This was the very first Star Trek book I ever read and I didn't like it the first time. I think I was too young to understand the depth that Hamilton has put into this book. I picked it up years later and forced myself to open it to the first chapter. From then on, this book called me and I was never forced again. The same old story of a planet being involved in a war that is destroying the environment starts the story out, but this book follows anything but the same old story from then on.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Lt. Worf, and Counselor Deanna Troi beam down to meet with the warring parties. The second they beam down, they start to notice the toll this war has taken on this planet. This planet, Oriana, has been through two hundred years of war and this is all these people have known. Worf finds himself disgusted at the 'dishonor' of their warriors, but Troi and Picard's disgust goes a bit further than that. The planet is so badly damaged that to have a healthy baby is beyond luck, everyone wears gas masks in fear they might have to rush outside with a bombing into their hazardous air, and personal sentinels are assigned to every important person on the planet.
Picard and the others even receive their own sentinel, Breck. He follows the Enterprise away team through their late night adventures in discovering hidden nightmares beyond what they had already experienced. The Enterprise and Commander William Riker are called away for the amusing part of the story for the reader and frustrating for the crew. They are called to help a ship of the Miligians, a race that the Federation has no record of. This race is somehow connected to their ship and it's more than just a ship of circuits as Dr. Crusher and LaForge find out.
Meanwhile, the captain is accused of murdering one of the generals and aiding a party the Enterprise away team discovered on one of their midnight adventures. Worf is now the Federation ambassador and Troi is at this side to aid him in finding the real murderer before Picard is killed for the crime. A very complicated and intricate scheme is slowly unveiled as the author shows us that the problem is much deeper than just a simple assassination. People not suspected are culprits. Events not related are shown to be very much involved with the whole picture.
Hamliton did a wonderful job creating a totally different world than we, as Star Trek fans and many of us being citizens of peace-time countries, are use to. He spins a web of treachery, detail, pride, and mystery that takes both the Enterprise crew and reader on a journey. The emotions spill from the page and, I, as a reader still can't forget how they touched me. I'm glad I gave this book a second chance, because this time I understood what I didn't so long ago. I give this book five pips, because the detail of Oriana was something I expected from an episode, not a monthly book. This book is sure to open some eyes and touch the hearts of whoever 'forces' themselves to open to the first chapter.
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Review by: CL5 Amanda Sielu Paris