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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-03-01 07:36
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack
Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow - Una McCormack

This novel is another excellent entry about Cardassia by McCormack and closely follows "A Stitch in Time" and "The Never-Ending Sacrifice".

 

Tthere's a new political movement coming to power, Cardassia First, populist, isolationist, xenophobic, just on the eve of the withdrawal of the Federation from Cardassian soil. Civil Unrest is threatening, just as a Bajoran Starfleet officer is killed. Then Nan Bacco is assassinated, and the withdrawal put into question by the pro-tem UFP president. Garak and Picard work tirelessly to prevent open civil war on Cardassia and maintain the shaky alliance between the UFP and Cardassia.

 

Cardassia is a perfect example for a state that has never really known democracy, just an oligarchy or dictatorship, and now, still fighting the effects of the Dominion War, poverty, pollution etc, it's on the brink to fall back into old systems. I appreciate the matter-of-fact way of story-telling instead of swinging the moral hammer, because, yes, we see this every day, and how many states that only recently embraced democracy have fallen back into the abyss?

 

Garak's one of the most complex figures in all of Star Trek. He's a murderer, a spy, he dragged (together with Sisko) the Romulans into the Dominion War... but somehow he retained or regained a (shrewd as it might be) moral compass. He's not acting out of a need to prove himself or to gain advantage for himself, but for the good of Cardassia. And right now, what he perceives as the good of Cardassia aligns itself with reality. Let's see what happens when he's actually in power.

 

I enjoyed the letters which start almost every chapter, sent and unsent, by Garak to Bashir (and one to Parmak, his closest friend on Cardassia) because they bring insight into his thoughts and anguish. I loved the painting by Ziyal which is sort of his shrine to her and how he uses his memory of her to remain within moral borders. And I love Bashir's one reply warning Garak not to become his father.

 

McCormack leaves the reader to figure out all the emotional intricacies, just as she did in The Never-Ending Sacrifice. Her prose isn't really made for action-sequences, but it's perfect for relaying emotions, motivations... and slowly captivating her readers until they're hooked and can't put the novel down until it's finished.

 

This, together with A Stitch in Time and The Never-Ending Sacrifice is certainly a must-read novel regarding Cardassia.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2016-06-07 18:49
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Never-Ending Sacrifice by Una McCormack
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Never Ending Sacrifice - Una McCormack

This novel covers the story of Rugal, the Cardassian boy who was raised by Bajorans and remanded to the custody of his birth father by Sisko in DS9's season 2 episode "Cardassians", following the next roughly 10 years of his life, and turns it into a powerful tale of loss, being lost, being the pawn of powers above, and ultimately taking charge of your own fate and coming home. And curiously, this doesn't just pertain to Rugal himself but to Cardassia as a whole whose fates are weaved expertly together.

 

But what remains, outside of political intrigue, the developments on Cardassia after the fall of the Obsidian Order, after Tora Ziyal's rescue that eventually drives Dukat from office and into exile, only to return heroically with a fleet of Jem'Hadar and the prospect of war, is the endless love and patience of a father, Kotan Pa'Dar, towards his child, willing to sacrifice everything just to see said child happy. And the confusion of a child, taken from his home and family, yearning to get them back, but not yet realizing that that's impossible and that he can only create a new bonds and a new home.

 

The only minor point of criticism is perhaps the prose that doesn't flow easily, especially in the beginning - but perhaps, in retrospect, that's a reflection of how Rugal feels in his first months on Cardassia: disjointed and out of place.

 

Overall, this is a deeply emotional journey that sucks you in slowly and keeps you on the edge of your seat right till the moment when Rugal finds his home, in more than one sense of the word, and at least some sort of happy ending. All this is interspersed with Cardassian politics and the Cardassian point of view of the events depicted in DS9. This might well be, together with "A Stitch in Time", the ultimate novel about Cardassia and the Cardassian way of life. But maybe in the end, the cycle of the "never-ending sacrifice" is broken, even if it took endless sacrifice, each more painful and personal than the one before, to arrive at that point. Highly recommended.

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