Star Trek: Enterprise: The Romulan War: To Brave the Storm - Michael A. Martin The Earth-Romulan War of a century ago (or a century hence, depending on your temporal POV) is one of the iconic “historical” events of the Star Trek universe. As Mr. Spock explains to the Enterprise crew in “The Balance of Terror,”* it was a war fought “with primitive atomic weapons, and in primitive space vessels, which allowed no quarter, no captives. Nor was there even ship-to-ship visual communication.”

That latter fact is hedged quite a bit in this novel and its predecessor as the Vulcan’s know precisely who Earth is fighting and Earth’s Starfleet Intelligence knows from whence the Romulans come.

To Brave the Storm follows on from the story told in Beneath the Raptor’s Wing and the reservations I had about that book continue here, with a few additions:

1. In this novel, the Romulans’ computer virus that allowed them to take over enemy ships in the first book has become largely useless. I remember from Beneath the Raptor’s Wing that Earth had very nearly overcome this handicap but I don’t recall that they had resolved it by the end of that novel so its absence in this one comes as a shock.

2. I never bought the idea that Trip could pass himself off as a Vulcan or as a Romulan for any length of time. Kirk could get away with it in “The Enterprise Incident” because he only had to pretend for the time it took him to find the cloaking device and get off the flagship with it. Trip, however, has to spend years on Vulcan and months among Romulans. He doesn’t even appear to be trying to be Vulcan as he continues to use English idioms in his conversations. And where is he getting the drugs that keep his blood looking the proper Vulcan green?

A much more realistic (if I can use that term) depiction of a deep-cover Federation agent can be found in Diane Duane’s The Romulan Way (Star Trek, #35).

3. It was established in “The Balance of Terror” that the Romulans do not surrender and would rather blow their ships up than suffer capture but in To Brave the Storm they are genocidally suicidal. Not once but three times does a Romulan commander slam his ship into an inhabited planet at translight velocities.

I can’t imagine that the Romulan government would be supportive of a policy that rendered so many potentially useful worlds useless. Take out as many of your enemies as possible? Sure. But leave the real estate intact.

4. Too many last minute rescues. At the climactic Battle of Cheron, the Earth fleet is saved twice by the sudden appearance of allied ships. I think it would have been a much stronger story if Earth could have won the battle on its own or the Klingon, Andorian and Vulcan allies had arrived before the battle (it still would have surprised the Romulans).

4b. In a related vein, I don’t like the fact that the canonical ST universe introduces the Klingons so early in the chronology. Granted, it’s ambiguous in the original series when they were first encountered by humans but I subscribe to the idea that it occurred after the Earth-Romulan War.

In general, Martin is a competent, if not great, writer but I do have to highlight one of the worst similes I’ve ever read:

Abandon ship? So that our enemies can swoop in and pick off our escape pods like so many lobe-finned in’hhui along the northern Apnex shore? (p. 288)

All is not complaint, however.

Two things that I thought Martin dealt with reasonably well (though not as fully as I would have wanted) are Archer’s misgivings about his role in the war and T’Pau’s struggle with reconciling Surak’s teachings with events in the real world. Archer wants to be an explorer and diplomat above all else and it pains him to find himself in the role of soldier. And T’Pau reluctantly recognizes that the Romulans are not amenable to discussing peace. Vulcan either aids Earth now or it too will stand alone when its cousins finish with the humans.

I cautiously recommend this book and it’s prequel to the Trekkies amongst my GR following. It’s not great but if you need something to read before bedtime or you’re decompressing after a particularly hard book, it may do.

* When I went to Ireland in the mid-'90s, I was part of a tour group that included Paul Schneider and his wife, who wrote that episode (though his wife didn't get any of the credit).