The Price of the Phoenix

Sondra Marshak, Myrna Culbreath
The Price of the Phoenix Cover

The Price of the Phoenix


The authors created a too-strong villain and an impossible situation in this early, very non-canon publication.

The story starts in media res, with the body of Captain Kirk being returned to the Enterprise, with his identity confirmed shortly thereafter. In dialogue we find out more-or-less what happened to cause his death, but we never find out why the Enterprise is here, the mission, or even the stardate. Kirk (not surprisingly not dead) and Spock get the majority of the dialog, along with the Romulan commander from "The Enterprise Incident" (whose presence is also not really explained).

The pacing is uneven, with a LOT of dialogue. With just a little reading between the lines, this is a major slash story, perhaps the first in a published Star Trek novel. A lot of novel text is spent on considering just who are the alpha males. The villain is unreasonably powerful, with brains, brawn and technology way beyond the Federation and the Romulan Empire. Finally, the authors wrote themselves into a bit of a corner with the ending (no spoilers) - but there is also a sequel in this same early Bantam books series.

The Price of the Phoenix was published in 1977, just a few years before the release of Star Trek the Motion Picture. It is set in the original five year mission, after the events of the series. The self-published book "Never Mourn Black Omne", distributed sometime prior to the publication of Price, is believed to have been an early, draft, version of the novel. The authors were also proud to claim they had Roddenberry's approval, where the previous book Spock, Messiah! did not. Between the two, I found this book slightly better, but not a lot of fun to read. 1½ stars.