Order from
The Black Shore

Series: Voyager # 13
Author: Greg Cox
Published: May, 1997
Review by: Cmdr. Amanda Sielu Paris

If you're like me and you've read a few Voyager books, then you'll be screaming the same thing as I was. How many times does Voyager go to a planet for shore leave to a place that looks harmless and ends up almost costing them everything? Before you start counting the number of Voyager books that start out this way, let me tell to read past the first few chapters. You'll begin to pick out things on your own that are severely wrong with this planet and realize that they aren't on Risa anymore. It may start out the same as all those other books, but you won't regret forging through the beginning of this book.

U.S.S. Voyager receives a message that invites visitors to a beautiful planet named Ryolanov. With a picture of a beautiful beach with black sand as like a postcard, Captain Kathryn Janeway looks into the planet. Without finding anything wrong and finding their hosts extremely warm, Janeway approves the planet for shore leave. On the first meeting, Lt. Tom Paris almost gets himself in trouble with Eldest Varathael's daughter and her extremely jealous admirer, but the matter is resolved and shore leave continues. Despite signs from some of the crew being overly tired and perhaps being late for their shifts, everything seems well.

But Kes isn't so sure. Her and Neelix go for a swim on that beautiful beach that had brought the ship here in the first place. In an effort to teach her how to swim, Neelix saves Kes from almost drowning. But she didn't almost drown because of not knowing how to swim, her empathic abilities picked up on something that wasn't right with the beach. B'Elanna Torres is having some trouble getting anything from the Ryols on their technology and agrees to stay on the ship after a bitter fight with one of the natives. She, too, has found something not right about the planet. Chakotay becomes worried about the crew showing up late for their shifts and being irritable about working despite the shore leave.

The problems increase and then Tom is attacked by his friend again. This time he only has a crew member and Harry Kim at his defense. Tom discovers that something strange happens with the Ryols' eyes and he almost succumbs to this power when Tuvok saves him. DNA is taken and they all head back to the ship. The worries increase when the doctor discovers that the Ryols aren't native to the planet they call home and Captain Janeway watches Varathael use this strange power to almost kill Tom's attacker. Then the question of this small almost monkey-like race that the Ryols use as their servants. Things just aren't adding up. Neelix, Kes, and Torres take things into their own hands and go snooping when they are kidnapped by the Ryols. Janeway uncovers a plan to not only take over the ship, but to use the crew as the Ryols' new servants.

Greg Cox is a genius and that's all I really have say about this man. This story had so many twists and turns. Even though you knew something was wrong you couldn't always put your finger on it. The struggles to get off this planet alive is fought on several fronts and each one lets the crew members shine in their own way. Kes is strong with her mind, Torres uses her anger to rage on, Tom's reluctance to follow orders helps give them an edge, Chakotay remains a silent strength, and Janeway is the free one that brings them out as winners in the end. This is definitely one vacation that the crew members of Voyager won't forget and you won't be able to shake from your mind.