BOOK REVIEW: A Ceremony of Losses, by David Mack

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Era: Post-Nemesis

Series: The Fall (#3)

Publisher: Pocket Books

Genre: Space Opera

Pages: 334

Publication Date: 2013

Verdict: 5/5

Crisis after crisis have taken their toll on the Federation, and for one man it is finally too much. Determined to solve the Andorian fertility disaster, Julian Bashir puts everything on the line. his friendships, his career, and maybe even his life . . .

A Ceremony of Losses is the third book of The Fall, but its roots go far deeper than that. Though the ongoing fallout from the assassination of President Bacco informs all that happens, this is in many ways a sequel to Dayton Wards Paths of Disharmony. Like that book (and to an even greater extent) to fully appreciate it you should read the Vanguard series first, for a full account of the Shedai Meta-Genome’s origins. But the main arc of the story is of course reliant on seven years of Alexander Siddig’s stellar portrayal of Julian Bashir on Deep Space Nine. Without that baseline, without every moral dilemma the man faced on screen, this book wouldn’t be anywhere near as rich as it is.

Though we start of back on Deep Space 9 (the new one), this doesn’t really deliver much followup to Revelations and Dust. Those plotlines, and the culprits of Bacco’s assassination, have moved elsewhere. What we get instead is a classic Star Trek tale of shifty politicians, technobabble solutions, and principled heroes making a stand for what is right. At the heart of this book is a question: Would you follow lawful orders, if breaking them could save lives? It’s a question that Trek has tackled before, because Trek has tackled most problems before, but rarely have the stakes been as high as this. or the storytelling so fiercely tense.

Bashir’s answer is a simple one. The Hippocratic oath compels him to act. To save Andor, even if the Federation’s acting president is content to let a species die for political gain. After a fair few books that have left me less than thrilled, here is one that carries on the phenomenal character work that Deep Space Nine started. Bashir is a known quantity for readers, and every twist and turn of his story lands perfectly, from his dabbling with Section 31 to his desperate race against Andor’s ticking biological clock. One small surprise is in the form of the help he seeks in his medicinal search. There are a few characters I expect to see cropping up in the Litverse. Doctor Pulaski was not one of them, but her brief appearance is perfectly in keeping with her equally brief tenure on The Next Generation, and I hope she’ll be sticking around this time.

But Bashir is not the only one to face a crisis of conscience. Captain Ezria Dax of the Aventine must also choose. tasked with blockading Andor, will she capture Bashir as ordered, or will her past friendship convince her of the righteousness of his cause? I’ve said it before and I will say it again here: Ezri Dax has been a star performer in the Litverse at every encounter, and this is one of her finest hours. Even though I’ve missed out on the early days of the DS9 relaunch novels, her relationship with Bashir is spot-on, and for the first time I truly want to revisit that earlier period. With the Litverse coming to an end soon, I fully intend to savour every moment of Dax’s triumphant re-imagining as a captain. It’s brilliantly written, and utterly compelling from start to finish.

And that statement is true of this book as a whole. A Cermeony of Losses may only be a smaller part of a larger series, but it is full of consequence. An undoubted high point of the Star Trek saga, and easily one of the best Litverse books I have read.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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