|Mass market paperback, 394 pages|
Acquired September 2012
Read June 2019
by David R. George III
August 2383–September 2384
Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn are definitely one of those duologies that's a single novel in two parts. In my review of Plagues of Night, I wrote, "Plagues of Night [is] very much a novel of set-up, especially for the traditional protagonist characters [...]. We get glimpses of Sisko captaining the Robinson, the Enterprise battling Tzenkethi privateers, and updates for a number of long-unseen characters on Deep Space 9 (plus introductions to new ones). These characters don't really drive any kind of plot, except on a personal level. The plot drivers all happen at the galactic political level, with characters like Praetor Gell Kamemor and President Nan Bacco making the choices that shape the story." I also said I felt like I couldn't really judge it until I read part two.
I don't think Raise the Dawn lived up to the set-up of Plagues of Night. Plagues of Night felt like watching David R. George play a game of cosmic chess, moving characters into position for some kind of exciting end game. Unfortunately, no exciting end game ever emerges. Instead, it feels as though the book is a series of conversations between people about how much they do not know about things. President Bacco talks to Esperanza Piñiero, Praetor Gell Kamemor talks to her nephew, Sisko talks to Odo, Kamemor talks to Bacco, around and around this novel goes with long conversations about how much no one knows about what's going on, with no new information being uncovered. It's especially frustrating because the reader does know what's going on. It's not until around 300 pages into this novel of almost 400 that I felt like people really began to figure anything out worth knowing. The end does have a pretty dramatic climax, but by that point I was too checked out to enjoy it very much, although Odo becoming a space creature and flying into the Bajoran Wormhole is pretty badass.
The really weird thing about the book is that when I got to the end, I realized Gell Kamemor is the protagonist. Its her decisions that tend to move things forward; the antagonists (Tomalak and Sela) are primarily operating against her. This is okay, though I wish Kamemor was more interesting; mostly she seems to just give long speeches about how she's a nice Romulan. I guess, based on some comments characters make, she was in The Lost Era: Serpents Among the Ruins? I don't remember her at all.
But if Gell Kamemor is the protagonist... what are all these other characters doing in the book? That Deep Space 9 should be destroyed in a book very much not a Deep Space Nine books reeks of the worst aspects of comic book crossovers, where some mid- or lower-tier character is cynically killed or maimed in a high-tier book to prove the situation is serious without actually hurting any high-tier characters (e.g., Infinite Crisis, Infinite Crisis Companion, World War III). It just seems weird that something as titanic as destroying DS9 would not really result in a story about DS9, but just raise the stakes in a story about Gell Kamemor. We get a lot of the DS9 crew on Bajor post-destruction, but it's not really a story, more snapshots of exposition so that we know where the new DS9 comes from when it finally materializes (it's halfway done by the time of the book's epilogue), so I assume I will be seeing it in future novels. O'Brien and Nog come back, Quark is doing a thing, Ro is in charge. It's all kind of pointless within the context of story actually being told here, and it's all very low-key given how weighty the actual destruction is. One would hope that the destruction of DS9 would feel important to the characters and stories of DS9, but it's just kind of a thing that happened.
Finally, Sisko. Sisko finally goes back to his family in this book, but I found the explanation of the Prophets' prophecy tortured and ultimately unsatisfying. Sisko couldn't be with Kasidy because it would lead to sorrow, but the sorrow actually came from not being with Kasidy because he ran away from her because of the prophecy, so he can be with Kasidy because... you can't step in the same river twice? What was the point of this whole storyline, because it just makes Sisko look like a giant asshole. It's hard for me to believe Kasidy would even want him back after all this, because who wants a spouse whose reaction to crisis is to run off with no discussion? He's clearly not committed to her or their child or their relationship in any meaningful way, even if he did technically come home in the end.
- No one mentions that this is actually the second time Odo plunged into the Bajoran Wormhole like a badass. (Time's Enemy is technically in continuity thanks to S.C.E. and DTI.)
- Like me, David R. George seems to have found Nog's motivations for joining the Challenger crew in Indistinguishable from Magic confusing, so when Ro asks why Nog did it, Nog himself can't provide an answer-- and then provides four different ones, none of which convince. I feel like I would have glossed over this instead of spending two ultimately unsatisfactory pages on it.
- Lots of discussion of the status of Andorians in Starfleet; no mention of how Starfleet recalled Andorians from sensitive posts in Fallen Gods. And hey, I'm assuming those transporter duplicates will become important any book now.
- This book could be a hundred pages shorter without all the exposition. I feel like the dialogue is always contorting to have the characters communicate things that 1) could be more smoothly communicated in narration, 2) the reader actually already knows, because they saw the tv show (or, in some cases, read this very book), and/or 3) don't actually matter. Like, there are multiple discussions of the so-called planet in the wormhole from "Emissary." But never upon watching "Emissary" did I think there really was a planet, and it ultimately doesn't even matter, so why does it need to be crowbarred into dialogue multiple times?
- The narration itself does this too. For example, at one point Picard thinks to himself about who Kira is, how he knows who Kira is, and how the Enterprise rescued Kira earlier in the book. I don't need the specifics of Picard's knowledge of Kira spelled out (I'm happy to know they know each other), and why do I need to be told the Enterprise rescued her? I remember it because it happened in the book I am reading!
- I found the motivation of the DS9 bomber profoundly unsatisfying and improbable.