The purpose of this blog is to have a little fun. It is NOT to start arguments. I don't profess to be an expert on Sci-fi, nor do I aspire to become an expert. You are welcome to comment on any and all content you find here. If my opinion differs from yours, as far as I am concerned, it's all okay. I will never say that you are wrong because you disagree with me, and I expect the same from those that comment here. Also, my audience on the blog will include some young people. Please govern your language when posting comments.

Posts will hopefully be regular based on the movies I see, the television shows I watch, and the books I read as well as what ever strikes me as noteworthy.

Spoilers will appear here and are welcome.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Klingon Art Of War - A Great Book On Many Levels

The Klingon Art Of War by Keith R.A. DeCandido

In early 2013, I noticed that author Keith DeCandido was posting in his blog and other various internet outlets about something he was calling a “project that can not be named (yet).”  As a fan of Keith’s work, I was very curious, hoping for another Trek novel. I followed the posts waiting for some word on what was coming down the pike. Later, I learned that Keith was coming to a convention in Omaha as an Author Guest of Honor.  I was able to make arrangements for an interview with him (Scifi Diner Episode 204).  He spilled the beans to me on this project, as well as others.  Little did I know what was in store for me as a reader; a great book, perhaps one of the best I have ever read.

I have read The Klingon Art of War (KAOW) twice now.  This is a great book on several different levels.

KAOW is patterned after Sun Tsu’s Art of War, a treatise on the correct way to wage war.  Keith’s treatise is about how Klingons who choose to live an honorable life may do so by following ten precepts that involve how relationships should be conducted between Klingons and others.  Keith puts himself in the role of translator of the text as penned by a Klingon author named K’Ratak (take a close look at that Klingon name, see anything cool?)  K’Ratak gives a quote from Kahless for each precept, then gives stories to show how the precept applies to Klingon life, then follows with a commentary.  The original “qeS’a’” (the Klingon title of KAOW) contained many stories from adventures of Klingons while on their home world.  K’Ratak explains that he has updated the work to include stories that have taken place as the race has moved out among the stars.

On the surface, KAOW is a monumental gathering of stories that have appeared in the various television shows and novels in the Trek universe. The first precept is “Choose Your Enemies Well” and includes the story of the Klingon who chose to face a vicious storm and “make the wind” respect him at the walls of Quin’Lat.  This story appears in the ST:TNG season six episode, “Rightful Heir.”  If you enjoy Klingon lore, KAOW is loaded with it.

Further, the first precept looks at how a warrior needs to take care in choosing their enemies.  When choosing an enemy, there is no honor in choosing to battle an enemy that is easily beaten, while at the same time, it is foolish to choose an enemy that is impossible to beat.

Going even deeper, the reader can try to apply the precepts to their own life. Keith sets this idea down as a quote in the Introduction by K’Ratak discussing the authorship of the qes’a’:

“Whoever the author might be, that Klingon gave us a guide to living that can apply to all warriors - regardless of class or standing within the Klingon Empire. As Kahless himself said, “All life is a battle.” And those who live to wage war in one way or another. qeS’a’ provides a guide to fighting all of life’s battles.”

In other words, one can look at the enemy not as another person, but as the challenges we are faced with in life, and the battle not as physical conflict, but rather as how one faces those challenges.  So, if one has the choice of what challenges to choose, can one take pride in choosing challenges that are very easy? Is there any sense in choosing a challenge that is impossible and will assure one failure?  For me, it comes down to something my principal told me when I first started teaching, “choose the battles you can win.”

If one reads this book on a level that is more than just mere entertainment, it can speak to the reader on many levels.

Another aspect of KAOW that I found as I read was in the language that Keith used in the telling of the stories and in K’Ratak’s commentaries.  As I read while alone and when it was quiet, I could hear the voice of the author speaking to me in a very Klingon way.  I found myself imagining that I was sitting in a place with subdued light, perhaps a fire burning in a huge fireplace, listening to how I might, one day, become a warrior.  As you may or may not know, Keith is a student of the martial arts, and the influence of his experience is palpable all the way through this book.

Something else to keep in mind before you read KAOW is that before each precept is presented, there is the image of artwork that is absolutely beautiful. If you are planning to read this book in an electronic format, make sure it is on one that has a color display, the impact in B&W is just not there when it comes to the images in the book.

In any case, this book is so good on so many levels, I know that I will be coming back to it over and over again for inspiration, advice, and just for its pure entertainment value. I give The Klingon Art of War my highest recommendations, whether one is a Star Trek fan or not, there is a lot in this volume that will help one behave honorably and just makes good sense.

Well, there it is…