I picked up both Enemy Territory and Engines of Destiny last night and couldn't wait to dig into the Gorkon book. It's always a treat to get two new KRAD stories in consecutive months, and this one certainly lived up to my high expectations. There are big spoilers here, so don't highlight the black boxes unless you've read it or really want to be spoiled.
One of the things I really like about this series is the way it takes normal Star Trek tropes and turns them on their heads. In the case of ET, there is an alien-of-the-week type culture in which there is an oppressive governmental leadership and an existing separtist movement intent on overthrowing that leadership. Had this been a TNG story, the characters would have had to balance their desire to help out the oppressed with the dictates of the Prime Directive. That was interesting 18 years ago, but nowadays we've all seen that before. Good thing that this isn't the TNG crew. Instead, the Gorkon crew gets enmeshed in this conflict and chooses sides based on the best possible way to wreak revenge Spoiler:(Go Captain Koth of the Battlecruiser Vengeance! Haha!) for the destruction of a Chancellor class vessel.
KRAD also seasons the story by making the aliens-of-the-week truly alien. The Elabrej are Spoiler:six-legged creatures without heads, who can see 360 degrees around and of course, because of their differences, have certain notions of the physical world that the Klingons (and we human readers) lack. In fact, KRAD doesn't even allow a full description of the Elebrej until nearly half way through when the Klingons finally meet them face to face. Before that, he drops tantalizing hints from the point of view of Elabrej characters that give some ideas what they look like. It was a nice way to emphasize the alienness of the aliens, going beyond simply changing a few words (like changing ship to conveyance) in order to remind the reader that this is a very different culture.
There's some excellent character development, particularly for Toq Kurak and Wol, and even Spoiler:Rodek's character's secret seems ready to be discussed, though it doesn't quite happen here. The treatment of Kurak's Spoiler:alcoholism and depression was especially effective. Some of the lines even made me laugh out loud, such as Spoiler:"They use too many circles. I should kill them for that! and there was an a vomit-based scene that felt like something straight out of Farscape. Even the technobabble parts felt very Klingon when Klag suggests Spoiler:doing the impossible by forming a subspace barrier while on the ground because they're not hampered by concern for the environment below.
One thing that bothered me a little, however, was that the body count seemed inflated, even for Klingons. An entire Chancellor class ship is lost in the prologue with nearly all 3000 hands lost, plus Spoiler:the Gorkon loses nearly 1000 in a spectacular crash onto the 10th moon I was thinking the body count was reaching David Mackian proportions. But then Spoiler:the sudden loss of two more Chancellor class ships in a throwaway line at the end seemed superfluous. It's one thing to illustrate the strength of the Elabrej weapons, which I think was very well done at the beginning, but one of the main thrusts of the novel was to show how adaptable the Klingons were in acheiving their goal, especially compared to the ineffectual Elabrej Separatists. That throwaway line seemed to work against that theme. Plus, when the death toll seems superfluous, I feel kicked out of the moment because I have to remind myself that it's just a story, which is something that doesn't happen when the deaths seem appropriate to the story as in the case of Spoiler:Trant, who in retrospect probably isn't really dead, and Wirrk. Plus, the Elabrej were good adversaries, but not good enough to take out Spoiler:a quarter of the Chancellor-class fleet.
In all, this was a quick and an enjoyable read. I love the way the series has unfolded, and the way KRAD can keep the surprises coming even after having written so many Trek books. So, bring on book 4 already, will ya?