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Literature / Star Trek: Vulcan's Soul

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A trilogy of books in the so-called Star Trek Novel Verse, building upon the earlier novel Star Trek: Vulcan's Heart and continuing the story of Spock and Saavik into the late 24th century. The trilogy also serves to bridge the gap between portrayals of Romulan-Federation political relations at the end of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the state of affairs in Star Trek: Nemesis. It also sets up many of the players for the first book in the Star Trek: Titan series.

The three books are Exodus, Exiles and Epiphany.

The plot is divided between two time periods — the late 24th century, in which a mysterious race known as the Watraii are attacking the Romulan Star Empire without provocation, and the distant past following a family of Vulcans on the long exodus to Romulus.

This series contains examples of:

  • A Father to His Men: Female example. Charvanek, as ever, is a mother to her underlings, though since moving away from active service "her men" are her aids and staff rather than actual warriors.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Charvanek's office features Irlani art as well as Romulan.
  • Arc Welding: This trilogy links Star Trek: Vulcan's Heart to Star Trek: Titan and Star Trek: Nemesis. It also connects nicely with the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch and the Star Trek: A Time to... series. In particular, it takes the political situation with the Romulans following the end of Deep Space Nine (namely, their alliance with the Federation and Neral being praetor) and alters it appropriately to set up Nemesis, in which the Romulans are isolationist again and the praetor is Hiren. They also go out of their way to portray the back story of the Romulans as close to the accounts given in the Rihannsu novels by Diane Duane, keeping names, characterization, and events very similar, just adjusted for the canon Romulan people established in Star Trek: The Next Generation and beyond.
  • Arranged Marriage: As with many Vulcans, Karatek and T'Vysse were betrothed at a young age. They are Happily Married, as Vulcans consider arranged unions entirely logical, and rarely feel imposed upon.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Romulan Ambassador T'Kala is fond of posturing rather than negotiating diplomatically.
  • Bittersweet Ending: With the Romulan Star Empire in chaos, and the hopes for peace dashed first by Hiren's sudden coup and later the fallout of Shinzon's reign, it is left to Charvanek to try and make amends with the Watraii. Although she is alone and about to head into great danger, she still embodies the fierce nobility of Romulans at their best, and offers hope for the reunification — or at least the peaceful reconciliation — of the Vulcanoid peoples.
  • Blood Oath: The Watraii swore to avenge themselves on "the murderer race", and thus dedicated their entire culture to blood feud with the Romulans. For their part, the Romulans weren't even aware the Watraii existed.
  • Bookend: Karatek's journey begins and ends with a Sundweller flying overhead.
  • Continuity Nod: Many. Just as an example, Scotty reads up on reports from the Corps of Engineers, and finds an interesting one about the starship da Vinci and a planet in a box. This is a Continuity Nod to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers story Small World.
  • Conveniently Close Planet: Sarissa's people escape Romulus and Remus by diving down an unstable wormhole. They emerge within range of a habitable planet, despite their ship's limited supplies.
  • Cosmic Horror: The Intellivore, a "living world" that drains the mind energy of its victims, and disguises itself as a habitable planet to lure in starship crews. A Continuity Nod to another book.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The Watraii were once Romulans, betrayed by their kin.
  • Crossing the Desert: Surak, Karatek and their party, in the first book. It wouldn't be a Vulcan story without a grueling trek across The Forge.
  • Deep Cover Agent: A crewman aboard the Alliance is in fact a Romulan spy, whose real personality has been voluntarily repressed until a pre-determined trigger re-awakens it. She doesn't do much; she’s there to report on Starfleet’s activities, not to sabotage.
  • Doomed by Canon: Hiren is praetor as of Star Trek: Nemesis, meaning Neral's reign is doomed. Indeed, he's deposed in the final book of the trilogy.
  • Emergency Transformation: The extremophile life-forms of Remus alter Refas' physiology to help him survive, after he walks out onto the ice. They bond with him symbiotically to save him, mutating him into what will become the first of the Remans.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: It is a Vulcan-Romulan story, after all.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Neral, who makes a deliberate choice to do so when Hiren has him assassinated.
    • The ancient Vulcan rite of Kalifee v'rekor is a form of this. The old and infirm would accept Final Honour and walk out into the desert to die, rather than waste away while experiencing the shame of being a drain on resources.
  • Fantastic Honorifics: "T'Kehr", a Vulcan honorific for learned scientists or philosophers in positions of leadership.
  • Fantastic Racism: The various Vulcanoid races really need to learn to get along nicely. Luckily, they have Spock working on it — and now Charvanek too, it seems.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Frequent in the Vulcan refugee plot.
  • Fire, Ice, Lightning: Sarissa's journey. Vulcan (fire), Remus (Ice), Watraii homeworld (lightning).
  • Flanderization: Some accuse these books of flanderizing the relationship between President Zife and Koll Azernal, with Zife being an ineffective president relying on scheming Azernal to run the government for him. It is certainly more obvious in this trilogy than in Star Trek: A Time to.... The Brains and Brawn partnership of Rehaek and Torath is arguably flanderized, too.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: The Ruling Queen, T'Rehu — Romulus' first and only dictator. The trope is perhaps particularly appropriate here, because while it's never made explicit, there is the possible implied suggestion that Romulans fear single female rulers more than male ones — simply because of T'Rehu. Both sexes serve in government and in the senate, in more or less equal numbers, yet interestingly the praetor is usually male. Possibly female senators find it harder to ascend to the position due to a bias connected with this trope. This is likely only subconscious — there are no actual legal restrictions and we do see some female praetors, but the disparity is interesting in a culture that otherwise demonstrates equivalence between genders at all levels of government.
  • Gunboat Diplomacy: Tomalak's fleet blockades Vulcan in order to intimidate the USS Alliance into returning the Coronet of Karatek to the Romulans.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: T'Rehu, dictatorial Ruling Queen of Romulus, in the refugee plot set two thousand years ago.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Praetor Neral is about to lead the Romulan Empire into formalizing alliance with the Federation (as well as lift many of the restrictions placed on the Vulcan unificationist movement). He's come to realize the Federation can be trusted and that they're worthy friends to Romulus...but he's unable to implement any of his new policies before he's killed off, replaced by conservative leaders who take Romulus back into hostile isolationism.
  • Hive Mind: The true natives of Remus; tiny, rapidly-evolving extremophile lifeforms clustered under the ice.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Several times; Solor transfers his katra to the young Reman Shadow, an adept attempts to mind meld with a victim of the Intellivore, and Spock absorbs Karatek's memories through the coronet.
  • Kicked Upstairs: An older Pavel Chekov believes Starfleet did this to him by pressuring him to accept promotion from Captain to Admiral.
  • Macguffin: The Coronet of Karatek. This Macguffin nearly starts a war, as both Romulans and Watraii claim it by rights as a sacred treasure. The Watraii steal it in the second book, requiring the protagonists to go get it back.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The Watraii (at least at first).
  • Man-Eating Plant: Vulcan apparently has these. Most notable is the S'gagerat, which hide beneath the sand to ensnare prey in their tendrils.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Romulans and Vulcans (in the latter's case, only in the secondary plot set in the distant past). The te-Vikram are a Proud Warrior Race within a Proud Warrior Race, being a particular Vulcan culture that embodies the trope perfectly.
  • Psychic Link: Between several Vulcan or Reman characters.
  • Retcon: Books two and three take the Rihannsu backstory from the earlier works of Diane Duane and adapt it to fit the modern canonical Star Trek — so the Remans, for example, are slotted in, and the second of the Two Worlds is now a barren wasteland. Other than the necessary changes, the books are quite faithful to the Rihannsu source material.
  • Sacred Hospitality: An essential part of Vulcan ethics, both in the modern era and in the time of Surak. The Romulans have retained the tradition, at least in some regions.
  • Serious Business: Traditional art forms on Nar-a-Lethe Prime; departure from the exact means of expression laid down by the ancient masters is not tolerated by the present culture.
  • Shoot the Builder: According to Hiren, those who designed and built the Council Chamber in which the modern Romulan Senate meet were executed immediately afterward, to ensure the building would be one of a kind.
  • The Starscream: Proconsul Hiren to Praetor Neral. He's successful. Unfortunately.
  • Start of Darkness: To the point that the Romulans can be considered "evil" or "villainous", their beginnings are detailed here in the secondary (or in some readings primary) plot of the trilogy. The story of Karatek and Sarissa's journey, and the colonization of the Two Worlds by Vulcan exiles, details the very beginning of the Romulan culture. The origins of the Remans are likewise explored, predominantly in the final book.
  • Tears of Blood: In Exiles, a victim of Cosmic Horror the Intellivore ends up releasing these. It also overlaps with Psychic Nosebleed, seeing as the vast telepathic mind of the Intellivore has scambled the psychic receptors in the victim's brain.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: As always, the Federation, Klingon and Romulan governments. The citizens of the three nations actually work together very well however, when they decide to move as one in hunting down the Watraii who destroyed Nemor.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: The Surakists on Remus, after being betrayed and forced into slavery by their kin. There are varying degrees of success. There is also much debate among them over whether they should actually continue observing their prior ethics. Some believe they should abandon Surakian pacifism.