The novel focuses on a young Spock, a conflicted ensign, serving on the Starship Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. Spock is having a difficult time dealing with his Vulcan heritage and how it conflicts with his duties as an officer and what he wants personally.
Spock soon becomes involved in a mission to retrieve the 'Vulcan's Glory', a priceless gem long thought lost in a spaceship crash. It is soon discovered there is far more to this mission then readily apparent.
The novel focuses on the crew of the Enterprise from the period featured in the pilot episode "The Cage". A younger Montgomery Scott also appears.