Ghost-Walker by Barbara Hambly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The planet Elcidar Beta III is the center of a non-violent conflict as the Klingons and Federation look to ratify its inhabitants (Midgwins) as sentient or not, the results will determine if the planet can be exploited freely. The locals are non industrial and even eskew agriculture in favour of hunter/gathering thanks to a belief the world provides and it is sacrilege to attempt to force the land to provide more. However starvation and the associated fall out are beginning to have an impact and the leaders of the "warrens" are contemplating accepting help but traditionalist are in opposition.
Yarblis Geshkerroth the leader of the opposition and who has been responsible for killing a number of Klingons after they were culling and eating his people approaches Kirk and demands to telepathically read him, Kirk agrees and Yarblis goes away apparently satisfied of his intentions.
However when the crew beam back up it's not just Kirk who is materialised on the transporter pad and the ship and crew are unaware that their captain is no longer serving the interests of Starfleet and the Federation.
Ghost Walker offered up an interesting premise in how native populations which are not technological are treated by more advanced races and it's a reasonable narrative used to describe the intentions of the Empire and Federation. It's always interesting when an author chooses to give Kirk a serious love interest but it got quite dark when as always the relationship has to be broken and gratifying that we didn't get any real bad guys in the novel, bad things were done certainly but understandable if maybe a little extreme.
A worthy original series novel with a fascinating alien race (and individuals) with some fun look at the inner workings of the Enterprise and her crew.
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