Saturday, October 17, 2015

Dawn of the Eagles

Star Trek Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles
© 2008 S.D. Perry and Britta Dennison
435 pages

The days are dark for Bajor. More than thirty years into the Occupation, the once-promising Resistance has very nearly been broken by a planet-wide surveillance system that restricts the movement of Bajorans on the surface.  Some of the rebellion's best leaders have fallen victim to it, and there seems to be little to do but hide in what few caves and similar sanctuaries that remain hidden from the Cardassian state's sensors.   And yet resistance festers, not only a  stripped Bajor but among the Cardassians as well.  Religious dissidents, ordinary citizens, and even members of the military are weary of the toll occupation has taken on Cardassia:  decades have been squandered in which Cardassia could have fostered a sustainable economy, wasted instead on the short-term remedy of taking Bajoran wealth. But now Bajor is largely ruined and the occupation nearly costing more than it provides -- in lives and finances.  Even the architect of despair, Gul Dukat, pays the price for his Pyrrhic victory,  increasingly isolated and made miserable by the fact that no one really appreciates him.  Dawn of the Eagles chronicles the downfall of the Cardassian occupation, completing this epic of Deep Space Nine's backstory. Mixing the familiar and the new, it is the story of a people's liberation; the Bajorans, from Cardassia; the Cardassians, from the depravity that Empire has led them to.

Like those before it, Dawn of the Eagle relies on viewpoint characters familiar from the show -- Dukat, Kira, Odo -- supported by original characters. Many of the threads continue from the preceding books , like the struggle of the resistance (mostly focusing on Kira's cell) against occupation. Others are new: Odo is a major character here, having left the science lab behind him to search for the meaning of his existence. His skill at mediating disputes, and potential as a weapon in Cardassia's pocket, attracts Dukat's eye, and eventually the lonely shapeshifter finds himself as Terok Nor's security chief,  ostensibly serving Cardassian interests but more often than not indulging a soft spot for the Bajoran oppressed.  Several of the more interesting characters are Cardassian women, all dissidents to one degree or another. One, Natima Lang,  appeared onscreen ( a dissident, since Cardassia's government is perennially objectionable), but the others were more or less loyal to the state until their work forced them to confront the fact that they were helping perpetuate evil. (One, for instance,  is a disgraced weapons scientist who realizes the new project she's been assigned to involves the stealth sterilization of the Bajoran populace.).  That tension -- working through the question of how far one takes 'my country right or wrong'  -- makes for a compelling story, and truly sympathetic Cardassians.  This is a fitting end to the trilogy, making the miniseries tie together by ending with some of the same original characters and on the same Bajoran holiday that Night of the Vipers began with.  For Deep Space Nine fans,  this is a true preface and  wholly worth reading.

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