Read again? Yes.
Another "Giant Novel," and another book that depends upon the Guardian of Forever to drive the plot. Also, another book by Peter David. Used to be my favorite, but after his "Vendetta" (link to it) Giant Novel, I don't know, I-just-don't...know! [/Shatner] I wasn't looking forward to reading it. Turns out I was wrong.
It's an epic story of boy human meets girl alien. Admiral William Riker is 73, commanding the "dead-end" Starbase 86. He's graying, no longer caring about his looks or his life, too apathetic to eat a phaser, because of a few moments decades ago, aboard the USS Enterprise.
He's summoned to Betazed, the home of his former love Deanna Troi, long dead from unknown causes. Her mother is at the end of her own life. She has never forgiven Riker for her daughter's untimely death--and she doesn't care that he's never forgiven himself. She blames him with her last breath.
Riker explains Deanna's last days to Captain Wesley Crusher (bahahahaha!!): Enterprise was on a diplomatic mission, brokering peace between the warlike Sindareen and representatives of several worlds they victimized. Deanna goes into convulsions and dies before reaching Sickbay.
That was the end of Riker's life.
Then we're taken to see the beginning: Lieutenant Riker is assigned (briefly) as Starfleet Liaison to Betazed. He attends a wedding in this capacity and sees the most entrancing dark-eyed exotic beauty: Deanna Troi, the maid of honor. She's an Empath, so right away she knows what this womanizing human is after. She plays impossible to get.
The great pleasure of this novel is that Deanna Troi isn't a stereotypical weakling woman in need of rescuing. She's strong-willed, highly intelligent, and can take care of herself--traits that she rarely got to show in "The Next Generation."
That said, Admiral Riker uses the Guardian to change the course of time. Normally I really dislike stories driven by time-travel like this, but David's approach works. I'd forgotten how very good this book is, and it's an unexpected pleasure to read.
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