Series: Typhon Pact (#6)
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Space Opera
Publication Date: 2012
Deep Space Nine is no more. Destroyed by agents of the Typhon Pact, the venerable station’s final legacy may be nothing less than outright war. But even as fleets gather along the border, there are still those who would pursue the path of peace . . .
Everything I said in my review of Plagues of Night remains true of this follow-up. The writing and pacing are a mess, but the overarching story remains good. If anything, the story is even better in this one. It just takes far too long to get going.
Plagues of Night ended on the ultimate cliffhanger: The destruction of Deep Space Nine. This has to be one of the most significant moments of the post-Nemesis canon. It’s a game changer, both in and out of universe. In universe, it throws the Bajoran system into crisis and brings the Alpha Quadrant to the brink of open warfare. out of universe, the station is one of the most enduring locations in the franchise. it’s a structure we saw explored over the course of seven seasons. Throughout occupations, wars, and weekly disasters, it remained a constant presence. And now it’s gone. Short of killing off a main character, there are few better ways to show that no one and nothing is safe.
And yet, much of that cliffhanger falls short. Within a lengthy prologue to Raise the Dawn, we discover that all the main characters are still safe, and that the tragedy and trauma delivered at the end of the previous book is quickly stripped away. Sisko’s separation from his family should be meaningful, but ultimately it’s glossed over, and if it weren’t for the fact that George keeps reminding us how sad Sisko feels about his choices, it wouldn’t feel any different to any other mission he’s been on. even the loss of Deep Space Nine loses impact when it is almost immediately agreed that there will be a replacement station built.
Going back to the TV series that started this journey, ‘Far Beyond the Stars’ is rightly regarded as one of Star Trek‘s greatest episodes. Sisko’s Orb experience showing him an alternative past in which he is a golden age SF writer fighting racism, makes for powerful viewing. Deep Space Nine revisited that latter on, but that visit lacks the same impact. So too is the Eaton and Cassie section of this book a pale reflection of that classic episode. As with much of Trek mysticism, it doesn’t make a lick of sense, and does little more than pull me out of the narrative. Repeatedly. Benny Russell is an important part of Trek‘s story, but each time we revisit him, it detracts from what made him so memorable the first time around.
Where this book shines is with the Romulans. George is at his best when writing the Star Empire, and that’s never been more true than here. Having the notoriously aggressive Romulans be the side seeking peace makes for a refreshing change, and the internal politics of the Star Empire are again done very well. Tomalak is so well written I can almost hear Andreas Katsulas growling each line. The broader story of Federation/Typhon Pact cold war brinkmanship is easily the best part of this book, and the title of the next book tells you that the best is yet to come in this regard. It’s only with the Romulans here that we get any sense of change.
Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn mark something of a missed opportunity for the Typhon Pact series. there are so many moments that should have been turning points, but at the end, it just feels like the status quo has been restored.