Home > My Fiction, Star Trek > STAR TREK: THE CAPTAIN’S OATH Cover Reveal!


At last, the cover and blurb for Star Trek: The Original Series — The Captain’s Oath have been released!

Star Trek The Captain's Oath cover

Cover by Stephan Martiniere

The saga of James T. Kirk’s historic command of the U.S.S. Enterprise is known throughout the galaxy. But one part of the legend has barely been touched upon until now: the story of Kirk’s first starship command and the remarkable achievements by which Starfleet’s youngest captain earned the right to succeed Christopher Pike as the commander of the famous Enterprise. From his early battles with the Klingons to the rescue of endangered civilizations, Kirk grapples with difficult questions: Is he a warrior or a peacemaker? Should he obey regulations or trust his instincts? This thrilling novel illustrates the events and choices that would shape James T. Kirk into one of the most renowned captains in Starfleet history.

That’s right — once more, I’m filling in an unchronicled (or rarely chronicled) gap in Trek history. Indeed, I seem to have worked my way backward through Kirk-era milestones: the first mission post-TMP in Ex Machina, the end of the 5-year mission in Forgotten History, the transition between TOS and TAS in The Face of the Unknown, and now The Captain’s Oath covers both Kirk’s first starship command before the Enterprise (mentioned in The Making of Star Trek back in 1968 and alluded to in passing in the second TOS pilot) and, as a frame story, his first mission as captain of the Enterprise. Which means I’ll now have depicted both the beginning and end of the 5-year mission.

There have been a few previous versions of Kirk’s first mission on the Enterprise, but not very many, and not for a long time. The main ones were both more than 30 years ago — DC Comics’ first ST annual “All Those Years Ago…” by Mike W. Barr and Enterprise: The First Adventure by Vonda N. McIntyre. More recently, there’s been hardly anything — a few stories set near the start of Kirk’s ENT tenure (such as Mere Anarchy Book 1 and the flashback opening of IDW’s Mission’s End) and a brief flashback to the change of command in one of John Byrne’s IDW photo comics. And of course it was covered in David A. Goodman’s The Autobiography of James T. Kirk a few years ago. But I felt it was high time that the Pocket novel continuity got a new version of that first mission.

However, I was more interested in exploring Kirk’s previous command, which has hardly ever been explored in the tie-ins. A few stories have given brief glimpses of the beginning or end of Kirk’s first command — it was the Saladin in Mike Barr’s version, the Lydia Sutherland in McIntyre’s version, the Oxford in Howard Weinstein’s “Star-Crossed” in DC’s ST Volume 2, and the Hotspur in Goodman’s Autobiography. But it’s still largely a blank slate, so naturally I was drawn to it. Goodman’s book is the only one I’ve seen that shows any actual missions of that ship, though it only portrays a couple of them, mostly versions of events we already know from Kirk’s past, like the Dimorus incident mentioned in the second pilot. I was more interested in exploring things we didn’t already know about Kirk’s early career and how it shaped him into the captain we knew. This is a somewhat episodic novel covering several years, so it features a number of different missions and adventures of the fledgling Captain Kirk and his “forgotten” ship and crew.

Filling in the unexplored gap in a Star Trek captain’s career before the Enterprise is also something I’ve done before with Captain Picard in The Buried Age, which is why I’m pleased that that book’s cover artist, Stephan Martiniere, has returned to do this one as well. It’s a neat-looking cover that reminds me of the vintage Bantam Trek novel covers from the ’70s, with the Enterprise streaking past a vast, mysterious construct in space.

The Captain’s Oath will be released in trade paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats on May 28, 2019. Here’s the ordering link from Amazon — so far they’re the only site that’s uploaded the information as of this writing. But I’m told it’ll be showing up elsewhere quite soon.

  1. Michael Poteet
    January 13, 2019 at 11:18 pm

    That’s really cool, Christopher. You’re right about “forgotten” – I would’ve been hard-pressed to remember that reference to a previous command from “Where No Man…” especially after the influence of ST09. Now that you mention McIntyre’s novel, I do have some vague recollections of her story of Kirk’s pre-Enterprise command. “Blood flows in strange patterns in zero-gravity,” right?

    I’ll look forward to picking your new novel up!

    • January 13, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      My recollections of that book are pretty vague too. I always preferred Mike Barr’s version.

  2. January 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

    I’m intrigued. I like “gap-filling” Trek novels. This era as well as the post-tmp/pre-twok one that you explored in “Ex Machina” are of particular interest to me, so I’ll definitely have to pick this one up.

  3. Tim Wilson
    February 21, 2019 at 10:56 pm

    I’m really looking forward to it! This is odd praise, but you mostly write about series/eras that don’t really interest me…but they are so well done, that they have been some of my favourite Star Trek stories (not just novels, but stories in any format).

    As an aside, it’s interesting to see that two of the three authors picked up on Roddenberry’s “Horatio Hornblower in space” description of Kirk. If memory serves:

    HM Frigate Lydia was Hornblower’s command in the first published novel (“The Happy Return” aka “Beat To Quarters”in the US), and HMS Sutherland was has command in the second novel, “Ship of the Line.” Actually, those two books are the first two of the “original trilogy” as it were (I’m brain farting on the third book right now…maybe “Flying Colours”?), and he didn’t hold an official command in the third book. Though he did temporarily command a recaptured small ship called the Witch of Endor, but try working that into a Star Trek novel!

    And HM Sloop Hotspur was Hornblower’s chronological first command, in the rather appropriately named prequel “Hornblower and the Hotspur.”

    Sorry if that’s not exactly news to anybody, I just thought it was cool in case someone didn’t know already.

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