Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Imzadi

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Imzadi by Peter David
Published August 1992

Read September 30th 2013


Previous book (The Next Generation - unnumbered): Reunion
Next book (The Next Generation - unnumbered): The Devil's Heart

Previous book (The Next Generation - published order): #22: Imbalance
Next book (The Next Generation - published order): #23: War Drums

Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Imzadi is also available as part of an omnibus, Imzadi Forever, along with the sequel, Imzadi II.

Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Imazdi!

From the back cover:
Years before they served together on board the U.S.S. Enterprise, Commander William Riker and ship's counselor Deanna Troi had a tempestuous love affair on her home planet of Betazed. Now, their passions have cooled, and they serve together as friends. Yet the memories of that time linger and Riker and Troi remain Imzadi - a powerful Betazoid term that describes the enduring bond they still share. 
During delicate negotiations with an aggressive race called the Sindareen, Deanna Troi mysteriously falls ill... and dies. But her death is only the beginning of the adventure for Commander Riker -- an adventure that will take him across time, pit him against one of his closest friends, and force him to choose between Starfleet's strictest rule and the one he calls Imzadi.
My thoughts:

From the very beginning of The Next Generation, Riker and Troi were introduced as former lovers whose affair still meant a great deal to both of them. Many fans speculated about their prior relationship, but very little was ever revealed about it, save a few small details. In Imzadi, we finally learn about the circumstances surrounding their early relationship, and why it ended prior to their reunion aboard the Enterprise.

From their first appearance together in "Encounter at Farpoint," fans have been curious about the early days of Riker and Troi's relationship. Imzadi endeavors to answer those questions.
Imzadi begins in the future, in which a depressed and sour Admiral Riker commands an insignificant starbase in the middle of nowhere. Riker's career and life have taken a nose-dive following the death of Deanna Troi years earlier. However, when he learns that there exists an alternate timeline in which Deanna didn't die, Riker takes matters into his own hands and hatches a plot to use the Guardian of Forever to travel back in time to prevent her death.

I admit to always having been curious about the unseen Riker-Troi relationship, and while I always imagined something a little more long-term and deeper than what is depicted in Imzadi, Peter David does an excellent job filling in the blanks for us. He writes a young Lieutenant Riker with just the right amount of cockiness and bravado, and his young Deanna Troi was very well-written as well. I was especially impressed with where David took the character of Lwaxana Troi, however. With the possible exception of the episode "Dark Page," Lwaxana has never had the depth with which she is written here. The tragedy of the loss of Deanna at an early age is keenly felt by both Mrs. Troi and the reader.

Interestingly, I found that Imzadi paralled the series finale of TNG, "All Good Things..." in a number of surprising ways. For one, Riker's future career path as a jaded, disgruntled admiral features in both. In addition, the premature death of Deanna Troi is a plot point in both stories. I'm not suggesting that Imzadi in any way influenced "All Good Things...," but the parallels are interesting to note.

This story and the TNG finale, "All Good Things...," feature some interesting parallels.

Final thoughts:

Several times while reading Imzadi, I was completely surprised by where Peter David took the story. Unpredictable and always interesting, Imzadi is arguably one of the best Star Trek novels out there. In a recent edition of his article "Ten For Ward" at StarTrek.com, author Dayton Ward included Imzadi on his list of Trek novels for the new Star Trek reader. Imzadi was the recommendation of his fellow author David Mack, who said that “its ending is also one of the best I've ever read in a Star Trek novel.” I find myself in complete agreement with this statement. Imzadi is a must-read for any Trek fan.

Also by Peter David:

My next read:

The next book on my catch-up list for 2013 is Deep Space Nine: Mission Gamma, Book One: Twilight by David R. George III. While it is called "Twilight," I promise that no sparkly pseudo-vampires will make an appearance.

Until next time, live long and prosper!