Another excellent book by this author,
who manages to capture all of the characters perfectly, and tell an
engrossing story at the same time.
I find that the cast of characters on Deep Space Nine has always been
huge. Not only do we get a large regular cast, but the number of
recurring guest characters is enormous. The show, and Star Trek in
particular, always had trouble giving everybody the screen time that
they deserved. The guests were rarely a problem, but the regulars would
go weeks at a time without significant exposure. Rarely would the
writers manage to give the stories that they told an ensemble cast. The
books that follow the series, however, have the advantage of length, and
they have all delivered something insightful about the characters. Best
of all, the books show this as a true ensemble.
S.D. Perry is one of the best authors at doing this, and keeping the
story interesting at the same time. Considering how much trouble the
Star Wars New Jedi Order series had keeping continuity straight and
plotlines going, I am totally amazed at how this series moves from one
event to the next, with things set up sometimes books in advance. There
must have been amazing communication between authors.
This book starts the moment Rising Son and
Lesser Evil leaves off. We
get a short recap of how Vaughn and the crew of the Defiant found Jake Sisko and Opaka, not to mention the sister world to Bajor on the other
side of the wormhole. Then, the Defiant is through to the Alpha
Quadrant, only to meet with the mess that was created there during
Lesser Evil. They run the Cardassian blockade
while cloaked, only to be stopped
by Kira herself, who reminds us, by telling Vaughn, about the lockdown
in place across the Bajor system. I liked Vaughn's reaction when asked
to inspect the back of Bashir's neck. Having such secure clearance means
that he knew about the parasite invasion of Starfleet years ago.
The briefing aboard DS9 takes us about 60 pages into the book, having
only been brought up to speed on what happened previously. I am glad to
have read The Lives of Dax series of short stories, as we meet two
characters from Dax's past who featured in those stories, not to mention
the first discovery of the parasites. The briefing was very well
written, in that nothing felt like exposition, even though we had read
about the direct events before. A lot of the characters, like Dax and
Vaughn, already knew bits and pieces, but nobody knew the whole story.
What did feel like exposition was the recounting of the letter from
The Lives of Dax, as told by Ezri to Bashir. Still, told through Ezri's
eyes, it was given a personal touch.
Everybody works throughout the book to resolve this latest crisis.
Some characters have less to do than others. Shar gets the least amount
of time, but gets closure to the personal crisis that started with his
mother's visit back in Demons of Air and Darkness. He starts to move on,
though his mother does not forgive him, and his bondmates have agreed to
try and find replacements for him and Thriss. He even gets propositioned
by Prynn at one point. Prynn gets as little to do as Shar, as she isn't
even in the loop about the parasites. Prynn is a strange young woman,
but I like her. She starts the book barely even able to take orders from
her father, who killed her Borgified mother in Lesser Evil. By the end,
she gets a sort of resolution, as well. Hopefully we will get to see
some healing in subsequent books.
Ro, being chief of security on the station, spends the book trying to
track down the parasite "mother", to little avail. She spends most of
her time trying to find her place in the new world, which will soon
become part of the Federation. Her antagonizing meetings with Admiral
Akaar were fun, especially when she decided to yell back at him. Her
relationship with Quark didn't progress much, but the crisis kept them
apart a lot. When the time comes, she gets a nudge from Picard, who
sends her a Starfleet uniform. After her good work in finding a solution
to the parasites, she decides that she wants to stay, after all. That
was not really a surprise.
What came as a total and unexpected but pleasant surprise, was the
resolution to Quark's dilemma. He didn't really want to leave DS9, and I
seriously doubted the authors wanted to get rid of him as a main
character. I could not figure out how they were going to adapt him to
the moneyless Federation society. The setup was there from the end of
the seventh TV season, of course. Rom, Nagus on Ferenginar (and with
Leeta pregnant) simply makes him Ambassador to Bajor, which makes his
bar the embassy, and Ferengi property! Quark spent most of the book
trying to figure out what he would do when forced to move out, and I
liked his various conversations with Ro and Nog, especially when he
wouldn't let his feet touch the ground when he found out about the
Vaughn suffered through the whole book for having to kill his wife in
Lesser Evil, and estranging his daughter again. On the station and when
he is assigned to the planet, he mopes around and has trouble
concentrating. When he is finally relieved of duty and sent to a
monastery, he gets to speak with Opaka. I loved Opaka in this book. She
is a character who allows others to unburden themselves to her. It is
actually peaceful to read the sequences that she is in. She and Vaughn
agree that the Prophets brought him to Bajor for a reason, way back in
Avatar when he had his Orb experience. So they go to the orbs again, and
inside, Vaughn meets with Benny Russell.
I was never enamored with the Benny Russell character in the TV
series, so his appearance here left me unmoved, except that it was Sisko
communicating with somebody from the outside world for the first time in
eight months. Vaughn spends a lot of time in the asylum with Benny, and
I decided early on in these sequences that Sisko was going to be the key
to destroying the matriarch parasite. I wondered if he was going to
return for good. Apparently Vaughn and Sisko have both been touched by
the Prophets for some as-yet-unrevealed purpose, and Sisko managed to
convince Vaughn that he could never give up trying to reach Prynn.
Of all the characters showcased here, this book really belonged to
Kira. She took charge of everything, from the initial briefing to
deciding who to keep informed of what events (including pushing the
buttons of Akaar), and finally opening the solution to the parasite
invasion. We still don't know why the parasites hate the Trill so much,
and their origin seems to have moved from far distant (in the The Next
Generation episode) to close by, as Bashir reveals that either the
parasites or symbionts were genetically engineered from the other, and
from the matriarch's point of view, she had apparently waited for a long
time, being the last of her kind, before Shakaar picked her up.
Kira gets the emotional focus and center of the book, as far as I'm
concerned. Her confession and subsequent breakdown to Opaka was
emotionally wrenching, and needed to happen. I loved the simple way that
it was written, and am glad that Bajor's spiritual journey continues,
even though the parasite threat must currently take precedence.
Another pleasant surprise came when they found a parasite mother on
the station, with more than one hundred pages left to go in the book! I
wonder what information the Gard symbiont got out of it before it
finally managed to take over (and was beamed out and killed in the
process). Might we see more of Gard in the Worlds of DS9 series?
Speaking of Gard, he reveals that he is still in the business of killing
threats (he killed a murdering Dax host in
The Lives of Dax). But his decision to
kill Shakaar so publicly seems so illogical. Why not do it privately,
where he wouldn't be accused?
Once the mother parasite is killed, the "worker" parasites all die
and leave their hosts, so DS9 is freed. But the matriarch on Bajor takes
action, taking all prominent Bajorans hostage, including the unborn
child of the Emissary, currently in the belly of Kasidy Yates Sisko.
Jake, Joseph and Judith Sisko go with her, into the temple where they
meet Opaka and Vaughn (or his body, at least, because his soul was still
in the orb when it was closed by a vedek parasite host).
Kira uses O'Brien's expertise to beam into the temple, where she
discovered from the joined Gard that the matriarch was hiding. With the
help of a special friend, she makes her way to the Orbs. Not knowing how
to kill the matriarch, she opens all nine of the orbs, thus opening the
gateway to the Prophets -and Sisko and Vaughn. Sisko banishes the
matriarch to the same place and time where the Dominion fleet was sent
back in the sixth season, and it is a Jem'hadar who actually kills her.
In the midst of the crisis, Kasidy gives birth to a baby girl,
delivered by Opaka! Sisko arrives just in time. Although Kasidy's labor
was short, by almost any standards for a first child, it seemed very
realistic, and it is obvious, even had I not read about it beforehand,
that the author had a baby of her own while this book was in production.
And Kira's special friend? Wex turns out to be Odo, who had been
searching for Opaka because she had spoken to a member of a race the
Founders were interested in, before she could even leave that war-like
planet. It seems odd that he left the Link after
such a short time to pursue this, but it was nice to have a sort of
reunion. I liked that even in his guise as Wex, that he gave Quark dirty
looks so often.
There is so much going on in the book that we even get to have
another quarrel between Miles and Keiko O'Brien! It seems that the
authors of the novels are not content to leave things the way they were
at the end of the series, even for less than a year. Sisko is back
(though he must return to the Prophets soon), Odo is back (though he has
to leave for the Link as soon as he can), and now O'Brien is going to
Cardassia, because his wife got a job as a chief botanist in the
restoration of the planet, which is really just a close neighbor to DS9.
That seems a little forced, given how much Keiko wanted stability for
her family. Still, the author nearly makes it work. Although Worf is
still an ambassador in this book (he doesn't get any lines, but shows up
for the signing ceremony to admit Bajor into the Federation), he
obviously resigns by the time of Nemesis.
With everybody returned to the station, and all of the new characters
introduced in Avatar and more recently, I wonder if there are now too
many characters for the novel series. I suppose, however, with the next
set of books taking place on six worlds, that we need more characters
for the time being.
I find it amazing how much has actually occurred in the DS9 books
since the TV series came to an end (and at how many DS9 books I have
read since then). I think this is the first book, though, to have a real
conclusion to it, perhaps making it an end to the "eighth season". The
book actually had a denouement, something so many books these days
forget to do. Not only was the plot resolved, but the characters also got
some sort of closure. It was very nice to see things wrapped up,
finally. Some of it seemed to wrap up too neatly, but that is to be
expected. Kira even gets her Attainder rescinded, thanks in no small
part to Opaka. Having met with Bajor's sister race in
Rising Son showed
Opaka that there are many ways to perceive the Prophets.
Lest somebody think that this is the end of the book series, the
authors have provided much more material to work with in the future.
Sisko has hinted at something special to occur in the future, with Bajor
at the center, of course. There are many relationships to pursue, such
as Prynn and Vaughn's reconciliation (if it occurs), Ro and Quark (if
they get closer), and everybody getting used to being part of the
Federation. Also, Shar's situation is very much unresolved, and
apparently Trill must wake up to the fact that the parasites are genetic
cousins to the symbionts. I get the feeling that Dax, being Dax, will
not rest until they accept it!
As much as I enjoyed the TV series, I am still quite enjoying the
continuing journeys in the novels, and look forward to each new book. I
hope the authors come out with new DS9 books that continue the journey
beyond the Worlds of Deep Space Nine.