Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Terok Nor

I raved a bit about the first Terok Nor novel a couple of months ago. I don't seem to have quite so much to say about Night of the Wolves and Dawn of the Eagles by S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed both books, but they make for a very different experience. James Swallow was showing us something we hadn't seen before -- how the Cardassian takeover actually played out. These two books move into more familiar territory, bringing more familiar faces into the mix and drawing on the many episodes of the show that established the invasion backstory. So Perry and Dennison have gone back to TNG's "Ensign Ro" and a lot of DS9 episodes. I'd been thinking in terms of episodes like "Necessary Evil" while waiting for these books; I'd forgotten how much had been established in other episodes.

And that's the (minor) problem with these books. So much of the story has already been told in bits and pieces that it sometimes feels like the books were an exercise in compiling and imposing a structure on all that we learned about pre-"Emissary" DS9 on TV. There's so much for Perry and Dennison to work with it sometimes feels like they don't have enough room to make the story their own. And balancing the story threads of all the major players must have been a challenge, too... Dukat, Kira, Odo, Opaka, Ro, and eventually Quark are all viewpoint characters, along with guest stars like Natima Lang.

So what we have is a sprawling saga rather than a taut thriller. Does it hold up? Yes. I enjoyed it, I liked the way the authors made connections between events, made sense of certain established events, put things into context. I liked the characterization of Dukat; it explained both how he could be hated by the Bajorans while still believing in himself as a benevolent despot. I liked revisiting a lot of the characters who made the pre-Dominion War DS9 interesting (I was one of the people who liked the Bajor stuff, who liked the show from the beginning instead of when it became the war show). Kira Meru, Tahna Los, Shakaar Edon, Li Nalas, Winn Adami, Bareil Antos, and more make appearances. We see the major cultural changes the occupation has on Bajor, including the move away from the D'jarra caste system, and also the changes in Cardassian society.

And we also get some things that connect to the relaunch novels, as the Oralians begin to rebuild on Cardassia following their near destruction during Day of the Vipers.

For anyone who was a DS9 fan from the beginning, the Terok Nor trilogy is a must read. For casual DS9 fans more interested in the Dominion War arc, it may not seem as necessary -- but if you're one of those people and also read the relaunch books, you'll find the same mix of intrigue, character development, and action here that you get in the relaunch. If you don't like DS9, well, why have you been reading this?


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