Duane’s second Romulan (excuse me: Rihannsu) novel is also, or maybe more of, a follow up to Spock’s World.

Like that book, which dived into the history of the most prominent member of the Federation after Earth, every other chapter of this book gives the history of the Romulans, starting with their original split from Vulcan society, and self-imposed exile among the stars.

This alternates with a far better, but very unusual plot centered around the head servant of a Rihannsu household that has seen better days. Other things intrude on this setting, including Ael from the first book near the end, but the only regular cast member who has a presence is McCoy. Rihannsu and Federation covert plots get involved, and what starts as a fairly sedate focus gets shaken to pieces. I don’t buy some of how the Federation op is put together, but once that’s accepted, everything els falls into place very well.

As such, much of the book is fairly actionless, and is a decidedly slow burn. Thankfully, the characters are well-done, and keep a creaky opening going. Things heat up over the course of the book, for a fairly epic conclusion, featuring, among other things, ‘a good ol’ southern fillibuster’. Duane doesn’t do as much violence to the setting as some other novels, but this is an event that would go down in the history books.