I’m glad I came to the later part of Duane’s Rihannsu series late, as there was a six-year publication gap between the middle part (the previous pair of books) and this one, with it picking up just as things get dangerous with a state of war being declared between the Federation and the Romulan Empire. It’s also ~400 pages and allowed to be one book, thankfully.

There’s plenty of action this time, with several large actions as the war escalates. In fact, this novel is unusual for Star Trek (especially original series) in depicting fleet battles instead of smaller engagements. Kirk gets to actually act as more of an admiral for once, managing things instead of charging straight into the middle of the action. There’s a fair number of macguffins around some of this, more that I prefer to see thrown around in one novel, but at least they all fit with each other.

At the same time, the plot more revolves around finding a true way forward. Oppression and rebellion are coming even without a war, and in fact, war with the Federation is a distant thing for most of the book, which concentrates on the internal troubles. The large cast of character really shines in this type of story, as there’s no real way to present all the important facets without them. The conclusion follows very naturally from much of what has come before, and is the satisfactory ending all of this has has deserved.

There’s an attempt to paper things over at the end, to give an out to The Next Generation‘s bit where the Romulans have cut themselves off from the rest of galactic society for decades. It feels forced, and is a squaring of the circle that just wasn’t needed. But that’s a minor problem in a strong conclusion to a series that does a great job with its material.