In Review: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales

A must-read books for fans of the series.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales by Una McCormack

Published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, published June 27, 2017. Paperback of 356 pages at $7.99. Also available as an Ebook. 

The cover: Against the crimson skies of Cardassia Prime, Elim Garak looks to his right, surprised at something he sees. I’m a huge fan of the character of Garak, so to spy a book that features him on the cover was enough to convince me to pick this up. Andrew J. Robinson looks terrific as the iconic character that viewers could never decide if he was good or evil. I thought that this might be a sequel to the novel Robinson wrote, A Stitch In Time. It’s not, though it does continue his character’s life. Overall grade: A+

The premise: From the back cover, “Elim Garak has ascended to castellan of the Cardassian Union…but despite his soaring popularity, the imminent publication of a report exposing his people’s war crimes during the Occupation of Bajor looks likely to set the military against him. Into this tense situation come (sic) Dr. Katherine Pulaski — visiting Cardassia Prime to accept an award on behalf of the team that solved the Andorian genetic crisis — and Dr. Peter Alden, formerly of Starfleet Intelligence. The two soon find themselves at odds with Garak and embroiled in the policies of the prestigious University of the Union, where a new head is about to be appointed. Among the front-runners is one of Cardassia’s most respected public figures: Professor Natima Lang. But the discovery of a hidden archive from the last years before the Dominion War could destroy Lang’s reputation. As Pulaski and Alden become drawn into a deadly game to exonerate Lang, their confrontation escalates with Castellan Garak — a conflicted leader treading a fine line between the bright hopes for Cardassia’s future and the dark secrets still buried in its past…” I was already willing to purchase this book with Garak being the protagonist. The inclusion of Natima Lang and Dr. Pulaski were the cherries on top. Overall grade: A

The characters: If one enjoyed Elim Garak on the small screen, he will continue to delight in this book. He is continually reminding himself that he is lucky to be in his position as castellan of Cardassia, given his past with the Obsidian Order. As the leader of his people, he now finds himself stressed by the demands of politics, which he finds intriguing but tiring. Reading how he handles this stress and the chaos that erupts around Natima Lang is extremely engrossing. Katherine Pulaski continues to be a firebrand. She’s a terrific doctor, but if her opinion is asked on anything, as it is on a Cardassian talk show, her responses create a political firestorm. I enjoyed that McCormack made the doctor aware of this and that she considers the truth, no matter the cost, necessary in any situation. Her morals are high and she’s definitely not suited to be a public speaker. Peter Alden is a new character who left Starfleet Intelligence for the much calmer world of science. He could be the potential fourth husband to Pulaski, which shows their familiarity with one another and allows them to speak plainly when alone. His former career comes in handy when things start to go wrong. Natima Lang is complex character, who though appearing in only one episode of the television series, has been featured in several novels. Her days as a rabble-rouser are over, though something from her past throws the planet into a frenzy and drives the book’s conflicts. This moment from her past is discovered by Elima Antok, a loyal Cardassian who has a secret from her past as well. Julian Bashir is the source of several unsent letters by Garak at the start of every chapter. The doctor, based on events in other Trek novels, is in a vegetative state on Cardassia, unresponsive to any stimulus. How Garak addresses him is heartbreaking. These characters were true to their appearances on the small screen and had me fall in love with them all over again. Overall grade: A+

The settings: Cardassia is the sole planet of this book, going to several locations: the castellan’s office, the University, Elima’s home, as well as some seedy spots. Garak’s office starts as a neat location, being the seat of power, but became very claustrophobic as his position encounters considerable conflict. The University has all the trappings of a higher place of learning, but being on Cardassia it has several creepy elements, whether in Elima’s work area or at a party. All the locations were described well and served the story. Overall grade: A

The action: There are kidnappings, secret plots, and shots fired that give this novel plenty of action that one would encounter in a modern day thriller. Scenes where Garak confronts ambassadors are just as entertaining as when phasers are fired at the heroes. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Overall grade: A

The conclusion: All the mysteries are revealed, though I wish that one character hadn’t had been revealed as something else, nor the slight gesture in the final chapter. These are minor nicks against a solid finale. Overall grade: A-

The final line: A must-read books for fans of the series, as it shows Cardassia’s painful journey to make itself better while atoning for its past sins. If one hasn’t watched the series, the impact probably won’t be as strong. As a long time fan, I loved this book. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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