I’ve long known of The Final Reflection as one of the better Star Trek novels, but I’ve only recently gotten a chance to find out for myself.

It lives up to the reputation.

These days, it needs to be remembered that this came out in 1984, when the known universe was all original series-related, plus 15 years of fan development. At that point the Klingons were still under-developed, and this novel does a great job with one of the first looks at them from the inside. Ideas like the “Black Fleet” still show up in number of places.

The book itself is multi-layered, with a frame showing that The Final Reflection is a novel that exists at the time of TOS, an in-universe “Researcher’s Note” explaining that while fiction, it’s based on as much info as the author could get about events (an amazing number of people were just not available for interviews…) of around forty years previous. And then there’s the novel itself.

There’s some interesting decisions made. The Klingons are generally more advanced than the Federation (they have transporters first, their ships are generally more powerful), and seemingly have been in space longer than Earth, though looking between the lines, the Federation is probably catching up.

The central plot of the book doesn’t get going until late, and just what is going on in a couple places is obscure, with the main character apparently having been several steps ahead of everyone else… and that was largely off-screen. But the real purpose is to present the Klingon world-view. And this is 250 pages of that, and all of it is excellent. John M. Ford could definitely write, and one of his strengths was to take someone else’s world and make it his own by fleshing out a part of it. This book is largely overwritten by later Trek lore, but is well worth a read on its own strengths.