This was a filler book if I ever saw
one, a real bridge with very little to do except get the characters from
one place at the beginning of the book to the next place at the end of
the book, hopefully making the journey interesting at the same time.
This book did the first, but was quite lacking in the second.
One thing that struck me as annoying was the writing style. The
author would show events from several points of view. Each point of view
would contain the same dialog, though, which made it repetitious when it
didn't have to be. Instead of repeating comments heard on a comm-badge
over and over, the author could summarize what was said in commentator
form. There were also a lot of repeated clichés, or usages of the same
terms to tell us what Taran'atar resembled at this point in his flight,
which got really annoying, too.
The story only takes about a day, and picks up during the last
chapter of Olympus Descending, from the Ferenginar/Dominion book. There
are only a handful of actual scenes. Bashir transports Ro and Kira to
sick-bay, where Kira's heart is replaced and a revolutionary new
procedure is used to repair Ro's spine. Quark spends all his time by
Ro's bed, comforting her, while Kira spends the day with the Prophets.
My review of Horn and Ivory relates how the ancient Bajora who fought
with swords and spears had no impact on me whatsoever. Their return here
at least has some purpose, but I still didn't enjoy the swords and
sorcery style of the plot.
The point of having Kira spend so much time among the Prophets was to
impress upon her the threat the Ascendants pose to everybody. Odo went
searching for an Ascendant, who freed Opaka and her followers from the
deathless planet in Rising Son. Jake Sisko found the Eav'oq who had
hidden their planet in subspace forever, and who were returned to normal
space in that same book. Apparently the Prophets were guides to the
Ascendants and the Eav'oq before the Bajorans, and now all three of the
"children" races are coming back. The Ascendants, however, are
single-minded in their beliefs, and will destroy all in their paths.
Kira in ancient times agrees to help the Eav'oq defend their fortress,
knowing it will be a hopeless battle. I wonder what the authors of this
series have in store for that war.
The main plot of the book is Taran'atar, and discovering why he left
Kira near death, and why he suddenly hates her so much. As I suspected
back in Fragments and Omens, the Bajor story of the Worlds of DS9, the
person who destroyed the village was actually Kira of the Alternate
Universe. She has been subliminally programming Taran'atar to come to
her and be her slave. Nog manages to piece this together from the ruined
communications device in the Jem'hadar's quarters.
Taran'atar steals a runabout, which happens to be piloted by Prynn
Tenmei. Vaughn goes after them in the Defiant. Taran'atar is always one
step ahead of Vaughn, though, and I had trouble believing the Starfleet
officers were so predictable. Prynn sabotages the runabout, but only
after Vaughn thinks she is dead because he detonated a comet with her
comm-badge attached to it, thinking he was beaming her up. Prynn's
sabotage seems to be for nothing, however, as she only gets ties up
tighter with every incident. I suppose it makes it more interesting than
having her compliant the whole time, but the only reason for her to be
aboard the runabout was to cause Vaughn grief and to place her in the
Harkoum cavern to save Vaughn at the end.
For Taran'atar is going to Harkoum, an abandoned Cardassian prison
planet. We are given a snippet of how wretched the planet is by the
bounty hunters sent to kill the "Cardassian woman", who turns out to be
the woman surgically altered to look like Kira back in the TV series.
She is hunting the Intendent Kira, who had discovered a way to hack into
not just this alternate universe, but as many more as she wants. At the
end of the book, as Taran'atar is pledging his loyalty to Intendant Kira,
another Kira materializes and kills the Intendent! That was quite a
surprise, and I wonder what universe she comes from, now!
Vaughn hunts Taran'atar down to the lowest levels of the prison,
where he plans to use a make-shift device to remove the conditioning on
the Jem'hadar. He fails, and Prynn also fails to save him. Strangely
enough, it is the Intendent who calls Taran'atar to her universe which
saves the two of them, though she activates the facility's
self-destruct. I really thought they were going to let Vaughn die at the
end, but Prynn jumps overboard to catch him, and they are in turn caught
by the Klingon cruiser Taran'atar commandeered when Prynn sabotaged the
I didn't like the way the characters were described as having so many
broken bones, yet are able to continue on a few pages later as if
nothing happened. The escape scenes are a prime case, as both Vaughn and
Prynn were badly beaten by Taran'atar, yet they still managed to climb
and fight and hold onto a ship as it navigated small tunnels and away
from a giant explosion. Which leads to another question: was this the
most violent DS9 book yet? So many people were killed for no real reason
by Taran'atar and the bounty hunters. I wonder how much of it was really
In the end, we get yet another cliff-hanger, with presumably a
mirror-universe crisis in the waiting. How many Kira's are we going to
see in the next Trilogy? I can only hope it is written better than this