Thoroughly unimpressed as I was, I cannot say that I actually
disliked the events that took place in this book. But when I read
a Star Trek Next Generation book, I expect to experience the characters
from that show, and to see the Enterprise do battle, or at least play a
significant part of it. This did not happen.
The book picks up immediately after Book
1 ended. The new crew finds out about the one-armed Romulan on
board, and are alarmed at what he was part of, killing the previous crew.
The ship sets a course to the badlands, and are, of course, detected by
a Cardassian ship. Picard gives the Vulcan Taurik and the Romulan
control of the ship, to convince the Cardassian that they are not in violation
of Cardassian space. It works, and they make it into the badlands.
Here, they encounter a new problem, which stays with them for
most of the story. In fact, it becomes the major plot in the book,
setting the wormhole plot to secondary importance. Sabotage, and
a traitor on board. In order to gain new replicators, the crew is
forced to team up with a bunch of pirates, who are looting derelict ships.
But the ships are not so derelict. They come alive every so often,
by a race of beings that is slightly out of phase from normal space.
The pirates want the stuff that comes into phase every so often with these
I think this makes Picard less respectable than any book should.
They should not have allied themselves with these people, and I don't think
Picard would have, no matter how desperate they were. It was just
the author's way of showing something strange. And I don't think
the Star Trek universe needs any more strange stuff. It could have
been worse, though. I really thought they were going to discover
the origins of the badlands. They kept referring to the mystery of
that area of space, and after Book 1's
derelict space station, and the derelict ships here coming to life, I thought
we might see an ancient battle reenacted.
I'm glad I was wrong.
But most of the book is put to use finding the traitor on board.
The transporter operator is killed, without a mark on her. They also
discover that the subspace beacon they were supposed to use to call for
the Enterprise, as well as the explosives, have been sabotaged.
Some of these scenes are neat, while others are stupid.
Picard questions every crew member, threatening them with a mind-meld.
Even Picard would not do this. The threat, perhaps, but not the meld.
I could believe it for the interviews, but when one crewman refuses, he
actually orders Taurik to perform the meld!
But that is the key point, because that is when Ro discovers
that Taurik is actually a Changeling in disguise! I was pleasantly
shocked by this revelation, because I was really afraid that somebody was
trying to sabotage the mission. I wonder what he would have done
if Picard had not been called away?
Of course, Picard gets suspicious, and thinks there might be
a Founder on his ship. I still can't follow his reasons for this.
But he implements a passcode between him and Geordi.
Geordi is working on converting their last lifepod into an asteroid,
with a transporter and other stuff that they will use to knock out the
Through a bunch of chases through the small ship, and wrong passcodes
after posing as the Captain, the changeling is found, and wounded, then
killed. Unfortunately, it managed to send a distress call before
An unbelievable contrivance follows, as they prepare to die at
the hands of a Jem Hadar warship. Armed with photon torpedoes, Data
appears in his shuttlecraft, and saves them. He then helps them get
to the wormhole and set the charges.
Of course, not all goes as planned, and their ship is destroyed,
they meet more resistance than planned, and the Trill wormhole scientist
is killed. But Ro arrives in her ship, and manages to distract the
sensors long enough for the team to beam back to Data's shuttlecraft.
As the wormhole opens, and the fleet of Jem Hadar ships is about
to pour through, it is destroyed. Of course, the Jem Hadar on this
side are not happy about that, so the shuttle is in trouble. But
just then the Enterprise arrives to save them and get them home.
That last scene was even worse than Data showing up. Riker
spent all his time on that Starbase trying to get his ship out of repairs,
but it was mostly dull stuff. It appears that he finally did it,
and managed to cross half of Cardassian space without being detected, when
the Bajoran craft could not go more than a few light-years without being
I also wonder what kind of force the Dominion was actually expecting
to arrive, when Riker has reported that Deep Space Nine was retaken a couple
of days ago, which means that the Jem Hadar fleet was already decimated
by the Prophets.
Anyway, it is not worth analyzing. Picard was way out of
character here, and the plot was boring, not to mention all the contrivances
it took to bring about any sort of resolution. As far as Ro and the
lieutenant are concerned, I would rather not think about their relationship.