The 34th Rule reads like watching
a regular episode of Deep Space Nine. I fell into the familiar
role of “watching” all the characters with ease. When there was
dialog, it was given with the perfect style characteristic of the person
who spoke. For Sisko, it was drawn out
but earnest, for Worf and Kira, short barks. For Quark, it was always
with a smile that said, “I know more about what you are talking about than
you do.” Their mannerisms were unique to themselves.
The novel takes place around the middle or the end of the fourth
season, after Grand Nagus Zek was “altered” by the Prophets (and, of course,
returned back to normal- though given later events in the series, I have
some doubts about that), and after the implementation of the communications
relay to the Gamma Quadrant through the wormhole. But it takes place
before Dukat forms an alliance with the Dominion, and before Rom and Leeta
The novel actually starts off pretty slow, with Quark monitoring
the biggest deal of his life. A lot of details were given that I
thought were unnecessary, and quite uninteresting, besides. We also
find out that the Grand Nagus has obtained an Orb of the Prophets that
he wants to sell to the Bajorans. But then he decides not to sell
it, which distresses and aggravates the Bajorans, who expel all Ferengi
from their space. This leads to a Ferengi blockade of Bajor, and
eventually to a proclamation of war.
All the while, Sisko tries to convince both sides to relent,
and is frustrated when nothing he does is enough. Quark and Rom defy
the eviction order, and are imprisoned and mistreated, but escape just
in time for Sisko to try one last time to diffuse the situation.
As has been mentioned before, this is probably the best and most
capably written Ferengi story ever done. All for profits, this is
definitely a Ferengi story, even though the Ferengi are absent for nearly
a third of the book, near the middle.
Unfortunately, the authors (one of whom plays Quark on DS9) fall
prey to Star Trek writers’ syndrome: Too much technobabble and a few plot
leaps, though the levels of both are far lower than for most episodes.
All the talk about profit left me wanting to skip a few pages,
as often happens on the TV show. Also, I found the prison camp descriptions
and the lunatic commander to be completely unnecessary. I figure
the authors wanted to keep the Ferengi in the story somehow, and find a
way for them to escape that was reasonably explicable. While the
escape was indeed well played, the setup for it was tortuous for me as
Overall, the story worked well, both as an episode of DS9, as
is conserved all continuity from the show, including character traits,
and as an entertaining story, using the characters we know and love.