Extremely well written, and I enjoyed
the plots, as well. I only think the authors didn't go far enough with
the Defiant crew.
The fast-paced style is a nice change from the slow and plodding
stuff we got in the last two books. It is very familiar, and I wonder if
that is, simply, because it feels so much like an episode of the TV
series. There is plenty of action, lots of thought-provoking events, and
some development of the main characters, as well!
The plot in the Gamma Quadrant was the most interesting, and took
most of the book. The Defiant intervenes in a dispute between two
species who are firing upon each other, and offers to help repair the
smaller damaged ship. Meanwhile, Bashir, Ezri and Nog are on a survey
mission when they encounter a strange structure that oscillates in and
out of different dimensions.
The interesting parts occur when those three start having strange
symptoms. Ezri starts getting spacesick again, and eventually her body
rejects the Dax symbiont. Nog's leg, which had been amputated during the
Dominion War, starts to grow back. Bashir's genetic engineering starts
reversing itself. The authors explore the way these characters react to
Bashir gets the bulk of the story. There was way too much
technobabble as he was describing his condition, and way too much when
he was treating Ezri and Dax. However, Bashir becomes angry and panics
at losing himself. Even before he re-entered the Cathedral, however, I
think he started coming to terms with who he really is.
As I did in Abyss, this is a good place for
me to rant over my interpretation of the DS9 writers decision to make
Bashir genetically engineered. I think they go out of their way to
explain why a person is so smart, when they didn't need to. He could be
naturally intelligent! However, they did come up with some amazing
stories about his genetic engineering, that I could forgive them. In
this story, Bashir seems to regress too far. He becomes simple-minded. I
hoped he would not degenerate into an imbecile. Even if he went back to
the person he would have been without the advanced genes, he should have
been able to think about complex things. However, I realized before he
did that he probably overshot his childhood, because he was so advanced to begin with.
Did he fall so far because he started off so high? I think so.
So Bashir's fall was interesting in the way he panicked. He was able
to regain some of his dignity, however, by continuing to go to work, and
at least trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy. At other times,
he sat in his room, worrying about losing his mind altogether. I wish he
would have thought about O'Brien once in a while. (Speaking of which, I
have to reiterate that I'd love to see him again -soon.)
The resolution, with Bashir running around the hospital and rescuing
his younger self from the procedure, was very strange, but satisfying.
He seemed to bounce around to a lot of different alternate realities
compared to the others. In one, his genetic engineering went awry, and
he ended up with Jack and the others (whom I wasn't too pleased to see
again). I liked the way he came to terms with the fact that Jules
was still inside him, and that the man was not somebody to hide from or
be ashamed of. Still, he seemed to start to come to that realization
when he shifted into another reality before going back to the Cathedral:
Jules seemed to be a very happy person, and he might like to become that
person, given the chance. Great!
The other interesting aspect of Bashir was his memory cathedral. I
loved the way he kept everything organized in rooms and shelves, and
they way they were boarded up when he started to regress. It was like an
actual physical place.
The other person who became really interesting was Nog. As would be
expected, he was more than happy to get his real leg back -ecstatic,
really. I loved his guilt at feeling so happy, considering what Bashir
and Ezri were going through. I think it was a real cliché that all three
of them had to go back to the cathedral to reverse its effects. It seems
a little convenient that Nog starts fluctuating into another universe,
forcing him into the cathedral. It would have been a really cool subplot
and a fresh start if they let Nog keep his leg. However, the thought
that he might be willing to sacrifice the others for his leg was
appealing enough. Nog's restoration was very weird. What about putting
him back on Ferenginar? Instead, he stands around and lets an image of
Taran'atar cut his leg off again. Very strange.
Ezri gets the short shrift in this book. She gets the clichéd
feelings of being useless, the same clichéd stuff she went through when
she arrived on DS9 to begin with. She feels inadequate, since she was
given the job of first officer because of her huge experience -as Dax. I
would have expected serious depression after she had just gotten used to
the symbiont, not just an empty feeling inside. As expected, Vaughn's
talk to her is just and straight. She should have enough of her
memories, and perhaps even enough residual memories from Dax, to do her job. She
has bolstered her own self confidence over the last year and a half, not Dax's, that she could easily stay on the command track. Ezri faced her
fears, in an interesting way: through her mother, she personified her
last doubts about being joined. It wasn't quite satisfying enough,
As for the Dax symbiont, what secret has it been hiding for 125
years? Perhaps it was an event that took place in The Lives of Dax,
which I have not yet read.
And the aliens they met at the beginning of the book? The race they helped actually wants to destroy the artifact, though they don't figure this out until the end, as the
universal translator takes a very long time to work out the language,
and the aliens are not very forthcoming. I liked the mention of Sato
translation routines -yay, Hoshi! The other aliens, for their part,
think of the artifact as a cathedral (as did everybody who first saw it
in the book!), and won't let the away team go back inside to fix their
problems, because they think Vaughn will try an destroy it, as they have one of the enemy
aliens on board. Nog and Shar
find a way around this by using self-replicating transporter pods on the cometary bodies nearby, reminiscent of the self-replicating mines used
in the TV show. I hope they destroyed them on the way out of the system.
The destroyers turn on the Defiant when the crew won't yield transporter
technology, for it would be used to send explosives inside. These aliens
actually have a natural organ that can communicate through subspace, so
have been kept up to date all through the mission! Shar's antennae make
themselves useful figuring this out.
Speaking of Shar, he gets to unburden himself about Thriss' death to
Nog, after being reclusive for most of the book.
Back on the station, only about a day passes through the book, and
most of it is spent waiting for Bajor to sign the Federation entrance
papers. Everybody continues to wonder about their place in a Federation
that considers them to be outsiders.
Kira gets a lot of unwanted exposure, as the religious schism she
created back in Avatar sees the alternate religion wanting her
reinstated into the faith. Her situation is very interesting, as she
does not want to join the alternate faith, but believes in their
open-minded ways, nonetheless. Her faith is so very strong, and her
introspection was a very interesting part of the book. It was neat to
see so many characters from the series continue to pop up, including the
woman who had a baby with Dukat in the Pagh wraith cult.
Ro and Quark, meanwhile, continue to debate what they will do when
the Federation takes over. Ro is unwanted in Starfleet, which makes her
situation very interesting. I can't believe the writers put her in the
series only to take her out again so quickly. I sincerely wonder what
kind of journey she will be going on. Quark, of course, does not plan to
stay around when the money-less Federation arrives, so he and Ro decide
to go into business together, during their date at Vic's. What kind of
business, I don't know, but that's for future stories to tell.
One of the continuing plots of this series is the reconciliation
between Bajor and Cardassia, before it entered the Federation. Everybody
seems to think it necessary, but Shakaar kept delaying it. Vedik Yevir,
who we've grown to dislike in this "season" of the show, takes it upon
himself to go to Cardassia and seek the peace that the diplomats failed
to bring about. It was nice to see Garak again, if only briefly, and
that he is still going about the restoration of Cardassia after
in Time. He helps Yevir and the Cardassian religious order find the last
missing Orbs of the Prophets.
This is the way the book should have ended. I don't see the need for
the cliff-hangers. However, at least one was a great cliff-hanger, turning the
station part of the plot of this series on its head. About to sign the
documents bringing Bajor into the Federation, Shakaar is murdered!
The Trill assassin, in charge of security for the ambassadors, played
Ro so very well. Quark was suspicious, but only because he was jealous
of the attention that Gard gave Ro. The man flirted with her endlessly,
and was handsome, perfectly picked for the part. Now, the question is
why? Might it have something to do with the green box Shakaar was fondling in
his quarters, and his strange behavior? People seem to think that Gard
left the station, but with the shields up, I doubt it. Regardless, if I
hadn't been ready to read the next book right away after this one, this
would have caught my interest...
The other cliff-hanger comes out of nowhere, in that Joseph Sisko,
wasting away after his son and grandson disappeared so close to each
other, is discovered unconscious in his garden. It really has nothing to
do with the entire series, but is part of an ongoing plot that I suppose
has to be dealt with. Again, we'll see where this leads.
I liked this book a lot. The tension on the station side of the plot,
and the talk about faith, was quite powerful. The Defiant side of the
story gave the characters some great moments to think about who they
actually are. I liked Vaughn's thought that they were turning into
alternate versions of themselves, from other timelines. Unfortunately,
very few of the Cathedral experiences were really completely satisfying.
I also wonder how the Defiant's mission could be only 50% over, with
one tiny book left in the Mission Gamma series. Shouldn't Vaughn cut the
mission short as the replicators are no longer working? It seems
unreasonable to continue when they no longer have the means of creating
spare parts for repairs, even if they have enough meals to survive.