I got to thinking of this when I read the "Picard's rank?" thread, in the TNG forum.
AFAIK, the Stargazer
series states that Picard - a Lt. Cmdr. at the time - was made the Captain of the ship when its original CO (Daithan Ruhalter) was killed, and the original XO (Stephen Leach) wounded and comatose. Can this really be true, though? An early TNG episode - might have been the pilot, I can't remember - mentioned that Picard was once an XO. (Something about Riker's refusal to let Picard beam down to a planet. Riker says that because Picard was once an XO himself, he'd understand the reasoning behind it.)
So even after the Stargazer
's two most senior officers were out of action, Picard couldn't have immediately become Captain, because we'd already been told he spent some time as an XO first. Do the novels explain this?