Star Trek Revelation and Dust
I have written often on this site about Pocket Books’ spectacular series of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine novels, that continued the story of the characters from that great TV show (the best of the Star Trek series, in my opinion), beyond the series finale. There were about a dozen novels published between 2001 and 2005, and they basically formed an eighth season of the show. Together they were a spectacular series of books, brilliantly continuing many of the story-lines and character arcs from the series while also weaving in many rich new characters and stories. But after a while, the series seemed to hit something of a snag, and several years passed without any new DS9 adventures. In 2008, David Mack wrote his phenomenal Destiny trilogy of novels (click here for my original review), which featured characters from all the 24th century-set Trek shows (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager). That was an amazing story, and it lead to several more phenomenal novels that explored the Trek universe following the destructive events of Destiny.
I loved all those books, but I was a little sad to see the lack of DS9-centered novels. Then came the “Typhon Pact” series from two years ago. That crossover was pleasingly Deep Space Nine centered, with two of the books, David Mack’s Zero-Sum Game (click here for my review) and David R. George III Rough Beasts of Empire (click here for my review) focused on DS9 characters and story-lines. Those books were followed by last summer’s duology Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn, also written by David R. George III. Those two novels were also published under the “Typhon Pact” heading, but they were unquestionably Deep Space Nine stories, as Mr. George masterfully pulled together countless DS9 story-lines that had been dangling — some of them for years — while also moving forward the political “Typhon Pact” story-line, in which the Federation found itself threatened with a new alliance of many of its deadliest enemies. I loved those books when I read them last summer (click here for my review), and this past summer, I re-read Rough Beasts of Empire followed by those two books, and I found myself even more impressed by the rich, compelling Deep Space Nine story-line that David R. George III had written.
Very recently, Mr. George’s latest Star Trek novel was published: Revelation and Dust. Like his previous books, this new novel did not appear with a Deep Space Nine heading on the cover. Instead, this book was labeled Star Trek: The Fall, kicking off a new five-book series, with each book written by a different author, that will be published over the coming months. But whatever the title, to my delight Revelation and Dust is 100% a Deep Space Nine story, and it boldly continues the epic story-line that Mr. George had created with his previous three novels. Revelation and Dust is a spectacular novel, one of my very favorite Star Trek novels from the past few years!
Following the destruction of DS9 and the collapse of the Bajoran wormhole, Starfleet has spent two years building a new space-station in the Bajoran system. To celebrate the station’s coming on-line, dignitaries from across the Federation, including newly re-elected Federation President Nanietta Bacco (first introduced years ago in Keith R.A. DeCandido’s phenomenal novel Articles of the Federation), have arrived at the new station. Also in attendance is the Praetor of the Romulan Empire, hinting at a possible detente between the Federation and their long-time adversary. But a shocking murder (of a very prominent character!) throws the situation into chaos, leaving Captain Ro and the new DS9 crew to struggle to unravel what has happened and preserve the fragile peace.
Each one of David Mack’s recent novels in his Cold Equations trilogy (click here for my review) included the death of a major character in the continuing Star Trek literary saga, and Revelation and Dust continues that trend. I was truly surprised and devastated by the identity of the character murdered mid-novel. As with the deaths in Cold Equations, I found myself pleased to be so engaged by the story-line, while at the same time very saddened to see such a wonderful character written out of the series. This was a doozy, and I certainly hope that subsequent novels are able to satisfactorily address this character’s loss.
As compelling as was the main story-line of Revelation and Dust, I was also quite taken by the B-plot. At the end of Raise the Dawn, Kira Nerys found herself trapped in the wormhole. This novel follows Kira’s mental journey in the hands of the Prophets. Because time is not linear, at first Kira finds herself witness to Ben Sisko’s first encounter with the wormhole aliens, as depicted in the premiere episode of DS9, “The Emissary.” In a very effective chapter, Kira witnesses Sisko’s emotionally shattering — but ultimately redeeming — acceptance of the fact that he has not allowed himself to move on from his wife Jennifer’s death. “You exist here,” the Prophet in the form of Jennifer tells him. I have always loved that sequence from “The Emissary” — I think it is one of the most moving scenes in all of Star Trek, and I loved seeing the scene re-created here. That was very well-done by Mr. George.
Then Kira seems to be transformed, and for the rest of the book we return time and again to the story of a woman named Keev, one of the Bajora, who is part of an underground moving escaped slaves to safety through a perilous underground system of passages. This is very reminiscent of Sisko’s experiences, given to him by the Prophets, in the persona of 1950’s science fiction writer Benny Russell, from the episode “Far Beyond the Stars.” (It’s also reminiscent of a similar lengthy experience of a Kira-who-is-not-Kira from David Mack’s DS9 novel Warpath.) The dreams and visions given to various characters by the wormhole aliens were a central part of the story-lines on the DS9 TV show, and I loved seeing this aspect of the show brought to life in Mr. George’s novel. In the climactic moment, late in the book, when Keev is given a Tear of the Prophet (an Orb), I could practically hear the music from the show playing in my head.
There is a gorgeous rendering on the cover of the new space-station constructed by Starfleet, and it’s a magnificent image. In addition to the cover, I was pleased by the amount of time spent by Mr. George in the novel, giving us descriptions of the new station. It’s intriguing to see the way in which many of the visual characteristics of the previous station have been maintained, albeit with a Starfleet touch. (The original DS9 was, of course, constructed by the Cardassians as an ore-processing facility.) I am intrigued by the glimpses we’ve been given of this new station, and I look forward to learning more about this new facility in future novels. (I was a little less taken by the introduction of new terms for many of the familiar DS9 locations — the plaza instead of the promenade, hospital instead of infirmary, etc. — though I will keep an open mind to see if this new nomenclature grows on me.)
If I have any major complaint about Revelation and Dust, it’s that this book is filled with set-ups without pay-offs. There are several story-lines that are begun in the book and then seemingly ignored (such as the Cardassian leader having to leave the station because of a political crisis back on Cardassia, or Odo’s being recruited by President Bacco to help investigate the apparent discovery of a new changeling-like life-form), but I assume that’s because those stories will be continued in the four remaining books in “The Fall” series. Also, of course, the book’s two main stories are left completely unresolved. We don’t have any idea who was behind the murder, or why, nor do we learn the full purpose behind Kira’s novel-long experience in the identity of Keev. (The book is also very vague as to whether the story of Keev is a complete fabrication of the Prophets, or whether somehow Kira was really experiencing the life of someone from deep in Bajor’s past.) Some aspects of Kira’s vision become clear by the end of the book (we understand the damaged cave tunnels to be a metaphor for the damaged wormhole), but many questions remain — such as the true nature of Kira’s mission in Shavalla. (I also really, really hope that the suggestion, at the end of the book, of a possible new love-interest for Kira — competition for Odo — doesn’t turn out that way. Kira and Odo have been separated for pretty much the entirety of these post-finale DS9 books, and I am eager for these two to be reunited. I must confess to not being excited by the possibility of another bump in that road.)
Revelation and Dust is a very robust book, crammed full of characters and story-lines. I appreciated Mr. George’s efforts to check in, over the course of the novel, with pretty much all of the major and minor characters in the DS9 universe. I loved getting a chance to catch up with so many of our favorite characters. The down-side is that occasionally I felt like I wanted more than just an occasional glimpse of these characters and their stories. For instance, we have a scene early on in which we learn of how close one character is to the person revealed as the murderer later in the story (I am trying to be vague here!), so then I was very surprised that we didn’t have a scene of that character reacting to the revelation of their friend as the assassin. We just heard about their reaction second-hand. That seemed like a weird omission. As another example, after spending so much time in the previous three books focusing on Ben Sisko’s relationship with his wife Kassidy and daughter Rebecca, we learn in the novel that Kassidy and Rebecca are on the station and witness the murder, but we never have a scene where we see their reaction, afterwards, to being present at such a terrible event. Again, a curious omission.
I also find myself still puzzled by the story-line of Bashir’s romantic relationship with Sarina Douglas. I have mentioned in previous Star Trek novel reviews that I haven’t loved the decision to split him from Ezri Dax, and on top of that, in so many of the recent novels we’ve been given cause to wonder about Sarina. (In Zero-Sum Game she is revealed as an agent of Section 31, and in Plagues of Night & Raise the Dawn, there is a hint of her complicity in the sabotage of the old station.) Here, we get a weird scene in which Mr. George emphasizes that Dax doesn’t like Sarina. Just the jealousy of a former lover, or something more? I hope a future novel delves deeper into the Bashir-Sarina relationship and gives us more of her story.
And when will Shar and Tenmei be reunited??? Aaargh!! I’ve been waiting for a decade!!
I tore through Revelation and Dust in two days. It is, over-all, a magnificent novel and a spectacular continuation of the Deep Space Nine saga. I am delighted by the prominence given to DS9 characters and stories in this Star Trek series-wide novel crossover. If the remaining books in “The Fall” are able to build on the set-up accomplished by Mr. George in this book, then this is going to be a spectacular series. Can’t wait for the next installment.
Previous Star Trek novel reviews:
Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Sky’s The Limit, Resistance and Q & A, Before Dishonor and Greater than the Sum, Destiny trilogy, A Singular Destiny, Losing the Peace,Immortal Coil, Cold Equations Book 1: The Persistence of Memory, Cold Equations Book 2: Silent Weapons, Cold Equations Book 3: The Body Electric
Star Trek: Voyager – Full Circle
Star Trek: New Frontier – Series overview, Stone & Anvil, After the Fall, and Missing in Action, Treason and Blind Man’s Bluff
Star Trek: Mirror Universe (Books 1 & 2) – Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Shards & Shadows – Star Trek: Mirror Universe: The Sorrows of Empire — Star Trek: Mirror Universe: Rise Like Lions – Star Trek: Myriad Universes (Books 1 & 2) – Star Trek: Myriad Universes: Shattered Light