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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Trek Novels - Star Trek: The Captain's Table - Dujonian's Hoard

Well, it’s the end… or the beginning of the year and I’ve decided to finally talk about this novel. I don’t know exactly why I took so long with reading this one. I guess it’s because there’s so much out there to do… or it could be I’m lazy. It could also be the book itself but I’ll get to that down below.  For those who don’t remember, I started a look at this small anthology series called The Captain’s Table. It revolves around a weird bar that captains can only enter. Last time, it was Captain Kirk and Captain Sulu. Today, it’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s turn to spin a tale.

Dujonian’s Hoard is written by Michael Jan Friedman. Friedman is no stranger to Trek. Not only had he written some Trek novels, he also wrote comics for the franchise with DC back in the 90’s. I’ve talked about some of the stuff he’s written here. As for when Picard’s visit and story takes place, I can’t tell. No stardates are given. Since events about Season Seven are mentioned, it has to take place after the show and before Star Trek Generations. Either way, it really doesn’t matter too much since the Enterprise actually doesn’t play a role here.

Star Trek: The Captain’s Table – Dujonian’s Hoard
Author: Michael Jan Friedman

BRIEF BLURB: During a conference on Madigoor IV, Captain Picard and a friend visit The Captain’s Table. At the bar, Picard tells some of the patrons a story about a recent undercover mission he took to find a former officer who was looking for a treasure.

SYNOPSIS
The story recaps about how the last book ended. Picard is at a conference with Captain Gleeson of the Zhuhov. They go to The Captain’s Table and get split up. After he gets in a sword fight with another captain, he finds a table of an assortment of other captains. They were telling their own stories about things.  Since he can’t find his friend, Picard passes the time by telling them a story full of adventure and a little bit of romance.

The story takes place a couple of months ago. Picard was tasked by Starfleet to look for Richard Brant, a former Starfleet officer.  He is out in quadrant looking for a hidden treasure called the Hoard of Dojonian. Brant apparently was kidnapped by mercenaries, so Starfleet want Picard to go undercover in order to look for him. Picard knows he’ll need help, so he gets Lt. Worf to accompany him on this mission. They book passage on a freighter to the Calibris sector. Under their disguises as Hill and Mitoc (sounds like a nice name for a detective show), they also find out that someone else is looking for Brant. Her name is Red Abby and she is the captain of The Daring. They end up boarding the freighter.

Picard and Worf do what they can to blend in with the crew but they do get into a bit of a scuffle with some of the crew. Abby puts an end to that though.  Things do get worrisome for the whole crew though. After a run-in with pirates, a Cardassian warship finds them and attacks them. They do what they can but the ship is boarded and the survivors are beamed over to the warship. The Daring is then destroyed by the Cardassians.

It turns out they are also looking for the Hoard. Ecor, the ship’s gul, also reveals Picard’s and Worf’s true identities. Obviously, Red Abby and her crew are miffed. It’s then revealed that Red Abby is Abby Brant, Richard Brant’s sister. The ship then head for Hel’s Gate, the place where the Hoard is supposedly being kept. During the voyage, Picard, Worf, and what’s left of the Daring crew stage a takeover of the ship. They succeed but a Romulan warbird decides to join the fun and attack the warship. They transport over to the warbird and are able to take the bridge. They then threatened the rest of the Romulans to evacuate the ship or they’ll die. Of course, the not-so-logical Romulans do so in haste.

Picard, Abby, and the rest of the crew then head to Hel’s Gate, a distortion in space. Unfortunately, they find more pirates around, so they’re forced to take them through the Gate. Hel’s Gate is tough to get through, but they do make it without the pirate ships following them. They find themselves in an unexplored part of the universe. As they get their bearings straight, they find more trouble in the form of Abinarri. They control this sector of space and they’re not nice either. Picard and crew do defeat the Abinarri ships and head to an inhabited world. There, they find an Orion ship and Richard Brant.

It turns out that Richard Brant found the Hoard here and has gotten himself involved with the politics of the sector. A group of rebels are opposing the Abinarri and Brant has joined them. Picard and Abby see the Hoard which is hidden underground. Picard is even allowed to take a jewel from the Hoard.  Unfortunately, the fun doesn’t last as Abinarri ships aren’t far from the planet. Picard and Abby transport back to the warbird to help the rebels but they get a taste of mutiny from some of the crew. After they deal with that, they and the rebels fight off the Abinarri and win.

Afterwards, things settle down a bit. Abby decides to stay with the rebels and help them. She tries to get Picard to stay but he is a Federation man, after all. Picard then ends his story. While his patrons question the story’s validity, Gleeson shows up. Those two leave The Captain’s Table. We then switch bases completely and find Captain Benjamin Sisko on Bajor. He’s been ordered by Dr. Bashir to get a small break from the Dominion War. He finds The Captain’s Table on Bajor and… well, that’s a story for another time. The book ends with some words on Picard.

OPINION
This was a nice read. As I said before, I don’t know why it took me so long to read this one. Either way, I can say it was time well spent. The story was pretty good for the most part. It kind of felt like an Indiana Jones movie but it’s without Nazis.  Wait, there are Cardassians in it and the Abinarri are douches, so maybe there are Nazis in it. One thing I do like about it is that it takes Picard down the “Man of Action” route this time. While he is the ultimate diplomat, this gets to play around with him a little bit. It really reminds me of episodes like “Captain’s Holiday”, “Gambit”, and “The Chase.” I guess you can throw “Die Hard In Space” (that one where he was alone on the Enterprise-D) in that list as well.

 It was also cool that Worf was around doing his thing. I do wish he got some more to do, but the story is Picard’s after all. “Red Abby” was alright for the most part. She definitely felt like someone that Picard could fall for. I thought the scenes of them together were nice. I also liked the framing sequences around Picard’s story. The characters were pretty funny.

As for any problems, there weren’t too many. I did wish we got more of the actual crew, but that’s a nitpick. I did like that most of them have a mention at least. I did think the framing sequences with the bar were a bit jarring. Constantly switching back to the bar every few pages did get annoying at times. I also think that it can get a little dull at times. It was mostly like this in the first half of the book. It may be why it took me so long to read the dang thing.

Overall, it was a nice read. It provided a different look at Picard. Well, we are at the end of 2016. If you’re reading this in the far future, just know that 2016 was… alright. Don’t believe everything MTV tells ya. Anyway, Peace, God Bless, and don’t get too wild out there. Also, who thinks "The Adventures of Hill and Mitoc" could make a good sitcom?

Fan-fic writers! Get to work!

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