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Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Captain's Table: Dujonian's Horde
Michael Jan Friedman
Pocket Books, 272 pages

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Captain's Table: Dujonian's Horde
Michael Jan Friedman
Michael Jan Friedman is thoroughly immersed in the Star Trek universe, having written over 15 novels and DC Comics' Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has also written heroic fantasy and, more recently, Batman and Robin. When writing fantasy, he learned fencing and sailing to add authenticity to his novels.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Star Trek: The Next Generation/X-Men: Planet X
SF Site Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Mist
SF Site Review: Star Trek: Federation Travel Guide
Pocket Books: Star Trek
Paramount Star Trek

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alexander von Thorn

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Rumours of an ancient treasure of powerful technology, a crew of brigands sailing the infinite dark, a missing Starfleet officer, a lost civilization in a pocket universe with a complex political conflict... There is only one man to call for this assignment: Jean-Luc Picard.

In ancient times, a benevolent race called the Hebitians came to Cardassia. They did not leave much of their enlightened philosophy, but they did leave impressive tombs. Some of their artifacts had jewels called "glor'ya," which were discovered to have properties similar to dilithium, but more effective. At least, so the legend goes. The legend also says that a Cardassian named Dujonian managed to steal all the glor'ya-encrusted artifacts, and then disappeared without a trace. All of which was merely legend, until a Starfleet officer named Richard Brant vanished, and rumours were heard of a band of pirates who were hunting for Brant because he had supposedly found the location of Dujonian's horde. Needing someone with the skills to perform a rescue, and also to authenticate the ancient artifacts, Starfleet called on Picard to locate and infiltrate the mercenaries searching for Brant and the treasure. He and Worf go undercover for the search.

The first-person perspective works well for this story. Picard analyzes his situation with quiet reserve, but takes the bold stroke when it is the most logical choice. He avoids conflict where possible, but acts with bravery where required. His sense of humour is dry and understated, even unstated as often as not. A true leader, he trusts his life to his best people without a moment of doubt, not worrying about details. Although there are plenty of stories about Picard, I really enjoyed a story told from his point of view.

That said, the "Captain's Table" framing device is a distraction, contributing nothing to the story. Picard tells his story to a group of strangers, whose role is mainly to interrupt the story to ask what happens next. It detracts from the tension, and adds nothing to the plot or characterization of anyone interesting. A first-person story told by Picard is more than enough to hold the reader's interest without the clutter of these interruptions. Unfortunately, the plot is a bit formulaic as well. Picard and company go through a dangerous spatial anomaly to encounter a hidden civilization which is split by civil war, where his group sides with the virtuous rebels. The final chapter is the first chapter of the next book in the series, as though this were a single narrative. The book ends with a 14-page biography of Picard, nothing new to regular viewers of the series.

But the characterization here is very well done. Picard and Worf infiltrate a band of rogues, some of whom find nobler sides in the face of adversity. Others do not, and Picard finds ways to lead by example even without formal rank. The reader will watch Picard calmly outwit Cardassians, Romulans, pirates, and alien tyrants. There is an intriguing romance between Picard and the pirate captain, Red Abby.

Dujonian's Horde is an enjoyable story showing Jean-Luc Picard at his best. The author might have done better if he had been allowed to cut away the commentary from uninvolved parties. But a first-person account by the Enterprise's greatest captain is one most fans of Star Trek will find worth reading.

Copyright © 1998 by Alexander von Thorn

Alexander von Thorn works two jobs, at The Worldhouse (Toronto's oldest game store) and in the network control centre of UUNET Canada. In his spare time, he is active in several fan and community organizations, including the Toronto in 2003 Worldcon bid. He is also a game designer, novelist-in-training (with the Ink*Specs, the Downsview speculative fiction writing circle), feeder of one dog and two cats, and avid watcher of bad television. He rarely sleeps.


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