Their 5-year mission coming to an end, the intrepid crew of the Enterprise finds themselves scattered to the four winds. Captain Kirk finds himself without a ship and after a brief tussle with the admiralty, finds himself accepting a promotion and a diplomatic position within Star Fleet. This pleases neither Spock nor Dr. McCoy. Spock returns to Vulcan to accept a post in a university, while McCoy pursues an old flame. But as they struggle to adjust to planet-side life (and a life without one another), an ancient evil arises and unites with a current enemy. Soon the old friends will find themselves fighting not only to save each other - but the fate of the Federation of Planets as well.
The Lost Years promises to fill the gap between the original TV show and the Star Trek: the Motion Picture. It may have more aptly been named The Lost, Rather Downer Year, as it barely covers one and what it does cover is rather depressing.
JM Dillard skillfully works together multiple plot lines, so many and so varied that it isn't until the 3rd act that you can see how they work together. Kirk resigns himself to desk-work and diplomacy, a fate made easier by the fact that he is reunited with Riley (the loveable Irishman from Season 1) and his boss is a comely Admiral who isn't immune from his charms. Spock, disappointed that Kirk will not take another ship, resigns from Star Fleet and pursues a relationship himself. And Dr. McCoy, ever doomed to romantic disappointment and convinced that Kirk has been hoodwinked into his new position, is adrift and lost, though accompanied by a witty and bright scientist who is studying ancient religions. The other characters make brief appearances and everyone is well-shown, Dillard obviously being a fan of the show.
But the whole book is so darned depressing. You wince as Kirk begins to make concessions, trimming his larger-than-life personality to fit behind behind the desk and into a career as a diplomatic problem-solver and we agree with McCoy when he accuses him of selling out to the higher-ups. McCoy is his sharp, tenacious self, but Spock is more than usually withdrawn and making his own concessions to the ordinary life. As is usual in friendships, their concessions affect their relationships, so much so that by the end of the book, you find yourself actually looking forward to The Motion Picture (now THAT is a sentence I'd never thought I'd write!) when some of this will be put right again.
Summary: Stellar plotting, strong lines, good side-character (I'm still annoyed at Kirk's new commanding officer), but depressing overall feel.
Kirk and Spock: A
Everyone else: too little seen to rate.