Round Two of the Classic Review Threads.
TNG: Death in Winter by Michael Jan Friedman
Long before Captain Jean-Luc Picard took command of the legendary Starship Enterprise,™
he fell deeply and hopelessly in love with Doctor Beverly Crusher. Though, for one reason or another, Picard never acted on his feelings, he found a measure of contentment as Beverly's close friend, colleague, and daily breakfast partner.
But when Doctor Crusher leaves her position on the Enterprise
to become the chief medical officer of Starfleet, the brightest light in Picard's life is taken from him. And he has hardly resigned himself to his loss when he learns that Beverly has been declared missing in action on a distant planet -- and presumed dead.
Kevratas is a bleak, frozen world on the far side of the Romulan Neutral Zone where the Federation has become the plague-ravaged natives' only real hope of survival and freedom. Starfleet has no recourse but to send in another team to try to save the Kevrata -- and Picard is the natural choice. Critical to the success of his mission are two colleagues who served under him when he commanded the Starship Stargazer
-- Pug Joseph, a man with a past to live down, and Doctor Carter Greyhorse, who has served time for attempted murder -- as well as a Romulan who left his people years earlier and never expected to return. Together, they follow the trail of Beverly Crusher to Kevratas, determined to succeed where the doctor failed.
On the Romulan homeworld, meanwhile, the political vacuum created by the demise of Praetor Shinzon has been filled by his staunchest supporter, Senator Tal'aura. But there are those who oppose her, including Commander Donatra and the warbird fleets under her command, because of the way Tal'aura has mishandled rebellions on the Empire's subject worlds.
And one rebellion in particular; the movement for self-determination on frigid Kevratas.
So begins a desperate struggle -- not only for the freedom of the long-oppressed Kevrata but also for the soul of the Romulan Empire. Before it's over, destinies will be forged and shattered, the Empire will be shaken to its ancient foundations, and Jean-Luc Picard's life will be changed...forever.
My Review from 2005:
An utter disappointment.
“Death in Winter” fails in more than one way. First of all it fails in delivering something every novel should provide : an interesting plot. All you get here is a generic plot seen more often than you can count in TrekLit history : The Federation must provide cure to a disease to a planet under enemy rule. I can accept that there are only so many basic plot concepts authors can draw from, so I could have lived with another story of that sort, if the actual story would offer something interesting or innovative. But sadly “Death in Winter” is one of the most 08/15 stories of this kind I’ve ever seen, there is nothing distinctive in it. The second failure is the final (?) resolution of the Picard/Crusher “Friendship or love affair?” problem. I don’t think it was a wise choice to bring these two together as a pair. The little bit of interest their relation created mainly resulted from their kind of relation up til now, the kind of friendship with the promise for more. By bringing the two together their relation is just another normal love affair. The third point of failure is that Friedman wasn’t able to finally provide Crusher with an interesting story. She is one of the most underused characters among the main casts of Star Trek and the author failed to give her part of the story anything unique or outstanding. But the most ridiculous part of the novel is the involvement of Worf and Geordi. It seems more like an afterthought of Friedman and Margaret Clark (editor of the book) that it might be a good idea to bring the two other remaining senior officers into the first post-Nemesis (Sort of) novel, too. But their scenes remain totally unattached to the bigger picture and Janeway’s cameo is just unnecessary. The involvement of the two former Stargazer officers Greyhorse and Joseph is a mixed event. While Joseph’s participation remains somewhat pointless, Greyhorse’s role in the novel is one of the few at least partly interesting parts of the story. But is inner uncertainty after his long time in prison isn’t explored thoroughly enough in my opinion, there was potential for more. The parts of the novels rescuing it a bit are the parts about the inner Romulan turmoil. Although they aren’t really innovative, too, they at least provide some interesting looks on the Romulan homeland post Shinzon.
Overall a more than rocky start into the post Nemesis TNG fiction and the continuation of a dangerous downward trend in the quality of Michael Jan Friedman’s novels.