The sixth book in the “A Time To” Star Trek: TNG series.

Publication year: 2004
Format: print
Page count: 338 and an excerpt from the next book
Publisher: Pocket Books

The planet Tezwa near Klingon border was one of Federation’s secret weapons in the Dominion War. Fearing that the Dominion would either infiltrate or conquer the Klingons, a few Federation officials get the Tezwan Prime Minister Kinchawn massive weapons to build on the planet in exchange for material aid to use for the whole planet. Unfortunately for the officials, Kinchawn turns out to be a power hunger despot. He has replaced many of the leading Tezwan military men with his supporters and has also a majority vote in the planet’s ruling body, the Assembly. He’s afraid of the Klingons and decides to challenge them. He declares that Tezwa takes over a Klingon border colony. Not surprisingly, Chancellor Martok sends an attack force to show his displeasure. The Federation officials don’t want their secret weapons dealings to come to light and they send the Enterprise-E to negotiate. During the negotiation, Kinchawn kills the leader of the Klingon force and takes Picard and Troi captive.

The Klingons retaliate and the Enterprise is able to rescue the Starfleet captives. Unfortunately, Kinchawn uses the pulse cannons and destroys the Klingon fleet. Klingon retaliation is imminent and even with the cannons and a secret fleet of starships, Kinchawn is likely to loose. Also, the debris from the destroyed Klingon fleet has created an ecological disaster to the planet.

Federation’s president Zife orders Captain Picard to destroy the cannon’s planet side firebases by any means necessary. If the Klingons conquer the planet, they will find out about the cannons and will declare war on the Federation. Picard is dismayed but has no choice but to obey. He sends several four person strike teams to the planet. He also needs help from his old comrade, Ambassador Worf, to disable the Klingon fleet.

A Time to Kill moves at a good pace with short chapters. There’s plenty of action with the strike teams but also a lot of political maneuvering. We get to see Kinchawn plotting his rise to a dictator and the way his Deputy Prime Minister Bilok with his allies are trying to oppose him. Federation’s leaders are agonizing over their past decisions, some of them are covering their tracks, and a shadowy group of people are keeping an eye out on everyone. I’m guessing that they are the infamous Section 31 whom I don’t really care for. Worf also has to, again, choose between his loyalty to Picard and the greater good, and his own honor. The poor guy can’t get a break.

Characterization is spot on. However, Troi’s contact with Riker is curiously muted from the previous books where she could not only sense that he’s alive but if he’s in danger from orbit while he’s on a planet. Now, she can’t. Crusher and Troi seen only in a few scenes while they had big roles in the previous books. Also, some of the ongoing plotlines were ignored in favor of the Tezwan crisis.

It’s mentioned that the Federation is in a middle of an economic crisis because of the Dominion War. I’m not sure how they can have an economic crisis without a money based system but I’ve never been able to figure out just how Federation’s economics work. (I just know that I’d really, really liked to live in one.) It seems to me that, to some degree at least, their economy must be based on available energy for the replicators, but wouldn’t that be an energy shortage, then?

The politicians are a great contrast to each other. Federation’s president Zife and his aide Azernal are ready to cheat, kill, and lie to prevent a war between Federation and the Klingons. Admittedly, Zife is reluctant to sacrifice lives to that goal but he does it anyway. Meanwhile, Martok is determined to avenge everyone of his warriors and do it honorably but ruthlessly. And Kinchawn will do anything to further his personal goals, even sacrificing his own family. Which one would you like running your country?