I finished the Star Trek novel "Rihannsu: The Empty Chair" on the train home from the city tonight. Very mixed feelings; it's taken me all month to get through it - frustratingly, I started it the very night I bought "Demands of Honor" ("Errand of Fury #2").
Parts of TEC I loved: the fabulous rec deck parties, with witty Kirk, Ael, McCoy and Spock banter; jovial Harb Tanzer and chirpy K's't'lk the Hamalki, and the final scenes with the Empty Chair itself. However, I felt there were just too many huge slabs of preparations-and-speculations-for-war that seemed to move so slowly; sometimes I could spend an hour reading/phasing in and out, and only get a few pages accounted for. The rec deck stuff moved so much faster, but Diane Duane made us wait sooooo long to see Harb - eleven chapters in (p 186). And Naraht the horta's cameo was cute (p 405) but also too far into the book.
I'm thrilled that Diane Diane was finally able to complete this (Romulan) story arc (and once again use her great original characters). I was never really expecting it to continue beyond Book #2.
"The Wounded Sky", which introduced us to the glass-spider-like Hamalki scientist, was my very first purchase on US soil (my first American trip, starting with a Hawaiian stopover in December 1983 - friends had told me I'd never find Star Trek books in Honolulu - but the wonderfully engaging, quite lengthy, book kept me company on plane journeys all over USA... with the timely arrival of "The Trellisane Confrontation" to keep me company on the way home at the end of January 84). I still regard TWS most fondly, and also appreciated its bare-bones transformation into an early episode of TNG (ie. "Where No One Has Gone Before", with Eric Menyuk's the Traveller taking on the Hamalki's role).
With TWS's original characters so vivid in my mind, I eagerly devoured the first "Rihannsu" novel, "My Enemy, My Ally" (July 84), and its sequel, "The Romulan Way" (Aug 87), as they turned up, then mourned with the rest of Treklit fandom the loss of the Rihannsu via "that memo" in 1989 - and then delighted in their unexpected, but still controversial, return with "Swordhunt" and "Honor Blade" - because Ms Duane's unfinished manuscript, that was to end the whole thing, was running late, so Book 3 suddenly turned into Books 3 and 4, and ended with "To Be Continued". Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!!
I'm also thrilled that the saga was recently collected, with ranks and timeslines revised, for the handsomely-produced "The Bloodwing Voyages".
And I'm ultimately satisfied that "The Empty Chair" concludes with some (perhaps inevitable) links to TNG's "The Neutral Zone" and "Unification". Ael's final line was unexpected, but probable should have been predictable. Excellent!
But what to read next? I finished TEC, and I thought I was moving on to "Demands of Honor" tonight. I even had it in my backpack, anticipating finishing up TEC. But tonight I found "Enterprise: The Good That Men Do" and "Crucible: Kirk". I say again, Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!!