Every now and then a Star Trek book comes out where they are stuck in the wilderness somehow and lucky for the TNG crew Worf is usually there. The twist to this story has a few turns here and there though. The first one is the diplomatic end of it that Captain Picard and the Enterprise are stuck in, how Commander Riker deals with the most annoying humanoid you can possibly find in the galaxy and then get stuck in the wilderness with him, the desperation of Geordi LaForge to get through the force field to the lost crew members, and then the red-headed doctor who has had enough of the diplomatic mess when people are dying. It all starts with a small world called Ntignano that had a perfect sun that is slowly dying and killing them along with it. Only the gravitational eddies are so strong that it would take weeks to map out a possible way of getting the people off the planet. They need the maps now and the only way they'll achieve that is through a neighboring species called the Tsorans.
Think of this species as Ferengi wanting to be Klingons. They are ruthless in their war-like ways, but they are short and over-confident. In agreement to let the Enterprise talk to them about these maps, they "ask" for some of the Starfleet officers to accompany their future leader on his 'coming of age' hunt on another planet especially contained for this reason and to keep their most dangerous animals alive. The Fandre home world has a specially marked off area of land meant to keep the animals in from the society and hunters out, but is opened up for a short time for the Tsoran prince Akarr to claim his "kaphoora" without harming any of the animals while still fulfilling his birth right. Commander Riker has the honor, if that's what you call it, of taking Akarr into the forest. Geordi LaForge goes along to look at their force field. The field does it's job by keeping people out and animals in, but the problem lies in passing through or communicating through the field when it's needed. It also affects the shuttle's performance and Riker is forced to crash land it in the woods. Now they have no shuttle and no way to communicate their trouble. Riker can only hope the small signal he gave makes it and calls attention to itself. Not only does Riker have to lead this ragged group of Tsorans through a wild forest with some of the most dangerous predators in the quadrant, but he has to put up with Akarr.
The Enterprise secretly is starting their own mapping that LaForge started before he left for Fandre while Picard is tip-toeing around the Tsoran king and queen. They keep putting off the discussions of the maps, but Picard keeps playing their little game. Even Picard comes to the point where can't take enough and is about to threaten if he has to when news of the shuttle crashing comes back to the Enterprise. LaForge rushes to find a miracle cure to a problem he was supposed to have days to work on while Lt. Worf goes in after the crash survivors and now Picard has a panicking royal family screaming at him for losing their son. Just when things couldn't get worse, their secret mapping is found out by the queen to add to the top of it all. Everything has blown up their face and Dr. Beverly Crusher is right there to remind them of how many lives are being lost in a day and how many more will die if they do not the maps soon.
I'm not a real big fan of these kind of stories. I understand the meaning of getting the characters off the ship and leaving them without weapons to survive is a twist to the normal series, but it's become almost normal in the books. I liked the diplomatic side of the story and I had to laugh a few times when it seemed that Captain Picard was about ready to choke the Ferengi-annoying-like race. I don't think Durgin put enough emphasis on the lives of the Ntignano people and some of the story was just repetitive. What was funny the first time around wasn't the fourth time around. Overall it's an all right book, but it's not near the top of my list of favorites.
Title: Tooth and Claw
Author: Doranna Durgin
Review by: CL5 Amanda Sielu Paris