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 on Bajor looks likely to set the military against him. Into this tense situation come Dr. Katherine Pulaski and Dr. Peter Alden. The two soon find themselves at odds with Garak and embroiled in the politics 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.
Reviewed on 26th July 2017
Una McCormack, probably my favourite of the current crop of Star Trek authors, returns to Cardassia for this excellent and deliciously Cardassian tale.
Doctor Pulaski is visiting Cardassia to receive an award, but events start to unfold in interesting ways as Garak moves toward retribution for the crimes his people committed during the occupation of Bajor, and new details about those crimes start to come to light.
I can hardly believe how complex this story is, weaving in threads from across DS9 and earlier novels with the richness of Cardassian society. Both drawing on previous adventures and doing some worldbuilding of her own, McCormack paints an amazing picture of a world growing form its past. I love some of the clever symbolism that weaves in around flowers, art and literature, particularly the focus on the enigma tales, and how these reflect back into the plot. I also loved the setting in a Cardassian university, clearly something the author is well aware of herself, and this really comes across as something there's a deep understanding and appreciation of.
The presentation is good too. The chapters are long, and interspersed with letters written by Garak, which serve to develop both character and, subtly, plot. The tone is quite casual in places (especially the start) which gives another feeling of Cardassia, as it's reminiscent of Garak's storytelling in the TV series.
In case it's not clear, I think this book is great, and I hope for many many more from McCormack. I would strongly recommend reading David Mack's novel 'Control' first though, as one of the plot strands here follows on directly from that novel.