Friday, February 21, 2014

Cathedral

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Mission Gamma, Book Three of Four
Cathedral by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels
Published October 2002
Read January 25th 2014


Previous book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Two: This Gray Spirit
Next book (Deep Space Nine): Mission Gamma, Book Four: Lesser Evil


Purchase: Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Amazon.co.uk

Spoilers ahead for Cathedral, Mission Gamma, and the rest of the Deep Space Nine relaunch!

From the back cover:
SIREN SONGS
As a small child, Jules Bashir underwent illegal genetic enhancements that forever altered the natural course of his life. As an adult, ever since the day he discovered what his parents had done, Dr. Julian Bashir has wondered what he might have become if "Jules" had been allowed to live, certain he would never know the answer. But when the lure of a strange alien artifact in the Gamma Quadrant inexplicably begins to reverse Bashir's enhancements, the person he had thought long dead is given a second chance at life.
Ninety thousand light-years away, as the crew of Deep Space 9 tries to comprehend a shocking tragedy, Ro Laren makes a fateful decision about her life aboard the station. And although political maneuverings and failing diplomacy have already extinguished all hope of a real, lasting peace between Bajor and Cardassia, one man's search for his true calling may lay a new foundation for the future.

My thoughts:

As with the two previous Mission Gamma novels, Cathedral features two main storylines, one taking place on the Defiant as she continues her mission of exploration in the Gamma Quadrant, and the other taking place on Deep Space Nine, where preparations are underway to bring Bajor into the United Federation of Planets.

In the Gamma Quadrant side of things, a survey crew aboard the shuttlecraft Sagan discovers a massive artifact in space, seemingly partially in our universe and partially in another. The crew, which consists of Nog, Bashir, and Dax, each exhibit peculiar symptoms upon their return to the Defiant. Ezri begins to reject her symbiont, Bashir begins losing the mental edge that his genetic enhancements provide, and Nog begins re-growing the leg he lost in "The Siege of AR-558."

While these stories provide a great opportunity to explore these characters in a way we've never seen before and consider "what might have been," I felt that the Defiant story was the weaker part of the novel. There were some interesting character tidbits that were fun to learn, such as Bashir's method of storing information in a sort of mental Haggia Sophia, and the journey that the four characters (Ezri, Nog, Bashir, and Dax) go on is a great character study, but too much about the "cathedral" is left unexplored.

As has tended to be the case with the books of Mission Gamma so far, I find myself drawn more towards the story of Bajor and Deep Space Nine than the goings-on in the Gamma Quadrant. For unknown reasons, Bajoran First Minister Shakaar is sabotaging the normalization of relations between the Bajorans and the Cardassians, instead pushing for Federation membership before that can happen. Things come to a head as tragedy strikes just as the historic deal is about to be finalized.

For me, the most interesting part of this story is the partial redemption of Vedek Yevir. Yevir had been the one to push through Colonel Kira's attainder after she uploaded the Ohalu prophecies to Bajor's public comnet. The prophesies had been deemed heretical by the Vedek Assembly, and Yevir felt that making them available to the general public would unnecessarily threaten the Bajoran faith. In the tradition of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at its finest, Yevir is revealed to be a complex character with many facets in Cathedral. Rather than simply a one-note foil to our heroes, Yevir begins on the path towards redemption, seemingly about to fulfill the destiny he believes the Emissary set him on in the episode "Rapture."

Vedek Yevir may finally be following the path that The Sisko laid out for him...

Final thoughts:

The writing team of Martin and Mangels maintains the high quality of this miniseries for the most part. As has been the case with the previous books, I was more engaged by the story happening on the station than the Gamma Quadrant portions. However, that story wasn't bad. The characters in this novel come across as real and dynamic rather than one-note villains or heroes. Also, as a special bonus, it was a treat to see the enigmatic Garak, even if only for a few short pages.

Overall, I would give Cathedral a solid four out of five. An excellent entry in what has been the very strong Deep Space Nine relaunch.

More about Cathedral:

Also by Michael A. Martin and Andy Mangels:

My next read:

Due out on Monday the 24th is an e-book exclusive by Star Wars veteran John Jackson Miller: Titan: Absent Enemies, the first follow-up to last year's The Fall. This is Miller's first foray into Trek novels, and I am looking forward to seeing what he does with Riker and his crew! I recently read his Star Wars: Kenobi, the first Star Wars novel I've ever read, and I very much enjoyed it.