In Ice Trap, Captain Kirk and his crew are dispatched to icebound Nordstral to investigate a mysterious outbreak of insanity only to quickly discover that there is much more going on than they first supposed. A team of research scientists have already disappeared - and even the otherwise friendly natives have no clue about their whereabouts. While Kirk and McCoy take on the medical mystery, Uhura and Chekov lead a team composed of Enterprise crew and untrustworthy outsiders in the frozen tundra to find the scientists. But with the planet undergoing massive instability, both teams risk never coming back alive.
LA Graf has a great sense of pacing and paints an impressive picture. The landscape is so barren and cold that I had to layer on extra sweaters just to get through some of the scenes. As it true with Star Trek books, the author (actually a pen name for two, possible three collaborators) gets most of the cast correct, but falls a little short on one. Chekov is so intense and rigidly capable in Ice Trap that he almost seems like a different character from the lovable TV version played by Walter Keonig. This is more than made up for by the attention paid to McCoy (whose childhood secret is revealed) and Uhura, who plays a meaty role in this outing.
Summary: Ice Trap is a great book filled with thrills and chills - sorry, had to do that - and feels just like one of the original Star Trek movies (by which I mean the even ones, not the odd). Highly recommended.
Character Ratings: Except for Chekov (who is an excellent character in this, but just didn't feel like the original), all As and Bs.
This series attempts to answer the age-old question: read the book? Or wait for the movie?
The Book: Captain Blood, (1922) by Rafael Sabatini.
The Movie: Captain Blood, (1935)starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, and Basil Rathbone and directed by Michael Curtiz.
Plot: Doctor Peter Blood is a retired Irish adventurer who is falsely condemned of traitorous activities during the Monmouth Rebellion in England. Condemned to slavery, he is sent to Port Royal where he is purchased by the cruel Colonel Bishop, and falls in love with the Colonel's lovely, kind, and strong-minded niece, Arabella. When a chance Spanish raid on Port Royal offers Peter a chance to escape, he takes it and goes on to become one of the best known (and most principled) pirates of the Caribbean. His daring exploits and clever campaigns become the stuff of legends, but Peter has left his heart behind in Port Royal. Can the man whose ingenuity is world-renown ever find a way to clear himself and win the heart of the girl he loves?
Unlike Sabatini's other pirate novel, Sea Hawk, the movie follows the plot book very closely. Energetic acting by the charming leads, Curtiz's fast-paced direction and action-packed script doesn't attempt to hide the brutality of war, slavery, and piracy, yet still manages to make Blood a sympathetic character that you root for. In short, it's a great movie.
But time constraints caused some of the book's events to be edited out, including most of great pirate exploits in the book. Also, Arabella Bishop suffers in the movie. Sabatini wrote likable, strong women and Arabella is no exception: she is fair-minded and not afraid to stand up to either Peter or her peers, whether it's tending to sick Spanish soldiers or telling off some of the most powerful men in the room. She is as strong a character as Peter, though secondary. De Havilland's role is reduced to a somewhat petulant, one-note character, who is too proud to admit when she is in the wrong. A shame, really, when the real Arabella was a truly refreshing, smart character.
Conclusion: Toss-Up - Read and Watch
The book is epic and fun, and though it suffers a little in prose (English was not Sabatini's first language and it shows a little here and there), the characters are engaging, the action exciting, and the plot is entertaining. The fact that I've read it three time might just show you how much I like it.
The movie is a classic - big ships, big action scenes, good fencing scenes, grand drama, star-crossed lovers, top-notch directing, a solid soundtrack by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and it made stars out of then-unknowns Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland.
Both the movie and the book were enormously successful when they debuted and with good reason - solid entertainment like this doesn't come too often.
“A man must sometimes laugh at himself or go mad--Few realize it. That is why there are so many madmen in the world.” - Captain Peter Blood