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Literature / Star Trek: Klingon Empire

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A novel series and part of the Star Trek Novel 'Verse. Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido, it centres on the Klingons and follows the adventures of Captain Klag, commander of the Klingon Defense Force vessel IKS Gorkon.

There are currently four books in the series proper, though Klag and the Gorkon, along with many of the other characters, were actually featured in several prior novels before being promoted to their own series. Said series was originally named Star Trek: IKS Gorkon. Three Gorkon novels were released before the series was renamed Star Trek: Klingon Empire for the release of the fourth novel, A Burning House. The new title is an attempt to re-brand the series, allowing exploration of the entire Klingon Empire, though still through the eyes of the Gorkon crew.

  • A Good Day to Die
  • Honor Bound
  • Enemy Territory
  • A Burning House

Star Trek: The Brave And The Bold, book two and Diplomatic Implausibility also feature the characters of this series (and can now be considered prequels of a sort). Plus, Klag and his crew make cameos in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Relaunch and A Singular Destiny.

Short stories tied to the series include:

  • A Song Well Sung in the anthology Tales of the Dominion War.
  • loDnI'pu' vavpu' je in the anthology Tales from the Captain's Tablenote 
  • Family Matters, from the Mirror Universe anthology Shards and Shadows.

This series contains examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Klag, insofar as Klingon values and regulations permit, is extremely proud of his crew and does his best to encourage and uplift their efforts to succeed. Conversely, he also had no problem with killing anyone who proves incompetent per Klingon regulations, and he reacts to attempts to usurp his authority very harshly.
  • The Alcoholic: Kurak. At one point, she refuses to believe that she has alcohol poisoning, because as far as she's concerned alcohol is only a poison to "weak" races such as humans. Usually Klingon physiology fights off the negative effects of alcohol, but she'd consumed so much that even Klingon biology couldn't cope.
  • ...And That Fool Was Me: How Klag's Captain's Table tale ended.
  • Apron Matron: Tabona, daughter of Jirak.
  • Artificial Limbs: A plot point; Klag, who lost an arm in a previous conflict, could be fitted with an artificial replacement. He refuses, though, insisting that he's a Klingon, not a Borg. It's one of the Honor Before Reason issues Doctor B'Oraq has to deal with. Eventually, Klag accepts a biological graft - his dead father's arm to replace his own. It's not as effective, of course, but it's a compromise.
  • Asshole Victim: The Elabrej. The Klingons are in their region of space on a mission of general conquest; Captain Klag and his crew are nonetheless the protagonists of the series. The Elabrej government is oppressive and they're close to societal collapse anyway, with their general Crapsack World status making it easier to get behind the Klingon attempts to stomp all over them.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Not always, as Klingons are highly political and their culture is rather complex, but on the whole if you can overpower or out-fight a rival, you end up in charge.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis:
    • In A Burning House, B'Oraq wins a death-duel within seconds by simply stabbing her opponent through one of the weakest parts of his armor, penetrating his third aorta. Killed him right in the middle of his monologue, too.
    • In Honor Bound, G'joth comes up with the idea of using Molotov cocktails and grenades in combat on San-Tarah - turning the tide by bringing explosions to a world where energy weapons don't work.
  • Badass Native: The San-Tarah are essentially this, to the imperialist Klingons' delight. Several glorious battles result.
  • Badass Transplant: Subverted originally for Klag, because having his father's arm attached where a stump used to be has thrown his fighting talent off by quite a bit in the first book. Over time he's regained some, if not a lot, of his old edge.
  • The Big Guy: Goran. He's even referred to as 'the big man'.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Elabrej, although in the scenes from their point of view they evaluate the humanoid Klingons along these terms. The Elabrej oligarchs are shocked to hear that Klingons can only see what is in front of them (or to the immediate side), due to having only two small organs on the front with which to experience vision.
  • Blade Enthusiast: Davok favors the qutluch, the signature dagger of an assassin, which he throws with fantastic accuracy even in close-quarters combat. He claims that he took it off an assassin who tried to use it on him. Wol finds this claim to be dubious, but has no trouble believing that Davok would piss someone off enough to have someone put a hit on him.
  • Cain and Abel: Dorrek and Klag.
  • Call-Forward: In A Burning House, Klingon Imperial Intelligence reports that Neral's reign in the Romulan Star Empire is becoming increasingly unstable, and that he'll probably be replaced or deposed within the year. This is a Call-Forward to Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul, which takes place about six months later, and which features the end of Neral's rule.
  • Call to Agriculture: H'Ta, one of the elderly members of the Order of the Bat'leth. Now a farmer, he much prefers fertilizer to blood and has no desire to leave when he receives Captain Klag's summons to battle.
  • Combat by Champion: This is how the San-Tarah conflict will be resolved, as the final of five tasks which determine who gains control of the planet, the natives or the Klingon Empire. Captain Klag faces Me-Larr, pack leader of the dominant San-Tarah tribe, in the ritual circle.
  • Combat Medic: B'Oraq. Technically all Klingon doctors, but she's more or less the only one who remembers the "medic" part is supposed to take priority.
  • Continuity Nod: As ever in the modern Star Trek Expanded Universe, many. In particular, the series often references events from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch, which is set in the same timeframe.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Leskit, building on his characterization in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He's possibly the most sarcastic Klingon in the galaxy.
    • B'Oraq has Deadpan Snarker tendencies, too:
      Tiklor: I will not stand here and be insulted!
      B'Oraq: A little late for that, don't you think?
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Goran never loses, because he is 'the biggest and the strongest'. He is very confused when a San-Tarah native bests him in a contest of strength. In fact, he's so ashamed and confused he asks to perform the Klingon ritual suicide. Leader Wol says no, however. Goran quickly gets over it, as he usually does.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kurak. Thankfully, Leskit serves as her Morality Pet and by the fourth book has mellowed her out quite a bit especially since they are now mated.
  • Determinator: Goran does not like to lose and will do anything to make sure he doesn't. He even goes into a brief Heroic BSoD when he does experience his first ever loss.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: It's a series about Klingon warriors - they aspire to this. Specifically, Kornan got one at the end of the second book, and Captain Wirrk specifically demands to be put in a situation where he can get one in the third.
  • Dying Town: Krennla.
  • Even Klingons Have Standards: Klingons have no qualms decrying any reliance on most creature comforts, they have only semi-decent medical care (though that is changing), and their standard policy is to conquer worlds violently instead of using diplomacy, which doesn't make them all that nice, especially if you're a pacifist of any sort. On the other hand, even they were sickened and horrified beyond belief when they realized just how bad off the Elabrej people were, to the point that even with all the above stated...the Klingons running things at their most assholish would've been a massive improvement!
  • Expy: Word of God states that Bekk Goran is inspired completely by André the Giant. He doesn't even exercise.
  • Extra Eyes: The Elabrej apparently have eyes, or equivalent, all over.
  • Face–Heel Turn: A particularly unfortunate example involving Rodek, which was originally kicked off by Laser-Guided Amnesia failing at the worst possible time coupled with being fed disinformation by a Manipulative Bastard, but the final result was that Klag ordered him off the Gorkon for damned near trying to kill him.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The Elabrej have a vertically stratified caste system. There are also the lowly non-strata beneath everyone else. Only the very highest caste, the Vor, are traditionally permitted on the government council, though in recent times the next caste down has claimed a few seats. There's also a growing revolutionary movement.
    • Klingons aren't immune to this either, especially considering how the rules of Klingon society (and the reality of the preestablished cliques that resent any power shift) lead to a lot of stagnation and hostility to anyone not a part of them. This is part of why B'Oraq finds her efforts to improve Klingon medicine to be absurdly difficult at best.
  • Feuding Families: Well, this is the Klingon Empire we're talking about, so yes, plenty. Some families are too powerful to be feuded with, though. The House of K'Tal, for example, is so prosperous and powerful that challenging a member will bring an assassin down upon you in no short order.
  • Fictional Holiday: Yobta’ Yupma’, the harvest festival. It’s mostly observed by farmers and natives of farming worlds, and isn’t widely known or celebrated by the rest of the Klingon Empire.
  • Five-Man Band: The Fifteenth. Wol is The Hero, G'joth The Lancer, Goran The Big Guy, Kagak The Heart, and Moq appears to be The Smart Guy.
    • G'joth shows plenty of The Smart Guy tendencies in Honor Bound, as he comes up with the idea of using grenades and Molotov cocktails. Arguably the city of Val-Goral would not have been retaken without G'joth's ingenuity.
  • Foreshadowing: The Elabrej, who appear for the first time - and star - in the third book, are actually mentioned in the first, when the Gorkon receives a report from another Klingon ship. The battle that is said to have taken place, and the new mission objective of the other vessel, are actually setting up the plot of book three.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Wol did this to the Elabrej during her escape from them, and considering what they did to her, not only was it horrific for the Elabrej (who she killed a hell of a lot of), but the circumstances stopped it from being fetish appeal for the other Klingons who eventually rescued her.
  • Gentle Giant: Goran, as long as we keep in mind this is gentle by Klingon standards.
  • Great White Hunter: Toq, sort of. He was raised without Klingon values at first, so in a cultural sense he's overcompensating for not being raised as a Klingon, which makes him seem like a parodic exaggeration of a Klingon who enjoys hunting.
  • Hates Everyone Equally: Kurak. She despises her fellow officers, but has no desire to join the mutiny against them, mostly due to hating the mutineers just as strongly. What she really hates is the Klingon Defense Force as a whole.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am a Dwarf Today?: A great many characters are somewhat obsessed with "being Klingon", and make a point of it routinely. It's relatively justified, in that Klingon society has recently undergone tremendous upheaval and is now trying to reaffirm a sense of what being Klingon means. Reminding themselves - and one another - of their status as Klingons is thus reasonably common, as characters evaluate their own behaviour, and that of their fellows, against the expected conduct of the ideal Klingon. This is particularly true of Toq (who grew up ignorant of his heritage and now embraces it enthusiastically – perhaps a little too enthusiastically), and Klag (who takes his obligations to the ''Order of the Bat'leth'' extremely seriously).
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Amusingly inverted in the fourth book where an opera written about the San-Tarah campaign stars Tereth as Klag's lover, and G'joth points out that she was a lesbian. In fact, it seems that Klingon culture seems to have little problem with homosexuality, and thus unless a character makes their sexual preference clear via this trope, an implied bi seems to be considered societal norm.
  • Heaven: Klag seemed to think "Those Who Run With The Dead" in San-Tarah culture were in heaven. Apparently, this is not so, and he may have (slightly) offended them instead.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Done multiple times by Klingons, Tereth being an excellent example. In the third book, one of the good guy Elabrej performs one of these, and considering up until then most of the Klingons thought they had no stomach for real sacrifice, no less than Toq is deeply impressed.
  • Hidden Badass: Up until he dies in a battle against the San-Tarah, Davok was not only a Jerkass, but an in-universe scrappy who spends most of his time either getting his ass kicked in the prequel novels or bitching at G'joth. However, even he proves his badass credentials when he uses a qutluch to take down one of the Children of the San-Tarah ninja style.
    • Just because B'Oraq is small, doesn't mean she can't kill you very quickly thanks to her knowledge of Klingon anatomy, as Tiklor learned to his chagrin in A Burning House.
  • Honor Before Reason: These are Klingons, so yes. Reason is often so far behind it might never arrive at all. That said, through sheer persistence Klag and most of the other characters manage to trump or at least compromise reason and honor to the point they agree somewhat at times.
  • I Gave My Word: Klag promises on his honor to leave the San-Tarah alone after they defeat his crew in a series of challenges - and Me-Larr defeats him in honorable combat. General Talak, on the other hand, orders Klag to conquer San-Tarah anyway. Klag refuses, and is furious that a Klingon would ask him to break his word.
  • Insufferable Genius: Kurak is one up until towards the end of book three, when she starts to mellow out a little.
  • In the Original Klingon: Played with. In an amusing Shout-Out to The Undiscovered Country, B'Oraq claims Shakespeare is best appreciated in the original English.
  • Klingon Promotion: Naturally, the trope is explored, but an important part of Klag's backstory involves his frustration at being unable to take command in this way. As first officer of the IKS Pagh under incompetent Captain Kargan, Klag had every right, and responsibility, to pull off a (literal) Klingon Promotion, but Kargan was a part of the powerful House of K'Tal, and if Klag killed him he'd have an assassin sent after him for sure. The only reason Kargan remained a captain was by blaming Klag for his own screw-ups. After Kargan died in a crash-landing, Klag finally got his own command.
  • Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: Among the crew of the IKS Gorkon, we find a doctor who is reviled by much of their society for recognizing that warriors without missing limbs and debilitating scars are more effective than those with them. Her suggestion of an artificial limb for her captain is outright refused (he's not a Borg, after all) and the compromise of an arm transplant from his dead father, while accepted by the captain, is looked at with horror by others. We also have the chief engineer (Kurak, referenced in the page quote), forced into the military by her family over her objections that designing better ships and weapons for the military is a better use of her talents. She's told that if she refuses to serve, she will be discommendated, which would ban her from working on those designs anyway. One novel also features another Klingon engineer, who's absolutely terrible at being a warrior (or tough in any way). However, he's a capable engineer, although the others sneer at his constant attempts at treating every engineering problem as a foe to be defeated.
  • Knights Templar: The Order of the Bat’leth, of which Captain Klag is a member. B’Oraq and Worf even make the comparison explicit.
  • Language Equals Thought: A fine old Trek tradition. The Klingons respect the skill of the San-Tarah fine, but they only really start to respect their culture when they learn that the universal translator cannot find a San-Tarah word for 'peace'.
  • Long List: The things Lokor knows:
    “I know everything that happens on this ship. I know that Bekks Yojagh and Moq are having sexual relations in secret. I know that three of the squad leaders in First and Second Company are no longer using the names they were born with. I know that Ensign Kallo would rather be a painter than an officer, but that she is dreadfully bad at painting. I know that Leader Ryjjan has borrowed storage in the cargo bay from two officers in order to store barrels of bloodwine. I know that Commander Kurak has a nephew who will enter Defense Force officer training in less than a year, at which point she will resign her commission. I know that Leader Hovoq is impotent. I know that Lieutenant Yaklan writes fiction under an assumed name. I know that Leader Wol accidentally killed her own son at San-Tarah. I know that Bekk J'nfod cheats when he plays grinnak. I know that most of the neckbones that Lieutenant Leskit wears were not taken in battle as he claims. I know that Leader Zurlkint has a fondness for a Terran fruit called sutawberIs and he had a box of them smuggled in when we left Ty'Gokor. I know that Leader Kylag has two different mates on two different planets in the empire. I know that you received those recordings of Battlecruiser Vengeance you're so fond of in exchange for a set of coins that, should your father ever find out you traded them, he would kill you”.
  • Lost Him In A Cardgame: The San-Tarah and Klingons participate in a contest of five tasks. They who win the majority...gain complete control of the San-Tarah homeworld. San-Tarah indeed becomes part of the Klingon Empire, on a technicality.
  • Love Dodecahedron: In one of the short stories, Captain Klag mentions reading an erotic novel in which an Andorian (four sexes) and a Damiani (three sexes) become caught up in a dangerous love septangle...
  • Lower-Deck Episode: The exploits of the Gorkon's Fifteenth Squad are covered in detail throughout the series proper (and some of its members are introduced in the prequel novels).
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: So very much. However, there are exceptions, as politics interferes with the warrior ethos of the Klingon people. Killing a member of the influential House of K'Tal, even in legal challenge, is not a wise move at all. Everyone knows they'll send an assassin after you.
  • Mythology Gag: The Battlecruiser Vengeance entertainment program originally comes from the pre-TNG novel The Final Reflection which presented a very different Klingon culture.
  • Narm Charm: An internal example. The old animated show Battlecruiser Vengeance is this for many Klingons (and it's a nice wink to actual fans of Original Series Star Trek too). One particular episode presents the Klingon hero repelling a Federation boarding party. The episode was produced during the height of tensions between the empire and the Federation, and the party consists of ridiculous, inaccurate computer-generated images of Federation member races. Specifically, the Andorian is more green than blue and has overlong antennae, the Vulcan's ears are too pointed, the Tellarite looks more like an actual boar, the Betazoid has fully blacked-out eyes instead of simple dark irises, the Human has eyes too large and a mouth too small, the Trill has spots covering her entire body, and the Denobulan has misplaced ridges. In the minds of many "modern" fans, the inaccuracy just adds to the joy of it.
  • Offing the Offspring: Wol accidentally kills her son on San-Tarah, during the heat of battle. More in keeping with the usual trope, Lorgh has made it reasonably clear that he will kill his adopted son Toq should it ever become necessary as part of his work at Imperial Intelligence.
  • Once an Episode: Not in the novels themselves, but there's a good example in "Battlecruiser Vengeance", the popular animated show enjoyed by the Klingons in-universe. Every episode ends with the same line: "I am Koth, Koth of the Vengeance. And this ship is my prize". Also, pretty much every episode has an Orion slave girl in it, though how she keeps showing up is a mystery to viewers...
  • Only Sane Woman: B'Oraq, who is very reasonable for a Klingon and frustrated by the rest of her people. A doctor, her particular agenda in life is to get the rest of the empire to accept the use of modern medicine. She faces fierce resistance, as the Honor Before Reason Klingon culture tends to view medical care as a low priority, and pandering to weakness.
  • Permission to Speak Freely: Klag extends this late in book one while asking for some advice, although it's actually worded along the lines of "I will not kill or dismember you if I don't like what you say".
  • Planet of Hats: Averted. The fourth novel in particular (A Burning House) is largely dedicated to showcasing the diversity of Klingon culture. First, the Klingon farmers are explored in some depth (one notably shrugs off the "good day to die" warrior ethos as not something she is particularly concerned with). These farmers also have a far friendlier relationship with the various subject races, like Phebens. The laborers and workmen of the cities are also explored (in both the capital and another, less fortunate, city where industry has packed up and left, leaving many out of work). We are also shown Klingon opera singers, lawyers, policemen, etc. Earlier books in the series, which focus on the warriors, also make a point of portraying them with much diversity, including an elderly Klingon who was previously a warrior but has since moved into farming and now "prefers fertilizer to blood".
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Klingons, of course. The San-Tarah are possibly even more so (their language has no word for "peace"), and the two peoples get on swimmingly, having a great many happy battles.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Chancellor Martok.
  • Serious Business: Wind-boat racing, as far as Kurak is concerned. She's infuriated when her team loses a contest on San-Tarah, insisting that they've ruined the sport for her.
  • Shout-Out: Yer Bialar is named for Bialar Crais, of Farscape, one of many Farscape references in the author's works.
  • Starfish Aliens: The Elabrej.
  • Superior Species: Played with when the crew of the Gorkon are on Elabrej. In the role of the "wise visitors" from the stars, the Klingons lecture the Elabrej rebels (who try their hardest not to cause too much death, targeting empty buildings and the like). The Klingons inform them that a superior culture knows the way forward is to cause maximum mayhem and violence, as often as possible. A pretty hilarious inversion from the Kirk Summation speeches of Star Trek: The Original Series.
  • Supreme Chef: Tabona. Try her candied racht in particular.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Though not evil, merely very unpleasant, Kurak likes to make this complaint a lot.
  • That Man Is Dead: Wol's previous identity was Eral, a noble woman. When she came of age, her parents had Eral betrothed in order to forge an alliance with another house. Eral, however, became pregnant with the child of a servant, whom she loved. She was banished from her house, as her father could not bring himself to kill her (as honor would have dictated). Her lover, however, was executed, and her child taken away. She became Wol, a common soldier, and embraced it. Eral is pretty much dead and gone.
  • Thicker Than Water: Klingons place family incredibly highly. Kurak's House made a vow to always serve the Empire, and it is the duty of any and all members to fight in uniform if called to do so. Now that all the other adult members are dead, Kurak has to serve in the Defense Force, despite hating it there. If she doesn't, she'll be legally cast from the family by the House gin'tak (like a senior servant but with legal power). Her life, like that of so many Klingons, revolves around family ties.
  • To Follow Orders Or Conscience: As far as Klag is concerned, he will do his best to follow the former, but if they are a direct insult to his own morality, he will always follow his own beliefs on what is honorable.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Lokor. Of all the Klingons who consistently follow Klag's authority and have yet to pull a Face–Heel Turn, Lokor is the one guy who has the fewest scruples in screwing people over to get them to toe the line and not buck the system, and most of his methods are horrifying in their effectiveness. On the other hand, he's also unbelievably useful and indispensable to the point that Klag trusts him implicitly.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: G'Joth is asked to provide notes for an opera celebrating the Battle of San-Tarah, having been there at the actual conflict. He is constantly frustrated by the production team's bending of the truth, and their rewriting of details to make the performance look better. One particular point of irritation is the way in which villain of the piece Talak was scaled down to a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: G'Joth and Davok, of the "equally insulting" variant.
  • Worthy Opponent: The San-Tarah are a Worthy Opponent to the Klingons, sharing their warrior ethic. Klag, Leskit and the crew are delighted to hear that the San-Tarah cannot even translate the word "peace" into their language.
  • You Have Failed Me: General Kriz behaves like this towards the captains under his command. He is happy to shoot dead any captain who makes a fool of himself, or who fails to conquer new worlds for the empire. This is not unusual behavior; Klingon officers in general can put subordinates to death for failure at any time, although of course all but the most unhinged practice restraint.

Alternative Title(s): IKS Gorkon