Picked this for cheesy vacation reading but was blown away by how great it ended up being Everything you want a licensed tie in book to be feels right and familiar, but one that expands the world and tells a story in a way they wouldn t or couldn t on TV or in a movie but then kicks it all up a notch by being a great, fast paced, gripping story that you don t need to be a Trek fan to enjoy I need to go track down some of Ms Duane s other books now. Diane Duane has crafted a good basic story about a Romulan commander joining forces with the Enterprise crew to foil a despicable new weapon that she feels will be a permanent blight on the honor of the Romulan people It has some nice suspenseful moments and builds to a satisfying climax.However, it is also terribly padded There are pages and pages of exposition that do little to advance the story and belabor the character points that are being made Characters converse for pages about matters that turn out to have little to do with later events Worst of all, Duane goes to great lengths to show us how the Enterprise crew is one big happy family They are always giving each other amused looks, gazing at each other with appreciation, and trading gentle, affectionate comments about each other Such a constant barrage of warm fuzzies grows tiresome rather quickly Fortunately, this aspect of the book grew less egregious toward the end of the novel. The professional fan fiction of Star Trek novels are useful for finding new authors, and the biggest find I ve ever had from them is Diane Duane, who had written many very good books outside that universe This is where I first discovered her, and it is also one of the best Star Trek novels I ve read Thirty years after I last read it, several scenes still stand out in my memory.There are, perhaps, a few too many MacGuffins floating around There s artificial ion storms, 4D chess with a mini transporter to time pieces in and out , and the big problem of the book, a Romulan project to enhance psionic potential But all of them relate to the plot fairly strongly.Part of the main point of the book is to take a closer look at the Romulans About half the book is from the viewpoint of Ael t Rlailiiu, a Romulan starship commander who feels that the Empire s latest project will only lead to ruin, and so makes common cause with one of her gravest enemies An interesting touch is that Romulan dialog is given untranslated, with only a character s reactions and internal thoughts providing a sense of what is being said Thankfully, it isn t done much as it would get wearying, but it is an interesting device for what we do get.There s plenty of action, and it s all well done, but there s plenty of build up and planning before that Duane introduces a number of new characters here, including Ensign Nahraht the only Horta in Star Fleet , which have been fan favorites since The characters are smart, and generally act like it there s an amount of but of course I planned for this that borders on the excessive , and of course there s the wonder of early Star Trek unburdened by special effects budgets Recommended for all TOS fans, and action adventure fans. This book is one of my favorite rereads I can t believe I ve never reviewed it Duane s Trek novels come from a parallel universe where Trek, and its classic characters, are better than they actually were in a way, truer to canon than canon, pure Roddenberry There s a profound joy to her work aliens are wonderful, exploration is amazing, everyone has the potential to become their best self My Enemy, My Ally came from an era of Trek novels when really good writers could be tasked with expanding the universe established in the original series it s of a piece with John M Ford s The Final Reflection a road not taken in fleshing out the Klingons Duane here gives us a rich Romulan culture which fits much better with what we saw in TOS than the canon of TNG and later ever did a people reserved but intensely passionate, a culture in decay, slipping from military honor to bureaucratic expediency It s also an exploration of a slightlywhimsical, slightlyintellectual Kirk, by contrasting him with a Romulan woman who s perfect foil his equal, and with no sexual tension between them One of the strengths of the book is how the reader well, me could fall madly in love with the Romulan Commander while still believing that she irritated and disturbed the living hell out of Kirk There s humor, horror, space combat, ground combat, psychology, culture, superb characterization, and a turning the cardboard and blinking lights TOS into a real, fleshed universe I love this book. Back in the day, before there were sequel series to the classic TV show, before the reboot, there were the Pocket Books Star Trek novels They built on the original stories, taking advantage of the novel format to create worlds and aliens and special effects impossible for TV or movies This was where my fandom was all these books.So one of the things I resented about Star Trek The Next Generation is that the show s creators completely failed to make use of Diane Duane s wonderful extrapolations about the Romulan people The Rihannsu, as she called them, had a detailed culture and society and their relation to their distant cousins, the Vulcans, made the Vulcansinteresting as well My Enemy, My Ally is the first of Duane s Rihannsu novels, and tells the story of Ael t Rllaillieu, disgraced commander in the Romulan fleet, who joins forces with the crew of the Enterprise to stop her own people doing something dishonorable, horrifying, and evil.I always liked the Star Trek novels with main characters other than the Enterprise crew, probably because those books revealedabout those familiar characters by showing them at a remove Half this book is narrated by Ael, the other half by Jim Kirk, and there s a real beauty in how the two of them learn to trust each other a trust madedifficult by Ael s personal anger toward Kirk for his role in the downfall of her sister s daughter in the TV episode The Enterprise Incident Duane populates the book with dozens of supporting characters, all of whom have personality and strong character My favorite is Harb Tanzer, chief of recreation, which is sensibly tied to the medical department he s sort of an elder statesman kindly old uncle who turns out to be remarkably good in a crisis But there are Enterprise crew, and Vulcans, and Romulans, and the interactions between all of them are wonderful.One of the things I like about Duane s writing in general is her constant sense that there is meaning beyond what is obvious on the surface I hesitate to say she has strong themes in her fiction, because that implies a conscious, deliberate construction, and questions of love and honor and duty and friendship simply arise naturally from it Yes, even in a Star Trek novel Ael s character is defined by the fact that she chooses to betray her people in order to uphold a sense of honor her people have largely left behind What she discovers is that other races, while different, in many cases share the same values, even if they have other ways of pursuing those values And yet in the end we re reminded that Rihannsu do have a different sense of honor than humans, as Ael is forced to practice that honor at the expense of something that matters very much to her.This book was first published in 1984, and it has a few elements that remind you how old it is, specifically the use of tapes and cassettes with the computers though most of the computers are suitably small But some of it, particularly the concept of 4 D chess which is itself part of a recurring theme still works really well And, again, the characters are what sell this story Ensign Naraht, the young Horta ensign who s so very earnest Ael s crew, who look up to her as a mother but respect her as a commander Christine Chapel, a full doctor now with just enough screen time to remind you of the power these authors had to remedy some of the unthinking sexism of the 60s Lieutenant Freeman, obsessed with old vids and Doctor Who It s a huge cast of characters, and Duane is tremendously skilled to keep them all individuals.I picked this up again after several years because I came across an omnibus edition of the Rihannsu novels and felt like revisiting my youth It was wonderful to find that some things, at least, remain golden Now I ll have to go on to The Romulan Way, my favorite, and hope that too is as good as I remember. Some of the other Star Trek books have been mediocre at best, but Diane Duane usually does an excellent job in her writingsand this book is no exception The story really drew me in, and I almost felt like I was watching the show instead of reading a book. My Enemy, My Ally remains one of the best classic Star Trek novels ever written, even thirty years after its original publication date I want to give this one to everyone I ve ever known who s been disappointed by a Trek book and say, Read this It will change your mind about Trek I will admit right up front that I have a rather large bias toward Diane Duane, who has written a considerable portion of my favorite books her YA fantasy series, Young Wizards, is also very much worth your time to check out but let s not digress She has a distinctive, lyrical, descriptive prose style that makes each scene jump off the page, and a gift for choosing exactly the right words to evoke specific images for the reader Specifically in terms of Star Trek she writes aliens very well The television shows tend to stick to humanoid races out of the necessity of using human actors, but since literature has no such restrictions, Duane s aliens are as strange, interesting and unusual as one could imagine My favorite of her original alien races are the Hamalki, who are essentially glass spiders who communicate by singing Enemy Ally in particular is the beginning of what would eventually become a pentalogy or tetralogy, if you prefer, since the third and fourth books were intended to be a single volume but were split in two by the publisher The novel centers around a high ranking Romulan officer, Ael t Rllaillieu, who is an old off and on enemy of Captain Kirk s and, if you re familiar with the show, the aunt of the female Romulan commander from The Enterprise Incident, which further puts her at odds with Kirk and company Ael has learned of experiments taking place on a remote space station, sponsored by the Romulan government, which involve forcibly taking genetic material from kidnapped Vulcan test subjects in order to attempt to create a method for Romulans to be able to use the Vulcan telepathic disciplines While loyal to her people, Ael is also a highly honorable woman with a strong sense of morals and ethics, and the knowledge of what her government is becoming seeing the growing corruption in the Senate, and knowing to what use the mind disciplines would be put if the experiments are successful serves as the proverbial straw that breaks the camel s back Unable to gain any help from her allies in the government, andor less exiled to a tour of duty in the Neutral Zone where the Romulan government hopes she will get herself killed, Ael has no choice but to betray her people and turn to her old enemies for help.I could write a million pages about Ael she s mature, experienced, competent, able to match wits with Kirk and Spock, and strongly present in the story without upstaging or overshadowing the canon characters Her relationship with the crew of her ship, Bloodwing, parallels in a rather lovely manner the familial relationship that the crew of the Enterprise have with one another On the other end of the spectrum, she isn t immune to making mistakes, misjudging others, or failing to see things coming in a couple of cases, quite tragically so In short, she s a well rounded, dynamic character, and a strong female protagonist in a series and, let s face it, genre that sometimes ends up short on such characters When I first read these books when I was young, I took to Ael immediately she was one of my first real literary role models, and I m very, very grateful to Diane Duane for bringing her to life. I picked MY ENEMY, MY ALLY up for fun, and while it was a pleasant enough read, I wasn t enthralled.There were good points Duane lets her imagination run wild with aliens Many diverse species, cultures, sexual orientations, abilities, colors, and body types roam the pages freely and happily Duane s deft handling of science and the mechanics of the Star Trek universe made for a solid, high stakes adventure Ael was a fascinating, fresh character, and her and Kirk s relationship was well wrought especially the ending.What majorly dropped my review star count was the plot s pacing The first 200 pages seem to exist only to set up for the last 100 pages, and while Duane s plethora of details build up the characters and world nicely, they can t hold my attention Put simply and horribly, I was bored and that s partially why it took me so long to finish the book.Once I got to page 201 though, the plot speeds up to break neck speed I was so on board for the ride that I nearly cheered Everything came together in a tight little bow, and I finished quick.To sum up, read MY ENEMY , MY ALLY if you have the patience for a very, VERY slow beginning and like exploring coolio author creations Otherwise, it s a bit of a slog. Dad was right, it was really fun Diane Duane just gets it, she gets everything about what made Star Trek great It was exciting, touching, and laugh out loud funny at all of the right times The old characters were spot on without feeling retread and the new characters were very interesting I went into this reading I m pretty sure I read it at least 20 years ago, but I can t remember, I may be remembering Ensign Rock from other books as a favor to Dad, but he was right and I was wrong, and now it will be recorded for posterity And now, thanks to Goodreads and the new series feature, we ve both discovered that Duane wrote additional books in the Rihannsu saga, so we re both looking forward to that. Ael T Rlailiiu Is A Noble And Dangerous Romulan Commander But When The Romulans Kidnap Vulcans To Genetically Harness Their Mind Power, Ael Decides On Treason Captain Kirk, Her Old Enemy, Joins Her In A Secret Pact To Destroy The Research Laboratory And Free The Captive Vulcans When The Romulans Discover Their Plan, The Neutral Zone Seethes With Schemes And Counter Schemes, Sabotage And War