- Terok Nor (#3)
- Takes place in the years prior to Deep Space Nine
- Published by Pocket Books in 2008
- A Space Opera
- 421 pages
For decades, the Bajoran people have suffered under the yoke of Cardassian rule. But as the balance of power across the quadrant changes, the Bajoran freedom fighters seize the opportunity to liberate their world . . .
When I think of Star Trek, I think of the optimistic exploration of alien worlds. That’s what the franchise is all about, so far as I’m concerned. This is why, though I think Deep Space Nine is the strongest TV show to come out of the franchise, as Star Trek, I rate it below Enterprise and Voyager. It’s brilliant television, but the grime and darkness of the Dominion War wears on me after multiple seasons. The Litverse – the continuity of novels set after Nemesis – doubled down on the war and politics side of the universe, with only a few post-Nemesis novels bringing that sense of wonder back. The Terok Nor trilogy is similarly grim, and that likely accounts for how long it took me to get through all three books back-to-back. Like Deep Space Nine, Terok Nor delves deep into the nastiest aspects of life to show people at their best. With Dawn of the Eagles, the trilogy catches right up the beginning of the show, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. But boy oh boy, is this tunnel dark.
Three Deep Space Nine characters have proven to be the tent poles of this trilogy. Dukat and Kira have both led a novel, which means that this one belongs to Odo. Aside from being a pivotal character in the Dominion War, Odo has one of the most interesting backgrounds. Here is a man (or man-shaped liquid) who has openly worked for the tyrannical Cardassian regime, yet is still respected by Bajorans and Federation officials alike. In Dawn of the Eagles, we see Odo leaving the laboratory of his youth behind and exploring Bajor for the first time. Perry and Dennison do a great job of capturing Rene Auberjonois’s gruff delivery, but tinged with an inexperience we never saw on screen. Of all the known characters to appear in this prequel series, Odo’s development is the strongest. We get to see more of what we saw on screen, that Odo craves order just as much as justice. But now we get to see why that is, and how the various Bajorans and Cardassians he has encountered along the way have informed that worldview.
The one main weakness running through this and the previous novel is that there are major scenes skipped over because we have seen them in flashback on TV. Odo’s role in particular atrocities, and the relationship between Kira Nerys and her mother are the obvious gaps. At the same time, having to retell two entire 45-minute episodes alongside the rest of the story would have bloated these books beyond recognition. A real case of the no-win scenario. The result of the authors’ choices in this regard leads to a series that jumps over key moments. Fortunately, a reader who make sit through this trilogy in all likelihood does so having already seen the episodes in question.
Overall, Dawn of the Eagles embodies the best and worst of the Terok Nor trilogy. It is a bleak and depressing read that hits a home run on all the weighty themes you’d expect from Deep Space Nine. At the same time, that heaviness isn’t necessarily what I want from Star Trek. It’s a weird situation, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d enjoy this more of the franchise labels had been stripped away. But even as a part of the Star Trek universe, it still has its rewards.