns back the clock and sheds some non-canon light on the teenage years of one James Kirk, the story covers two separate time frames with the first showing James as a rebellious teenager and the other as a Captain looking at the end of his career. The focal point is the planet Faramond and the events that surrounded the discovery of a race vastly more technically advanced that the Federation and who seem to have as a species packed their bags and vanished into history.
Commander George Kirk with help from Captain Robert April arrange to take Jim on a cruise to Faramond for a ribbon cutting event in the hopes he can reach his wayward son before anything too serious happens. Jim is playing fast and loose with rules and regulations and roping other people into his games, it's only a matter of time before events spiral out of control and something happens that can not be fixed. The kicker is that Captain April is taking out the Enterprise and even the already jaded Jim Kirk is in awe of her beauty and power, of course he tries not to show it. April, George, Jim and some crew take one of the shuttles as Enterprise makes a call on another world but the shuttle is ambushed by pirates, badly damaged and with casualties Jim has to learn some very painful lessons in what it means to really lead people and be prepared to sacrifice all for the benefit of those who may never even know what you did.
Decades later the constitution class USS Enterprise is coming to the ends of its life and on its final voyage its sensors pickup an energy surge which is only associated with the explosion of warp engines. The source is a starship in the Faramond system, records indicate it's likely to be the Excelsior Class USS Bill of Rights under the command of Captain Alma Roth (former officer under Kirk). Captain Kirk does not believe in coincidences and provides records to both Spock and McCoy on events so long ago and orders his ship towards Faramond. James Kirk is again looking at life that may not hold many more wonders and has to face his mirror image yet learns that the journey is never going to be complete, there will always be one more world, one more civilisation and that will be enough to spur on this Captain, this ship and this crew.
Best Destiny by Diane Carey is one of the novels that played a part in my own personal Star Trek canon, I like this Jim Kirk (similar it has to be said to the Kelvin Universe) and no question that drawing upon her own novel Final Frontier helped greatly in continuity. The novels asks many questions of its core characters and the two timelines with varying technologies and challenges work well for the narrative and while the experienced Captain Kirk and Enterprise are pure Trek it's perhaps the young Jim with his father and April that hold the limelight. This era of Star Trek and Diane's own take on a young Kirk may not be for everyone but it works for me.
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