I had very little interest in either
storyline, though they were fairly well-written, for the most part
-especially for the author's first novel.
My first impression, especially true through the first half of the
book, was that the dialog was stilted. I must have grown used to it,
though, because by the time I finished the book, it didn't seem too bad.
Perhaps this was just because I came off the professional-sounding and
very descriptive Twilight. In that book, I complained about
detail being given. This book doesn't have that problem- at all.
Although Kira was well-defined, I found the characters on the Defiant
were difficult to differentiate from one another by their thoughts and
actions alone. It was as if they were generic characters with the names
of the DS9 staff.
The characters went where the story took them, and I'm not entirely
sure that is a good thing. I could see the conflict that Dax would have
within herself several books ago, but I found the author was not able to
convince me this was an inevitable climax. I also don't know Shar enough
to know if he is in character. He was rather reclusive and in the
background in previous books. Here, he disregards orders from both
Vaughn and Dax, several times, and even after being reprimanded and told
explicitly not to meet, for example, with Keren again. Bashir also
seemed rather inconsistent, hovering over Dax all the time. Thankfully,
he wasn't featured in much of the story.
The Defiant story breaks up into two storylines. The ship is caught
in a "web" weapon of some sort right from the first section. The Yrythny species comes to the rescue, but they seem to hold back a lot of
information, and our characters don't ask very many questions to clarify
the situation. A mob nearly kills them in the streets, but is broken up
by Keren, the leader of the Wanderer tribes. These are Yrythny who are
considered genetically deficient, because they are not able to return to
their own homes after spawning. The Houseborn make sure the Wanderers
are repressed as much as possible.
I really wonder what kind of people these aliens are. They seem to
give away critical strategic information about their genetics and
political turmoil in the first meal they share with the crew of the
Defiant. At a suggestion from Dax, of course, things get blown all out
of proportion. Is she the first person ever to suggest third party
intervention? Once the Wanderer servant made the suggestion public,
everybody was eager for her to start. Even the Houseborn were excited to
negotiate with Ezri, but it is not clear why. Did they think she will
settle in their favor? Were they so naive to think that a ruling against
the Wanderers from an outside party would prevent future uprisings? In a
book about Starfleet personnel, and injustice, it is clear from the
outset that she must vote for equality, so the only thing that could be
interesting (aside from a surprise ending), is the process.
Unfortunately, watching Ezri make mistake after mistake, even when
she is doing the right thing, was more frustrating than interesting. It
was also quite predictable, and therefore dull. Ezri really has no idea
how to command, something she only admits at the very end of the book.
She orders Shar around without even listening to him. She obviously
thought she was Curzon, the bully. I don't know if this is a real
personality trait of hers, or if it was just the author's style. Even
Shar's excursions didn't do anything for me, though at least it was tied
to the larger plot. The reason he went against orders so many times was
because the Yrythny seemed to be a genetically created species,
something which might help the Andorians avoid extinction.
I didn't like the way Ezri was constantly swearing, injecting "hell"
into every second sentence for a while. It was unnecessary, and out of
character. I would have liked a personal touch to her story, since it
could have been made so easily. She speaks about how the Yrythny planet
could not survive with so many mating pairs, so keeping one group from
mating (the Wanderers), even on immoral grounds, is environmentally logical.
The Trill have a very similar class system, in that only selected Trill
can be joined with a symbiont. Of course, regular DS9 viewers know that a
lot more hosts are capable of supporting the symbiont than is publicly
acknowledged, and Ezri is a prime example. The point could have been
made, but for some reason, it wasn't.
The other storyline is equally boring, but not as frustrating. Vaughn
knows that he is being cheated, and is himself frustrated at being
helpless. The Yrythny offer to fix the Defiant for free! Of course, then
they blackmail him into allowing Ezri to mediate, because the ship can
no longer go anywhere. In devising a defence to the nanobot web of the
enemy Cheka, Nog devises the concept of femtobots, even smaller! How it
would work is a mystery to me, but in Trek, absolutes always rule: there
is no way the femtobots could destroy each and every one of the nanobots.
Some are bound to get through, but of course, on the critical test, they
Why is Nog such an engineering genius now? I don't think O'Brien
could do half the stuff he can, with much more experience, too.
(Speaking of O'Brien, I would like to see him again sometime.) I guess
they do teach miracles to the engineers at the Academy.
The only way to get materials strong enough for the femtobots,
however, is at the Consortium, and the Yrythny offer to help. The
Yrythny got quite a price for helping the Defiant, not only Ezri
mediating to avert civil war, but also a defence against the siege
They bid for a chunk of material, but something goes wrong -even Nog
(businessman by species) can't figure it out. Of course, there is a
traitor in the midst of the Yrythny, so once they trick the Cheka into
giving up their material (involving a topless Prynn -why can't they have
an episode like that- and a computer virus), they set a trap for the
Nog puts on an act like he's upset at Vaughn, and tries to give the
cloaking device schematics to the Cheka. He is stopped by Vaughn, but
they leave the schematics behind. They didn't count on Nog being
kidnapped, though, so they chase the Yrythny ship back towards their
homeworld. The Yrythny seemed very pleasant when saying goodbye, which
is very strange given the down and dirty way they behaved up to that
The two plots collide when Ezri and Shar (and incidentally Keren) are
kidnapped by a Houseborn Yrythny councillor, who loves Keren (a
Wanderer), and plans on giving live Yrythny eggs to the Cheka for
genetic investigation (which is why they are under siege). In return,
the Cheka "promised" to give weapons to support the Wanderers in a civil
war. Turning Jeshoh into a bad guy at the last minute is as bad as
having Shar come up with a genetic solution at the last minute. How did
any of them understand the raw data he showed them? The computer
certainly didn't write a nice neat report for Shar! Even I have trouble
interpreting my own raw data until I've properly organized it. But, of
course, this is Star Trek... and Shar figures out that the Wanderers
were needed to ensure genetic diversity, so they are the future, after
all! I couldn't see that one coming (sarcasm).
Shar has proven himself capable of violence in the past; I can't
figure out why he didn't simply disarm Jeshoh. The Yrythny was
distracted enough times that there was a good chance that he would have
succeeded, especially since Jeshoh was not experienced with weapons.
Ezri's "councillor tactic" was so transparent, with poor dialog, that I
was quite embarrassed for her.
On the other side, Nog was taken on a shuttle towards the Cheka ship
so that he could explain the cloaking device schematics to them, and
Vaughn uncloaks the Defiant in its path, disabling it. He then frees Nog
and creates a sensor shadow so that the Cheka ship sees two Yrythny ships
of the same size. I cannot believe for even a second that the Cheka were
fooled by this. If anybody was looking at their sensors, they would have
seen the shuttle disappear, and a larger ship appear in the exact same
place. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened, especially
if they look outside!
So the Yrythny presumably live happily ever after, and the Defiant
departs. One of my main problems with this Gamma Quadrant series, other
than the dull stories of non-exploration, is that I have no sense of
where they are. If it only took a short while to get to the Vahni
homeworld (and why wasn't that mentioned more than once or twice?), and
then to the Yrythny homeworld, then they can't be too far from the
wormhole. Yet they talk about the "balance of power" in that sector. The entire mission is only three months long. How close is
this region of space from the Dominion, which seemed to exist so close
to the wormhole? If they have gone far from Dominion space, will they
pass through it on the last leg of their arc?
There is another plotline going through this book, and that takes
place on the station, as with the last book. Unfortunately, where in
Twilight things were rushed to a head at the very end after a tortuous
path, here nothing really happens in terms of Bajor. However, I really
appreciated the Andorian plots.
Kira has to deal with memories of Dukat as the Cardassian who bears
his resemblance, Gul Macet, returns to the station, along with Natima
Lang, whom we have seen before on the series. They are looking to
reconcile Cardassia and Bajor. Hasn't this been done before? Even so,
the author refreshes it and explains it well. The only part I didn't
like was the prominent treatment of Ziyal's artwork. I don't understand
how it could draw such huge line-ups. It seems wholly made-up by the
author. I never cared for the character of Ziyal, however, and that
might explain my antipathy. When the art was vandalized, I was just
relieved that it would be out of the spotlight.
The "peace talks" are stalled before they get started, though, as
Shakaar prefers to wait until Bajor has been admitted into the
Federation, since there are already treaties between those entities, and
he sees no point in duplicating that effort. He also seems out of
character (something Kira noticed) by not wanting to allow Bajor to
continue to heal by creating a formal agreement.
Kira gets by far the best treatment of all the characters in this
book. Her thoughts, about religion, command, Shakaar, the second
minister, and so on are pretty complete, and rather revealing.
An even better plot that takes place on the station, however, is the
way the Andorians are taking to Shar's absence. Thriss has become a
full-fledged character here. We also learn about Andorian biology, and
why Thriss and Shar were so close, because they shared a somewhat sexual
act, something that could weaken their bond whenever they decide to
mate. From Thriss' assault of Ro and the others in Quark's (Ro was
stupid and unprofessional to approach the Ambassador so openly), to her
undisclosed sessions with Councillor Mathias (a brand new recurring
character, I hope, whom I loved), to her eventual and totally unexpected suicide
(no sarcasm this time),
she was allowed to grow quite a bit. The other Andorians were only seen
relative to her, but they were able to shed a lot of light on the
Andorian species. I liked it, and hope they adopt something like this on
Enterprise when we next see that species.
I suppose Shar will be punished by his family for leaving and
allowing an unstable Thriss to die, but he will likely come back with
salvation in the genetics area. It seems like some of the plotlines
started way back in Avatar are coming to a close, while others are
expanding. I hope they continue adding new plotlines to the mix, as
The relationship between Ro and Quark seems to have cooled a bit
since the last book, and their holosuite date didn't add anything new.
Windsurfing? Did Ro learn that on Earth, or did she do it on Bajor
first? The author doesn't seem interested enough to let us know.
Taran'atar also gets a brief appearance in this book. I find it very
strange that he's allowed to carry a phaser around the station. He could
probably kill many people with his bare hands before anybody got in a
shot, anyway. Why does he need the weapon?
Kasidy also gets a small spot, at the very end of the book, where
things seem to get very interesting before it abruptly ends. Vedek Yevir,
who forbade Kira from openly practising her religion, seems to be in
spiritual crisis. I wonder if the next book will deal with the religious
split. Only time will tell, but not for a while.
I'm taking a break from these books for a time. I was anxiously
looking forward to continuing the DS9 storyline, since the others were
so good. There were a lot of good moments, but too much of the story was
bogged down in uninteresting stuff.