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FERENGINAR / DOMINION

A novel by Keith R.A. DeCandido and David R. George III (2005, Pocket Books)
The Worlds of Deep Space Nine Book 3

Quark is drawn into a plot to remove his brother from power, as Odo searches for a way to bring peace to his people.

 

 

Read February 12th to 20th, 2008  
   

As much as it seems strange to say, I liked the Ferengi story better than the Dominion one. I was never much for Ferengi stories on Deep Space Nine, but here they are treated with dignity and honor. The Rules of Acquisition are stated so many times, but they are used to good effect, instead of being used to justify plot points.

In Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed, there is a plot underway to get rid of Rom as Grand Nagus, because Quark is not the only Ferengi who doesn't like the modernization of their society. The ultimate undoing of their plan comes because they choose Brunt as the replacement. If it had been any other Ferengi, Quark probably would have supported them, because he would be all for going back to the old ways, just not under the Ferengi who has made it his life's mission to make Quark's life miserable.

In fact, almost every Ferengi we've met on the show, certainly all the members of the Magnificent Ferengi, appear here. Zek is losing his mind, so he shows up to condemn Rom as well -because the one who keeps him sane, Quark's mother Ishka, is spending so much time helping Rom. For Rom is more interested, of course, in Leeta's pregnancy, which is coming to term. As things get worse (the baby's head is too large, being partly Ferengi), Rom spends more time with Leeta, and less time defending himself. The main motivation for getting the public to reject Rom is the idea that he had broken his marriage contract with his first wife. Rom thinks it's possible, because he didn't read the contract. I'm surprised that it takes so long for anybody, much less Ro, to think of the Rule of Acquisition that would acquit him immediately: the a contract is a contract is a contract -but only between Ferengi. So even if Rom and his first wife were still legally bound, Rom's marriage to a Bajoran wouldn't be recognized anyway, so he wouldn't have breached the contract.

Still, it's fun to see everybody go to the various places to fit the pieces together and clear Rom's name. Quark's contact actually breaks into the Ferengi contract vault to retrieve the original contract, proving the one that Brunt produced was a fake, but a very good fake by the forger Quark used at the beginning of the story. Ro shows off her investigation skills as she tracks accounts and transactions which indicates that it is a fake in the first place.

The characters are very real and extremely well developed. The situation is serious, but as Ro and Kira say, what happens on Ferenginar could have repercussions across the quadrant -not big ones, but something, inevitably. This is the first time we've been to Ferenginar in all its glory, and seen it from an outsider's point of view. We see how everybody can live with the Rules and still live in peace. This author actually makes their culture less of a caricature and more real. And, for the record, Rom and Leeta have a strange-looking baby girl, named Bena ("joy" in Bajoran, but "underflooring" in Ferengi).

The second story actually merges more with the overall DS9 relaunch story arc. In Olympus Descending, we get a strange look at the Dominion's Great Link, and some history behind it. I think the author is doing a little too much rewriting of the Founders, however, and I didn't believe all of it, much like Odo. I suppose, the authors wanted to get rid of a potential threat, once and for all. Where we didn't get the annihilation of the Founders in the season finale, a year later they have dissolved the Great Link, so it doesn't matter anyway. In other words, if the Dominion War had lasted another year, the Founders would have abandoned everything anyway, and there would have only been the Vorta and Jem'hadar to worry about, and without any Founders to give them orders, the war would have quickly ended anyway. That, I think, is what bothers me most about this story.

Odo went back to the Great Link to try and make them understand mutual trust and respect, and to learn all he could from them. Instead, he spent half that time away searching for an Ascendant, and when he returns, they all leave. He has barely learned anything about them, and now he has lost his chance.

If the premise can be accepted, that the Founders have been searching for their God, their creator, then the introspection that we get is well done, regardless. We only get the story from Odo's point of view, but he interacts with Laas and another Founder he calls Indurane. I suppose we can't even imagine what communication within the Great Link is like, but the author's descriptions, while interesting and somewhat vivid, seem inadequate. Rather than playing charades, I would think understanding would be more immediate than communication with words. Odo's "discussions" seem less so.

Over the course of the story, Laas demands to know the real reason why the Founders sent out the Hundred changelings, and they discover that it was to lure the Progenitor back to them. It turns out that the changelings could not reproduce, so unless they can convince the Progenitor to help them gain that capability, they are a dying race. Although Odo had trouble believing that the Founders believed in a god, I'm surprised that he didn't mention the fact that the Progenitor didn't have to be a god, but just an advanced race that could bring life into being, or alter it from its original form. After all, the Jem'hadar and the Vorta are examples of that kind of manipulation, and the Founders know how they created those races, even though they are not gods. They have a basis for reasoning out their existence.

Through the soul searching, Odo discovers that the Progenitor was prophesized to come when a nova lit the Founder sky. Indeed one has, but it turns out the Ascendants had destroyed the star, and the Progenitor with it. I wonder how that prophecy was supposed came to pass, and how the nova was supposed to show up if not triggered artificially- or was it the death of the Progenitor what characterized the prophecy, after all? Who made the prophecy, anyway? Odo and several other Founders travel to the nova to make these discoveries. After their initial shock and disappointment, the Founders decide they have nothing left to live for, so they dissolve the Great Link and each goes their own way, isolating themselves from each other. I wonder, then, what will happen to those parts of the Link that were not "fully formed".

In essence, what is left of the Dominion power base is now Odo and Laas. Ordinarily, Odo would fashion it into a benign empire, but with a zealotous Ascendant on the loose nearby, with the capability to destroy a star, at the least, he will need as ruthless an empire as possible to defeat them.

The other part of this story sees Taran'atar finally lose his sanity. He and Kira travel to the prison where the female Founder is being held, because he wants to see if she can shed some light on his predicament, of observing the Alpha Quadrant species. He is intolerant to the point of hating every last one of these people, and now starts hating himself, for his immunity to the ketracel white drug dependence, and especially the resulting sleep-dependence it has created in him. She gives him no answers, nearly dismissing him out of hand, except stating that the Founders are not gods. I suppose her isolation has really affected her, as Taran'atar suggests.

The sequence where he rescues the Founder and kills Kira strains credibility to the highest degree, and it is not until chapters later that we discover he was dreaming. It's a good thing, but I don't like the trick, because I didn't believe it at all. I wondered where all of the new Jam'hadar capabilities had come from, like transmitting mental images and taking on the personae of other people. Instead, Taran'atar's mental state is severely damaged by his encounter with the Founder, and after isolating himself for days, he finally destroys his quarters, attacks Kira and Ro, leaving them near death, and leaves the station. This part was not a dream, and was more realistic, and I could believe it. His faith in his gods has been broken, he does not know his purpose, and who knows what he can do, now that he is on a rampage.

I am getting tired of these cliff-hanger endings -wouldn't it be nice to have a conclusion for once? Still, there is setup for several stories in these books. We don't know who was behind the attack on the Bajoran village at this point, but I suspect that the great time of unrest predicted by Sisko in the Bajor story is a war with the Ascendants, not with whomever is responsible (since it was barely mentioned in this book, I still think the mirror-Kira was responsible for that decimation. She hasn't been killed yet, has she?). As usual, only the next books will tell.

 
   

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