Three by Michael Jan Friedman
Like The Valiant, Three takes an element from TOS and imagines what might have happened to it in the years between Kirk and young Picard. In this case, the element is the mirror universe that Kirk visited via a transporter malfunction. Alternate histories and crossovers seem to be an irresistible element of the Star Trek canon, so I am not surprised to see it show up in Friedman’s Stargazer series.
The story was okay, but the plot and action did not move quite as dramatically as it has in previous books. Aside from providing more character development with the Asmunds and Ensign Nikolas, the book adds nothing to the story of the USS Stargazer and her crew.
The Valiant by Michael Jan Friedman
I was a little concerned when most of the way through the first chapter I realized that the inspiration for the story came from the TOS episode entitled “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Given that this was the second pilot episode of the original series, I should probably temper my opinion of it; however, I still don’t care for the episode’s treatment of the characters as compared to what they would become.
That said, this turned out to be a better story than I hoped. Since I have managed to read out of order most of Friedman’s stories about Picard and the Stargazer, I already knew some of what was going to happen, but that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the book.
The book opens with a more detailed exposition of the events that occurred on the SS Valiant more than two centuries before Kirk’s Enterprise discovers the ships recorder that was sent back towards Earth before its destruction. The story then shifts to the USS Stargazer, almost three-hundred years after the events on the Valiant. Lieutenant Commander Picard is serving as second officer, and even in that position several of the crew, including the first officer, think he is too young and inexperienced.
This becomes even more of an issue when the captain is killed and the first officer is incapacitated. Through the course of events, Picard is forced to assume command, and although the story is presumably about the galactic barrier and the ramifications of the events on the Valiant, it really shines best as the story of Picard trying on the shoes of command and finding that they fit perfectly.