Iktoj'ni, the freighter on which former Stargazer
ensign Andreas Nikolas is currently serving, has been taken
over by a monstrous alien with unbelievable powers. Picard's
only hope of stopping the alien menace is Serenity Santana,
a woman who once abused his trust...
sixth novel in Michael Jan Friedman's Stargazer series
gets off to a better start than his previous one, Enigma,
did. Picking up where its predecessor's cliffhanger ending
left off, Maker kicks off with Andreas Nikolas discovering
that all his Iktoj'ni crewmates have been killed and
that a powerful alien of the Nuyyad race has taken over the
before, there are copious references back to previous stories.
Aside from the direct continuation of Nikolas's arc, this
is also a sequel to The Valiant, a book that was pretty
much the pilot of the Stargazer series, which was itself
a sequel to the Original Series episode Where No
Man Has Gone Before. As with The Valiant, the energy
barrier at the edge of the galaxy comes into play, having
transformed a Nuyyad into a god-like entity. Picard also rekindles
his uneasy romance with the beautiful but untrustworthy Serenity
Santana. Meanwhile, Nikolas is still struggling to get over
the loss of his Mirror Universe lover, Gerda Idun, from the
novel Three. All this continuity may seem off-putting,
but Friedman explains everything clearly for any newcomers
- and any sequel to the classic Where No Man automatically
carries great appeal.
primary plot is rather slender, largely consisting of the
transformed Nuyyad, Brakmaktin, using his newfound mental
powers to commit one atrocity after another, including mass
murder and, in one extremely gruesome scene, stripping the
flesh from a helpless man's bones.
the story is liberally peppered with sub-plots, including
Picard's concern that he will soon be stripped of his command.
We as readers know that this will not happen, because the
television episode The Battle tells us that he commanded
the vessel until shortly before the start of The Next Generation,
but the threat of it pushes the character forward. Rather
than make him timid, the captain's belief that his days are
numbered only makes his command decisions bolder.
The author constantly reminds us that this is a much younger
Picard than the one in TNG. This process includes several
unsubtle references to the fact that the captain has a full
head of hair!
plot pretty much grinds to a halt about 40 pages from the
end, as Picard finally faces the enquiry that he is convinced
will cost him his command. Though we know this won't happen,
there is some intrigue as to how the captain can possibly
escape this fate.
While it can hardly be said to boldly go where no book has
gone before, Maker makes for an entertaining way to
while away a few hours.
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