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Starfleet's most sacred commandment has been violated. Its most honored captain is in disgrace, its most celebrated starship in pieces, and the crew of that ship scattered among the thousand worlds of the Federation...

Thus begins Prime Directive, an epic tale of the Star Trek universe. Following in the bestselling tradition of Spock's World and The Lost Years, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens have crafted a thrilling tale of mystery and wonder, a novel that takes the Star Trek characters from the depths of despair into an electrifying new adventure that spans the galaxy.

Journey with Spock, McCoy, and the rest of the former crew of the Starship Enterprise to Talin—the planet where their careers ended. A world once teeming with life that now lies ruined, its cities turned to ashes, its surface devastated by a radioactive firestorm—because of their actions. There, they must find out how—and why—this tragedy occurred and discover what has become of their captain.

406 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 1, 1991

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Judith Reeves-Stevens

43 books87 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 136 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,114 reviews3,552 followers
January 6, 2016


This is one of the best Star Trek novels that I ever read and easily the best one using only the crew of The Original Series, without counting crossovers novels.

I know that I need to read more books centering on the original crew, however, this novel Prime Directive will keep a place in the highest levels on my own personal Trek ranking ever.

A masterpiece written by the couple, Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

They crafted an intriguing mystery since the story began with the careers of the entire crew ruined but you don't know what happened, and along the narrative, you not only get to know what they are doing in the "present" of the story but also you will starting to get the whole picture of the disaster that happened in the "past" of the story and why the crew fell from grace.

I like a lot not only the scope of the story but also that instead of the usual formula in many of the TV episodes of The Original Series where only Kirk, Spock and McCoy get to do the important stuff, here, the rest of the main crew, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Chekov and even Chapel, have pivotal roles in the developing of the story.

The whole crew has an interesting part in the story, not only on the "present", but also in the "past" and of course, in the "third act" where they going to work together to resolve the mystery behind on the disastrous way that their Starfleet careers ended.


The story is set in the chronology of The Original Series between the end of the first 5-year mission and before the adventures pictured on The Animated Series, so you will get references about key situations and characters along the original run of the series but don't get intimidated if you don't much about it, if you do, you will enjoy it a lot, but if you don't, there aren't references that you need to understand for the current story.

A cool real scientific fact is that in the narrative is told about the discovery of fossilized lifeforms on Mars, and five years later of the original printing of this book, some scientists founded evidence of precisely that in an asteroid believed to be from there.

Another cool fact but about inside of the franchise is that Robert Orci, one of the writers of the film Star Trek of 2009, used scenes of this book for the process of casting actors, due that it's one of his favorite Star Trek novels.

One thing that I liked a lot about the form of writing this book is that the authors established that "starship" wasn't a term that it could apply to any space vessel but a specific term referring only to space cruisers from Starfleet. It's something silly and not important but I liked it.

So, if you want to read a novel from The Original Series with great character developing of the whole crew in an epic mission, definitely this is your book.

Profile Image for Jerry.
4,630 reviews57 followers
February 13, 2023
I'm a longtime fan of the Reeves-Stevenses, and it's books like this that made me one. Until recently, I hadn't read one of their novels in a while; now, I think I need to try out my old favorites again.
Profile Image for Bill Riggs.
400 reviews7 followers
August 27, 2022
Starfleet’s Prime Directive has been broken, the USS Enterprise is in pieces and her crew spread out among the galaxy. So begins this highly engaging and electrifying novel featuring the original Star Trek cast. Disgraced and banished, the Enterprise crew must find their way back together and solve the mystery of what really happened to cause the destruction of a planet and its inhabitants. Was it truly Kirk’s actions or was something far sinister involved?
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,918 reviews156 followers
January 6, 2023
In the story arc of Star Trek (the original series) the book "Prime Directive" is a seminal story. I am glad to say I have finally been able to add it to my collection.

Talin IV is a world under observation by the Federation. But the residents of Talin IV do not realize this. They haven't yet developed to the point where First Contact can be established and thus the Prime Directive (noninterference policy). The problem is Taliv IV stands on the verge of all out war.

Events occur where the Enterprise is blamed for violating this policy and leading to the destruction of the world. Kirk and his senior staff are kicked out of Starfleet and must try to find out what happened and repair their reputations.

An excellent story. Not only were the events epic, but the mystery of the war was also very interesting. A great Star Trek novel with a good emphasis on First Contact protocols and The Prime Directive that rules all. Highly recommended for Star Trek fans.
Profile Image for Clay Davis.
Author 3 books112 followers
November 6, 2012
I enjoyed the different character's life stories after their mission failed.
Profile Image for Mike Crate.
442 reviews5 followers
October 16, 2016
Prime Directive takes the reader on an interesting journey right from the start as we read about the failures of the Starfleet Constitution Starships and their five year missions including the loss of the Enterprise at Talin IV.
Since this novel is not an alternate reality or mirror universe then you are kinda derailed straight away but as you read the book and learn of the catastrophe then took place in orbit over Ralin IV and the subsequent crippling of the Enterprise it all falls into place. Prime Directive follows the consequences of what would be Captain Kirk's biggest failure and the ramifications throughout the Federation and Starfleet. The crew of the ship are blown to the four corners, some resign, some are charged and some stay within the fleet but at much lower rank. Of course Kirk having accepted fault and resigning is working his way back to Talin IV (now a restricted system) and during his journey reveals the details of the events to his latest employer. It is at this time we get to know exactly what was going on and the fact that this final mission of the Enterprise was far from a simple one as it interacted with the activities of the First Contact Office who prepare the Federation for first contact with a developing species on the verge of discovering they are not alone.
Prime Directive is many ways is more than an entertaining science fiction story it is an analysis of the politics and ethics of the Prime Directive which has featured to such a degree throughout Star Trek on tv and the movies. It's often been seen to be selectively implemented and worked around when required and the plot of this novel asks the question of why the Federation relies so much on what is explained to be a very complex and fluid calculation far beyond the basic explanation we have been given on the big and small screen.
I'll be honest and say I wasn't too keen on how this novel started but the hurdles and difficulties the crew of the Enterprise had to cope with really made the novel pay off bigtime. I don't believe that the mystery of Talin IV without the fallout amongst Starfleet would have paid off or have been as satisfying. I also have to say that the final few paragraphs of the story proper (not epilogue) had me surreptitiously wiping my eyes as the tears begin to flow, it was a very moving and heartwarming emotion triggered by the events occurring on the planet and the underlying belief that what Star Trek can provide is a template for what humanity should be striving for here on Earth and that if given the opportunity our children will lead our race to the stars and beyond.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
400 reviews21 followers
November 29, 2009
The Enterprise crew gone rogue, always a winner! These authors OWN the characters' voices, ST canon, and the sensibility of the original series. They're even genius at taking the cheese factor from the show and using it in homage. (Plot holes, Kirk skirt chasing, swashbuckling heroics, laughing on the bridge!) A pleasure to read.
Profile Image for Sean Carlin.
211 reviews14 followers
April 16, 2019
What all media tie-ins should aspire to, but so seldom do: Prime Directive doesn't read like a not-ready-for-primetime supplemental installment of a popular television/movie franchise -- a subpar cash-in like the dreadful Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off Slayer (read my review here) -- but a richly realized story in its own right that utilizes and capitalizes on its novelistic medium to boldly go where other iterations of Trek either haven't or can't; that this adventure was written for the page and not the screen is precisely what makes it so compelling and essential, as opposed to the ancillary and utterly noncompulsory experience typically afforded by these kinds of half-baked brand extensions. It should be required reading for all tie-in novelists: This is how you do it.

Star Trek: Prime Directive is an ambitious, nonlinear narrative (before nonlinearity was fashionable) that perfectly captures the tone of the original series, the unique voices and interpersonal dynamics of its characters (you can hear the actors enunciating the dialogue as you read it), and the series' commitment to using science fiction as an intellectual vehicle to explore moral, ethical, and philosophical issues (in contrast with the vacuous Star Wars wannabe and abject exercise in big-budget cosplay the franchise became under J.J. Abrams, or the pointless Easter-egg hunt known as Star Trek: Discovery). This isn't a television-sized adventure padded to fit a novel, but rather a story that was simply too big for any single episode or movie to accommodate (in which each character, it's worth noting, is assigned a valuable role -- a creative feat even the best TV shows and movies all-too-rarely accomplished).

Prime Directive is a (mercifully self-contained) story that forces the crew of the Enterprise to grapple with the ethical and philosophical complexities of their most sacrosanct spacefaring protocol, often invoked on the various television series but little-explored at the time this book was first published in 1990; the story puts a premium on Big Ideas over Big Spectacle (not that suspense is in short supply here!). The authors exploit the broader canvas the prose format offers them to present a nuanced exploration of the Federation's policy of cultural noninterference, yes, but they also use the additional real estate to enrichen the very universe of Trek itself.

For example: Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens spend time detailing how the gravity on alien planets has a visceral effect on the characters -- exactly the kind of nonvisual detail that just gets taken for granted on the show (that every M-class planet has a vaguely similar gravity and everyone can walk around nice and normal), but a novel affords a unique opportunity to depict how subtle gravitational variations from planet to planet make someone feel.

Or consider this passage on pages 49–50:

The Starfleet Lunar Hall of Justice in Oceanview was one of those peculiar government buildings that seemed to have no particular style, other than a quest for monumentalism. It was close to a century old and had been built in the twilight of Earth's cultural fascination with anything Centauran. Unfortunately, the fact that it had been built on the Moon under natural gravity -- long since augmented to Earth normal throughout the city's business sections -- had inspired the architects to alter the proportions of loadbearing arches whose original graceful dimensions had been dictated by a more massive planet. In addition, the building's airy roof gardens were situated five meters beneath the inner surface of a dingy green pressure dome instead of under spacious blue skies, further removing it from the Centauran ideals of open post-harmony defensism.

McCoy stood in the plaza before the ungainly structure, wondering how anyone could have become enamored of an architectural style that had arisen on a world where people spent most of their time burying things underground so they couldn't be detected by hypothetical enemies from space. That cultural paranoia, supported by fiber optic data transmission that prevented stray radiation from leaking out into space, had kept Earth's first expedition to another star from discovering there was an inhabited, technologically advanced civilization virtually next door until the first shuttles were almost ready to land. The members of the Federation are all so eager to find new life and new civilizations, McCoy thought, but when we find it, none of us wants to go first. Maybe that was the real reason for what had happened on Talin: not that Kirk had been engaged in brash adventurism, but that everyone else involved, including the First Contact Office, had been too cautious.

What seems like a throwaway pair of paragraphs in fact artfully relays so much scientific, historical, and cultural information that would only be implied by production design in the background on TV; it's another one of those little details you never consider when you watch the show -- you're just on an alien world and you don't really give much thought to how cosmic cultural crosspollination might've influenced its aesthetic development (and how misguided that appropriation might've been). How many novelizations or media tie-ins have you read that give such meticulous consideration to the larger sandbox in which they are playing? Most are simply concerned with transcribing the visuals -- of trying in vain to make a literary medium replicate a uniquely cinematic experience -- and cramming in as many too-clever internal cross-references as possible (here's looking at you, Discovery).

Even thirty years later, Prime Directive remains a worthy addition to the Trek canon -- and a great piece of science fiction in its own right, far superior to anything the cinematic/televisional branch of the franchise has produced in two decades -- that deserves to be rediscovered now more than ever, with Star Trek languishing in the custodianship of screenwriters who manifestly don't understand it nearly as well as Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens did. Good for them.
Profile Image for Rindis.
406 reviews48 followers
November 29, 2022
Prime Directive came out a bit after my primary era of reading Trek novels, money was tighter, and there were just too many coming out. But, it got a fairly good marketing push at the time, as one of the early (third, I think) hardcover novels. I have to say the current cover is much better than the original hardcover version.

So, we get a bit of a confused opening, as the action is over, and the crew of the Enterprise has been scattered in disgrace for a violation of the Prime Directive that ended in the type of disaster it was designed to prevent: a dead world. Most of the bridge crew has resigned, Uhura is under court martial, Bones hit an admiral... and the Enterprise is a wreck in orbit around a moon, with one warp engine having been ejected, and the other ruined and evaporating, possibly into subspace.

A common idea in SF for various FTL drives is that they can't be used too close to the gravity field of a large body; either it's impossible, or there is a great chance of something going wrong (like going to Pluto when you meant to go to the Moon, and your FTL drive disappearing in the process). Star Trek has been largely silent on the subject, implying that any such trouble is fairly minimal at most. But here its assumed that it's not mentioned because everyone knows not to do it—and the Enterprise is now the first ship to survive the attempt.

Once the stage is set, we get an extended flashback to the mission that caused all this. This gives us a look at how the Federation works to obey its own Prime Directive while studying developing worlds. There's some interesting bits showing how the inevitable slip-ups are generally accounted for. In fact, this section is generally well done, and would make a good, if not great, novel even without the tension of the coming disaster looming over it.

Star Trek at its non-philosophical best can deliver mysteries. Not necessarily murder mysteries, but related, where the plot and action are bent towards figuring out just what is really going on, what is our limited human viewpoint missing, and how to bring a solution to bear to what has been learned. The bulk of this novel is exactly this. Even before disaster, it is obvious that something is not right in the Talin system, and the desire to delve deeper helps the pages fly by.

A bit of expectation setting/trivia: The intro to the novel firmly says this is set during the final year of the original five-year mission. I was wondering, with all the dramatic career bits here, if it was intended to be the end of the mission and the reason for Enterprise's refit. No, an early novel claimed that bit of the timeline, and the Reeves-Stevens respect that claim. Current fan theory likes to instead place the novel a year earlier, and use it to explain some changes in the bridge crew and small differences in the bridge in The Animated Series.

The worst problem is that after the highly public nature of events depicted here, it's hard to imagine everyone picking up right where they left off, set for another adventure without acknowledging this one. Outside of that, this is a good, gripping Star Trek novel, and well recommended. At some point, I'm going to have to read Federation (which was the novel the authors originally pitched for this publication slot, but Paramount took years to be talked into it).
Profile Image for Kate.
1,470 reviews54 followers
August 9, 2015
This is hands down one of the best Star Trek novels I have ever read and I think even non Star Trek fans would maybe even like it. It's a tight science fiction read that deals with catastrophic consequences but also is a mystery of sorts.

Talin IV is in ruins. A nuclear wasteland and the crew of the Enterprise is at fault. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Chekov, and Sulu (a.k.a. The Enterprise Five) have all resigned over the disgrace of the events and Mr. Scott continues to work to repair the critically damaged Enterprise because his resignation requests are being ignored. Each crew member knows something isn't right about what happened on Talin IV and all feel they owe the planet something for what events did occur.

The Prime Directive is something that we get more exploration in later series but you don't get too much richness of it with the TOS crew. Here we get a study of the Prime Directive and how it works in Federation policy and politics (something this book is really rich in, you get a real feel for the Federation and what 'normal' life can look like) and what happens when the Prime Directive is broken. It is terrifying and fascinating and even though you know better of course you wonder if Kirk and company can pull themselves out of this mess.

Kirk and company are on their own but are working together even if they don't know it too. Each crewmember gets their moment and their own story. You have Kirk hopping from job to job dealing with his own guilt over the events but also his desire to do right, Spock's insanity and dramatics I won't even get into here but they are fabulous, Chekov and Sulu are together as always doing their own work as pirates, Uhura's saga being imprisoned just shows a lot more of Uhura then we usually get from her and McCoy's first appearance in the book in conversation with a kid is really, really eye opening. You actually learn a lot more about everyone in many ways.

It's a tight story, really really tight, and you will tear through this thing if you're left alone with it. I would have gotten through it faster if I hadn't left it at home by accident when I went on vacation. It is a fabulous Star Trek novel. Mystery, politics, friendship/teamwork, humour (it is perfectly placed to in a book that is so severe in subject matter), adventure. Everything to love about Star Trek is here.
Profile Image for Ian Wilson.
34 reviews3 followers
August 9, 2021
Judith and Garfield once again show why they are one of the strongest Trek writing teams. Great story and spot on charactisaton. A thoroughly well rounded and paced story.
Profile Image for Thom.
1,547 reviews47 followers
November 12, 2021
This is the second novel by Canadian couple Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens, the fifth or sixth of the larger "unnumbered" novels in the Pocket Books series. I liked it, but didn't love it - 4 of the 5 Star Trek novels I've read recently were better.

All of the main original characters are involved, dealing with a potential Prime Directive violation in their own way. This was interesting, and I liked the differing styles. My favorite was probably Scotty, who found his way around the letter of the law, as it were. While science fiction (or space opera), a sub-genre could be murder mystery, on a massive scale. I can't go further without spoiling it, but I found the ending a little unsatisfying.

Clearly the authors were watching (and or planning to write for) Star Trek: The Next Generation. Kirk muses about adding a bar to the ship, among other things that came to pass. The Kirk I remember wasn't that much of a visionary...

According to Memory-Alpha, the audio version is read by the late James Doohan, and must be abridged, at 2 hours 57 minutes. It would be awesome if somebody read the abridged parts between the narrations, editing it together. Most of the audio versions of Star Trek novels seem to be abridged - this would be a fair amount of work, but would preserve the original novels for that audience.
Profile Image for Jacen.
16 reviews
June 16, 2015
My first outing with the Star Trek franchise was a fruitful one. I've been hearing about this book for years. I finally picked it up. In a franchise that literally puts out a novel a month, this books still stands out. It had a perfect feeling of balance. Humor and actual science fiction. Character and action. It's a can't miss.
Profile Image for Meg Hannah.
38 reviews5 followers
August 26, 2009
This is one of my all-time favorite Star Trek novels. I've read it, oh, maybe 10 times? Maybe more? I savor it every time. I love the details and the portrayal of the characters, and the plot's good too.
Profile Image for Leo.
Author 3 books6 followers
September 24, 2008
This book is my favorite among the Star Trek derivatives. It is one that can be read countless times. If you are a fan of Star Trek the original series this is a must read.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,142 reviews98 followers
January 18, 2019
3.5 stars. Pretty good ST TOS story, and audio narration by James Doohan, AKA Scotty was a nice bonus.
Profile Image for Byron.
91 reviews14 followers
September 4, 2020
So far, this is my favorite Star Trek novel. It's really that good. Sad to imagine how many years the paperback was just lying in a box under my parents' house waiting to be read!

It is great for the following reasons:

1) Based on some good, hard sci-fi ideas.
2) Couched in a great in-universe Trek plotline that ought to be explored more often (the prime directive).
3) The classic characters are absolutely intact and authentically-rendered.
4) Entertaining, easy, well-paced read.
5) The story is epic and inspiring without being cheesy, and captures the most charming aspects of what made classic Trek and its characters special.

The hard science fiction aspect of this book relates directly to a grander, more philosophical conceit, and that deeper philosophical concept is pretty fascinating. It's also one that's fraught with spoiler-i-ness, so I'll try to be vague here. The book raises questions about a demoralizing truth of human nature: our tendency toward political friction and military solutions to problems, especially violent ones. Where does the intrinsic human desire for violence end, and the devil's handiwork begin? The book's answers are both troubling and a source of comfort. These concepts all function on multiple levels, both in-universe and real-world, as all good sci-fi should.

On a specific, Trek-specific level, the story is also quite special for how it deals directly with the time-honored ideal of the so-called "Prime Directive," usually referred to as the most important aspect of Starfleet's "General Order One." In this novel, the crew of the Enterprise is forced to interfere with a relatively primitive society on a planet called Talin VI with the best of intentions...with unthinkably disastrous results. At the start of Prime Directive, Kirk and his entire bridge crew have been forced to resign from Starfleet in disgrace.

The story is told in parts, the first part being the sad aftermath of the tragedy at Talin IV, during which we see the main characters ambling around in shame and righteous indignation at how the episode has been dealt with by Starfleet and the Federation Council. The second part is, in effect, a flashback wherein Kirk recalls the events that led him to his forced resignation and humiliation. Part three sees the crew reunited fighting for the truth, wraps up the mystery and answers important questions. A very brief fourth part functions as a sort of denouement.

Dealing with the Prime Directive is a lofty endeavor and this book is extremely successful in doing so. It highlights the most extreme indictment of the Directive's potential short-sightedness: an inclination to passively look on as a sentient race is in distress and dying, all under the guise of following orders. To pit Kirk and company against it is a match made in heaven, since Kirk as a character has always been synonymous with spontaneity and proactive humanitarianism, sidestepping bureaucratic niceties like rules and regulations when necessary to save lives, and his crew has always been famously loyal to him. If anyone is gonna get in trouble for ignoring the Prime Directive, Kirk's the guy. Facing the likelihood of an entire planet's destruction is an effective argument for calling Starfleet's golden rule into question, and it bolsters the validity of the impulsive decisions captains like Kirk are prone to making--while also raising some interesting questions about charity and humanitarianism in our own world.

The characters in this novel are extremely true to their most canonical portrayals throughout Trek, both on television and in film. Getting these iconic heroes just right is often my biggest complaint with Trek tie-ins, but Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens know them like family, and each and every one speaks in a voice that feels consistent and authentic. It's easy to image Shatner, Nimoy, Kelley, Doohan, Koenig, Takei, and Nichols speaking these lines and living out these scenarios.

The writing is, on the whole, serviceable if not exactly inspiring. I've yet to read a Trek novel with a high standard for beautiful prose, as lyrical language is not really a priority for these novels (but it would be nice if it were). There are some anachronisms, like the mention of people running around with stacks of paper documents to sign, and an unfortunate use of the phrase "oriental woman." But that said, the Reeves-Stevenses are much more adept at painting a picture and getting into the minds of their characters than some other Trek novelists out there (cough cough, L.A. Graf, cough), and the pacing is good. I thought the various story threads were woven together well and the action was fun to read, easy to envision. It's always a good time when reading a Trek novel to get scenes depicting zero gravity, as that sort of thing was generally far beyond the limits of what could be accomplished on screen in the first five series.

If you were only ever going to read one Trek novel, this would be my pick. It contains some intriguing, original, hard sci-fi ideas. The characters are written as true to canon as could be. But perhaps most importantly, it highlights the charisma, empathy, heroism, and camaraderie of the main characters beautifully, in a plot line that is tailor-made for celebrating what makes that classic crew so special. The breakdown and eventual rebuild of their morale is inspiring, and the framing convention of mankind's instinctual dream of exploring the stars is made romantic and beautiful without seeming maudlin.

I would happily recommend this novel to anyone who is an ardent fan of classic Trek, and furthermore to anyone who likes the franchise and enjoys reading. I haven't read a huge assortment of them yet, but I've read a few, and thus far I can say with conviction that Prime Directive is the strongest novel I've read in the franchise.
Profile Image for Adam.
538 reviews4 followers
September 19, 2021
It's probably only a 3.5, but it's too good for just a 3.

A rollicking ride through the Star Trek universe, the book gives you everything you might want from a classic TOS story. It truly checks all of the boxes, including giving ample time to all of the main cast.

Through a series of tragic events, it appears that Captain Kirk and the Enterprise have undermined the most important rule in Starfleet. Not only did he expose an under-developed world to the existence of higher technology before its inhabitants were ready, but he also caused catastrophic harm to the planet itself. The crux of the book then swirls around discovering exactly what happened so that the disgraced crew can be exonerated.

It's quite fun seeing everyone outside of their normal environs, including Sulu and Chekov sign on with Orion pirates. The highlight might be watching Scott navigate life under a pompous bureaucrat as he works to rebuild the Enterprise in hopes the rest of the crew can solve the mystery of what happened. And it wouldn't truly be a Star Trek book without coming into contact with aliens and technology that are well outside of their expertise and experience.

It might not be a classic Trek book, but it's a pretty good one - and I needed the mental break from some of the weightier stuff I've read this month.
Profile Image for Dean.
147 reviews
September 28, 2021
Ok…. Genocide a bit trivialized and I think the author wanted to make you not hate the “bad” ones. For me, get some courage like with the Borg. It is ok to not like some aliens. It was ok, moved a bit fast, but I still enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Greg.
418 reviews
August 15, 2020
A brilliant twist on the lives of our heroes with the book opening on James Kirk in disgrace. It takes a while to learn why but stick with it. Its one of Trek Lit’s finest.
Profile Image for Mariah.
29 reviews2 followers
September 11, 2014
If the rating system here on Goodreads allowed for half or quarter ratings, I would rate this novel 3.5 stars. I did not want to give it the full four stars, merely because the parts I really liked did not come to fruition until the last fourth of the book.

As stated in other reviews I have written, I love Star Trek fiction. There is something beautiful about expanding and conceiving anew for characters, plot lines, and universes of TV shows, books, and/or movies that have already been established. Fans, more often than not, can oftentimes be so devoted to particular fandoms that they end up contributing a plethora of new, impressive facets to the fandoms' brilliant crystal. (Wow, that was a really horrible metaphor...)

Prime Directive certainly contributes to that marvelous pool that is the extended universe of Star Trek. Taking place in the final year of the Enterprise's original five-year mission, the novel centers on the now-mangled starship's scattered crew, all struggling to recover from the unanticipated disaster that nearly obliterated an entire world. Uhura went to prison, and Captain Kirk, Science Officer Spock, Chief Medical Officer McCoy, and Helmsmen Chekov and Sulu all resigned from Starfleet. Chief Engineer Scotty remains on the Enterprise, trying to coax her back to life. Talin IV, the planet they had been tasked with observing — and not to interfere with — remains a scorched ball of rock, annihilated by the indigenous species' nuclear war...and Starfleet blames the command of the Enterprise for violating their ultimate principle: the Prime Directive.

This novel did not really become engaging until Kirk began recounting the events that occurred on Talin IV, which happens in "Part Two" of the book. Prior to that, however, I was spurred on by unanswered questions: Why was Talin IV before referred to as Kirk's World? Why had Uhura been sent to prison? Why did Chekov and Sulu join an Orion pirate ship? Why does everyone, sans his crew, seem to hate Kirk?

Luckily, all these questions were answered in time, and no loose ends were left by the end of the novel. There were instances where I felt horrified by what had happened on the planet, as well as how the species on the planet barely survived. Mostly, I was eager to find out how the Enterprise crew would come out the other side of the whole ordeal; I expected them to be rather unscathed, but I was pleasantly surprised that they had taken a beating from every conceivable side. It was not the typical experience they, and we fans, had ever endured before.

The ending startled me. I had not considered the explanation that became the root cause for the incidents on Talin IV; the idea had never crossed my mind, although it had certainly crossed Doctor McCoy's at the beginning of the story. I cannot say I was disappointed, however; the Reeves-Stevens have proved once again that they are devoted fans of the show, and that they are willing to craft intelligent, engaging plots that only further the characterization, and exploits, of the original Enterprise crew.
Profile Image for Clint Hall.
158 reviews4 followers
June 25, 2015
In this, my second foray into the realm of written Trek, I found myself very engaged. The voices of the characters felt quite faithful (although I had a few problems with Spock and sometimes Kirk--if I were to nitpick), the prose was wonderful and it felt like a perfect mixture of TOS and TOS movies. The additional characters were fun to read and the story itself really popped.

Without giving too much away, it was a unique but familiar revisit to a much missed franchise. I highly recommend it to fans of the show (there's more than one nod to TOS episodes and embryonic similarites to the TV show the two authors would be hired to one day shake up--the final season of Enterprise).
Profile Image for Heylin Le.
67 reviews8 followers
November 28, 2020
One of the best Star Trek TOS novels, this one has a solid plot, well-written characters, and some memorable scenes. What I like most about it is that it's not another generic space adventure, but a heart-touching story about the mysteries of the galaxy and how they are intertwined with our life. I find the second half of the novel especially page-turning, and the unraveling of the nuclear attack is gratifying, for it demonstrates that despite humans' search for knowledge, there are things in the universe that remain terrifying, enigmatic, and perplexing to us still.

Profile Image for Ingrid.
323 reviews3 followers
August 4, 2011
I heard a rumor that this might be the plot for the next Star Trek movie. It was excellent! I do not read Star Trek books as a rule, but I'm really glad I read this one. It was actually a really good mystery. The final reveal of what happened on Talin IV was very Star Trek. I would recommend this book!
Profile Image for Love of Hopeless Causes.
721 reviews44 followers
January 9, 2016
Solid entertainment, amusing, and well read--if a bit predictable.
Profile Image for Neil.
1,129 reviews9 followers
June 27, 2014
This is my second copy of this book - I had originally bought a copy when I was in my 'reading/collecting Star Trek books' phase in the late 80s/early 90s and remember enjoying it the first few times I read it. Then my copy disappeared ['borrowed', loaned out, lost in a move, I don't know what happened to it] and that was that. Until I came across another copy for $1 at Half Price Books. It had been a while since I had read it, so I bought it to give it a shot.

Isn't it funny how sometimes people give a backstory as to why they read something and others do not? It's almost like we're trying to excuse or justify why we read something. Anyway.

I definitely liked this one more than 'Federation.' That book was long and boring and blah, blah, blah. This one was good, interesting, funny, and, best of all, HAS GALACTUS IN IT!!!!! Who is Galactus? He is now a cosmic entity who survived the destruction of his universe and emerged into 'our universe' via the Big Bang. He tends to use a herald to help him find planets to consume for his insatiable hunger; he is seen as a necessary force in the universe [somehow a sort-of-balance between Eternity and Death, if you can figure that one out]. I wonder if the makers of the second Fantastic Four movie had read this book and thought it would be a better idea for Galactus than the comic book portrayal of him. Anyhoo.

I thought this book had a good flow to it, overall. It starts out with a brief 'intro' out of a 'history book' before jumping into the first section entitled 'aftermath.' In this section, we discover the Enterprise command crew has been scattered to the solar winds due to a terrible incident that occurred at Talin IV. I thought this part of the novel was well done, as it reveals the various levels of friendships and strengths of each character. I thought the authors did a great job with this part.

The second act involves the telling of what happened at Talin IV. We discover a planet on the cusp of interstellar travel and nearing the point at which the Federation can initiate a 'First Contact' mission and invite the planet to join the Federation. However, the planet is also geared for nuclear war, threatening the fragile peace on the planet. The Federation has never seen such a strange mix on the planet and sends the Enterprise in to help study the situation. Various anomalies occur, nuclear missiles are launched, and Kirk attempts to save the planet. The first attempt is successful; the second attempt, not so much.

The third act involves the crew of the Enterprise returning to the stricken vessel. This includes the 'normal crew' complement as well as the command crew. We learn that Spock has joined a radical group from Berkeley and we see Spock at his best when confronting the Vulcan Ambassador [not his father]. Kirk and his 'new lady friend/captain' have an amusing encounter with McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov on the way to Talin IV. Scotty discovers the Enterprise was deliberately attacked while trying to save the planet, but does not acquire enough information to exonerate the crew [despite Admiral Hammersmith giving him quite a bit of time to discover what happened to the Enterprise]. Scotty is shocked when Spock and the Talians arrive to take over the FCO facility on the moon. He is even more overjoyed when his friends and former crewmembers show up on the moon [i.e. - the Enterprise command crew]. Spock is able to provide enough evidence to Hammersmith that the crew of the Enterprise indeed did NOT violate the Prime Directive [based on the tenets of the Prime Directive]. Spock then shows Hammersmith enough that Hammersmith makes Scotty Captain of the Enterprise and allows the vessel to locate the source .

Part four: GALACTUS!!!!!! Well, not Marvel's 'Galactus', but a creature that survived the implosion of the 'previous' universe and creation of 'this universe.' This beastie is single-minded in its quest for food; it uses 'drones' to seed planets in order to turn any chosen planet into a source of food for this planet-eater. World devourer. Instead of 'killing' the creature [or attempting to kill it] the authors have Kirk take the high road and point out there are plenty of uninhabitable planets for this Insatiable Living Hunger that does not Cease. The Federation just needs to learn how to lead the beastie along to other planets devoid of intelligent, sentient life [such as a gas giant or two per system].

It was a fun book to read. The authors know their Star Trek history/canon; they use characters from various episodes of the 60s show as continuing members of the Enterprise crew. They also introduce Styles as a prissy, stuck-up Lieutenant eager to take control of the Enterprise after her refit is over. There were also clever moments of dialogue between the various characters as well as a hilarious moment where a Lieutenant suddenly realizes he has overstepped his bounds with a certain Admiral.

405 reviews122 followers
October 27, 2016
I'm not a Trekkie by any means, and I've never seen an entire episode of any of the Star Trek franchises that I know of. All I've seen is the J.J. Abrams set of movies that have drawn in non-Trekkies and discombobulated old-time fans. And yes, not being a Chris Pine fan, I found my first meeting with Capt. Kirk to be impetuous, pouty (he does have full lips for a man, no?), and not particularly bright.

But this book was probably, to date, the best sci-fi book I've read. Not being a long-time reader of the genre by any means, I found my forays to be corny (YA scifi), downright ridiculous (scifi romance), and straight-up confusing (fast-paced space opera). Not so with this book. The writers (the husband/wife crew) have managed to take a complicated setting, with a complicated background, and trimmed it all down nicely, even amidst a lot of technobabble. The book (at around 400 pages) covers a lot of ground, a lot of characters, and viewpoints from just about every main character. But not once did it falter in terms of the story. I plowed through the thing in a little over 2 days (weekdays, even!).

Since the story has a wiki page of its own, I won't go into detail. But I have to say that this was the first scifi story that didn't take itself too seriously -- there were plenty of extremely humorous situations and dialogue. I found myself admiring Capt Kirk for traits that the movie version simply didn't do justice. As for the the action -- I never found clarity sacrificed for speed. There was plenty of action, but none of it written in an ungrammatical or fragmented way as to render me completely out of the loop.

Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Aricia Gavriel.
200 reviews
July 12, 2018
Prime Directive has to be the best classic Trek I’ve read, and I'd readily recommend it, with 4.5 stars. It has an intriguing plot, the authors got the characters pretty close to “true,” and aside from some reservations I have about the story, and a few nits to pick regarding narrative line, the book flies. I won’t pick those nits here, or growl about the storyline, because such points are utterly subjective: one reader’s smoked salmon is another’s pellet of slug killer.

Prime Directive is quite the page-turner, and if one day your house should be burning down and you could only save 10 of your favorite Trek books before your dive out the door, you'd very likely grab this one. You have to love the way the book begins: Jim and crew have “Kirked” yet another planet, but this time Starfleet has busted them for it -- right back to civilian. Hell of a neat gambit.

Reading this novel early in my Trek-reading proceedings probably spoiled me, because I went on to read many more, only to discover how poorly crafted some of them can be. Perhaps I was unlucky enough to touch down on several iffy ones consecutively? I must have read a couple of dozen, then drifted away, because nothing ever delivered the goods I’d come to expect from Prime Directive. I’ll talk about a few of the others here on Goodreads, albeit it briefly … right now am trying (hard!) to plow through Diane Carey's Ship of the Line, and when I do, it's going to be a 2-star review. But I've also read some Trek beauts, so --!
Profile Image for Paul Spence.
1,073 reviews59 followers
April 29, 2021
I'm really sorry, fellow Star Trek fanse, but these books are turning out to be a real disappointment.
Once upon a time, I enjoyed the James Blish and Vonda McIntyre adaptations, and one really good Diane Duane TNG spin-off, and mainly thanks to Bookbub I keep chasing that memory in discounted Star Trek ebooks, and they keep turning out to be - politely – meh at best.

I ground through this one on the basis of the 5 star reviews, and the fact that it's a depressingly rare thing to find modern Trek content prepared to put Kirk front and centre. And I am. A fan. Of. The. Ever more meta. Mr Shatner.

But Heck's Bells this is awful.

For those who have been spared, it's Death By Exposition. The story is a pair of bookends around a notional TOS “4th season” episode in which there's a catastrophic alleged failure to follow the Prime Directive.

To make their story work, the writers invent what my ST experience says is a complete, new continuity involving Starfleet First Contact policy, the basis of all warp and Federation technology, and a system of assessment and monitoring of civilisations that are not quite ready for Prime Time.

The first half of the book, which was all I could stand to read, is a truly mind numbing series of redundant, deeply technical, explanatory conversations between people who already know stuff. Imagine the Phantom Menace opening but without the borderline racism or laughs.
The character writing, ironically with the exception of Spock, borders on "Have you ever actually SEEN the show?"

I think I have had enough of Star Trek novels.
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