Thursday, October 30, 2014

Night of the Wolves

Star Trek: Terok Nor (A Saga of The Lost Era)
Night of the Wolves, 2345 - 2357 by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison
Published May 2008
Read September 22nd 2014

Previous book (Terok Nor): Day of the Vipers
Next book (Terok Nor): Dawn of the Eagles


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Spoilers ahead for Night of the Wolves and the Terok Nor miniseries!

From the back cover:
Eighteen years into the Occupation, a new star rises in Bajor's sky. It is the seat of power in this system, a place of slave labor and harsh summary judgments, the symbol of Cardassian might and the futility of resisting it. But even as the gray metal crown of Terok Nor ascends to its zenith, ragtag pockets of Bajoran rebels -- including a fierce young fighter named Kira Nerys -- have begun to strike back at their world's oppressors, and they intend to show the Cardassians that the night belongs to them.

My thoughts:

Night of the Wolves, the second book of the Terok Nor trilogy, continues the story of the Cardassian occupation of Bajor. Whereas the first book in the series focused on the lead up to the occupation, here we see life on Bajor under Cardassian rule. It is not a pretty picture.

One huge difference between this novel and the previous one is the way in which it tells its story. In Day of the Vipers, there was a very clear narrative progression, and the sense that one single story was being told. Night of the Wolves (and presumably the third book, Dawn of the Eagles) feels much more like a snapshot of events during this period, jumping from one story to the next in rapid succession. This is not necessarily a bad thing; the authors do an excellent job in stitching together much of the references and flashbacks to the occupation from episodes of Deep Space Nine while filling in the blanks with storytelling of their own. The result is a coherent picture of what the occupation did to Bajor.

A young Ro Laren, her life forever shaped
by her experiences under Cardassian rule.
The Cardassian annexation was a formative event for many of the characters we know and love in Trek. Most notably, Kira and Ro are permanently scarred by their experiences, as are countless other players, both large and small. I was especially enthralled with Ro's back-story as related in Night of the Wolves. The young Ro Laren is representative of one of the most insidious aspects of military occupation: the loss of culture and feelings of resentment and anger in the youth. All that the younger generation has ever known is occupation by the Cardassians. They no longer buy into the beauty and wonder of their own culture, hence Laren's disillusionment with the Bajoran religion. This generation was robbed of their childhood and innocence. This story gives her actions and behavior later in life added meaning and explanation.

At times dark and depressing, Night of the Wolves nevertheless shows glimmers of hope. In the face of Cardassian oppression, a resistance movement has formed, made up of Bajoran freedom fighters intent on reclaiming their world. However, we know from the bits and pieces of the history of the occupation gleaned from episodes of Deep Space Nine that it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

There are some truly exciting scenes in this novel, most notably the depiction of the Shakaar resistance cell's liberation of Gallitep, a Cardassian mining camp filled with Bajoran slaves marked for death. Referred to in the DS9 episode "Duet," seeing the liberation play out was very exciting.

Survivors of Gallitep, a brutal mining project using Bajoran slave labor. Gallitep was liberated by the Shakaar resistance cell, and Kira Nerys played a major role in that operation.

Final thoughts:

In many ways, this miniseries suffers from some of the same problems that the Star Wars prequel films did: it tells a story that does not end well. While the trilogy has to end with the liberation of Bajor, we know that there is going to be a lot of suffering before that happens, which is something that can sour a reader on this series. However, if one can get past that initial trepidation, Terok Nor is a trilogy with an excellent payoff: very well-written books telling an enthralling story about some of my favorite characters in Star Trek.

As a continuity buff and a huge fan of Deep Space Nine, reading this trilogy has been a huge treat for me. In this second book, Perry and Dennison have crafted a stark and brutally honest look at the occupation and the hellish conditions it produced for Bajor and her people. While this is easily one of the darkest chapters in Star Trek history, the long night must eventually end; dawn is coming.

Also by S.D. Perry & Britta Dennison:

Star Trek: Terok Nor: Dawn of the Eagles (2008)
Star Trek: Inception (2010)

My next read:

If all goes according to plan, look for my review of David Mack's brand-new entry into the 24th century storyline, Section 31: Disavowed, one week from today!