The Battle of Maxia was a defining moment in Picard's life.
With the loss of his ship Picard retreats into academia to
study archaeology, but even archaeology can have its dangers.
When Picard decides to explore the deepest past he opens up
a Pandora's Box which could destroy the galaxy...
Star Trek the Next Generation: the Buried Age is the new
novel by Christopher L. Bennett. For all my reservations about
some of the plot, I will agree that the book is well written.
The book is broken up into four parts, almost four novellas,
to denote four different time periods as the book covers the
whole nine years between Picard's loss of the Stargazer
and his taking command of the Enterprise. Bennett has
used this device to reflect on different aspects of Picard's
personality. In Part 1: The Quality of Mercy we see
Picard, in full command mode prior to loosing the Stargazer;
in Part II: Rounded With a Sleep, Picard has taken
a temporary leave of absence from Starfleet to indulge his
intellectual side and study archaeology; in Part III: Brave
New World event start to force Picard back into taking
command; and in the last section Part IV: Abysm of Time
we see Picard as a man driven.
Generally I felt that part one, which deals with the loss
of both Picard's ship and his subsequent loss of faith in
his own abilities as a Starfleet Officer following a particularly
harrowing Court Marshal, was one of the stronger parts of
the novel. Bennett really knows how to write a good courtroom
drama, so it was a bit of a shame that this section was relatively
short. This and part two are the most successful sections
in showing different aspects of Picard. Unfortunately the
last two sections gain little in being separated as Picard's
character development is much less so here.
find I have little understanding of a series that has the
whole of creation to play with and reduces this to a very
small sand box. The more I read the more I'm convinced that
Starfleet only has twenty ships manned by less than a few
hundred people. I guess they must pull the same trick as the
Graf Spee, slapping a few extra bits on the ships and changing
the registry numbers to make it look like they have more.
Although in the novel Picard travels enormous distances taking
months to traverse, he still finds time to bump into Janeway,
Data, Guinan, Troi and a plethora of other well known characters
which only gives the impression of either a ludicrously small
universe or a badly under manned Starfleet.
Bennett's masterpiece is his creation of Ariel, a Manraloth,
who Picard frees from a stasis bubble. Her initial innocent
persona soon changes as she becomes romantically attached
to Picard, until she finally becomes his nemesis - sounds
like most of my marriages. Bennett takes her through the full
emotional maturation process, from the playful naiveté of
childhood to burgeoning teenager sexuality and finally to
adulthood with its associated knowledge of responsibility
Overall a well written book that could have done with some
trimming in the second half.