"The Dominion War"

by Michelle Erica Green

I'm more than a year late reviewing these books, but John Vornholt and Diane Carey's four-part adaptation of the events of the Dominion War are too good to let slip. The books were released over a period of two months, with one TNG novel and one DS9 novel at a time, but it might make sense to read them out of order (especially if you don't remember the DS9 episodes from the start of the sixth season), so you can refresh yourself on Sisko's role at the center of the war before learning what Picard and his crew were up to at the same time.

Carey is an excellent storyteller and particularly excels at adapting screenplays; her novelizations of Voyager's "Flashback" and "Equinox" were considerably better than the episodes themselves, while her print version of "What You Leave Behind" proved her grasp of the DS9 characters. Books 2 and 4 of The Dominion War summarize the episodes "Call To Arms," "A Time To Stand," "Sons and Daughters," "Rocks and Shoals," "Behind the Lines," "Favor the Bold," and "The Sacrifice of Angels," which is a lot of material to fit in a little over 500 pages. Thus some characters aren't as well-represented as I might have liked; Jadzia Dax, for instance, seems a nebulous presence. On the other hand, all the Klingons are terrific, especially Martok in his role as go-between for Sisko and Starfleet as well as Worf and Alexander.

We all have favorite characters; mine are Kira and Odo, so I was gratified that both received considerable quality time, not only because they're crucial to the plot but because their emerging relationship gives emotional weight to the decisions they are forced to make. While Kira fears she has become a collaborator, Odo actually joins Weyoun's ruling triumvirate along with Gul Dukat, despising his role all the while. It's great character drama as well as an interesting twist on wartime diplomacy, and a lot of humor and pathos work their way in as well. Unsurprisingly, the Ron Moore script "Rocks and Shoals" - in which a Vorta tries to sacrifice his noble Jem'Hadar, and Dukat tries to woo Kira - makes the most engrossing reading in text form as well.

Vornholt has a knack for getting on my good side by taking characters I like - particularly female characters - and giving them more to do than the shows ever did. In this case, he sends Ro Laren on a probable suicide mission commanding a Bajoran transport, so that a disguised Picard, LaForge, and others can learn whether the Dominion is really building an artificial wormhole with the help of a turncoat Trill scientist. While Riker tries to speed up Enterprise repairs by working with a troubled Starfleet commander whose body was nearly destroyed in combat, Ro and Picard lead their team into the Badlands, where they discover an abandoned station called the OK Corral, a mysterious field of ghostly ships nicknamed Death Valley, and other colorful hazards that nearly derail their mission to find and disable the greatest scientific breakthrough in the galaxy.

"If only the Dominion could have created this artificial wormhole in a time of peace, in a spirit of peace . . . but so many inventions came during war, when desperation, fear, and hatred fueled the imagination," ponders Picard at one point. Indeed, this tragedy is at the heart of much fan criticism of the Dominion War as a concept: it's a direct challenge to Roddenberry's belief in a spirit of progress fueled by mutual respect and cooperation. Yet Vornholt somehow manages to balance the scientific wonder with the horror or its potential use, and redeems the traitorous creator, thus restoring the value of his creative spirit. It's a heartening and ultimately joyous tale of people coming together even in the worst sort of adversity. One might say the same of the Dominion War itself.

Click here to buy Behind Enemy Lines, A Call To Arms..., Tunnel Through the Stars or ...The Sacrifice of Angels from amazon.com.

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