Lexie's Reviews > Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Never Ending Sacrifice

Star Trek by Una McCormack
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's review
Jul 16, 2015

it was amazing
bookshelves: series-star-trek, books-owned-read
Read from January 20 to 21, 2014

(I'll be waxing poetic about DS9 as a series in this review and I apologize for that, but I would like it understood as to why I loved this book so very much)

I won't mince words--my fascination with Cardassians stems from the complicated portrayal of them in DS9. Garak at the forefront, but Damar (Dukat's 2nd in command), Tain, Ghemor...even Dukat, they were by far one of the more intriguing races. This book, which serves not only as a (mostly canonical) continuation to DS9, but a direct sequel to the season 2 episode "Cardassians" as well, offered a chance to see Cardassia differently. Not the romanticized version Garak spoke of or the Dominion's puppet that Dukat was in power over, but the average life of a Cardassian youth living through the troubled times of the Empire.

THE NEVER ENDING SACRIFICE is also one of the very few novels I've read that has shown the direct consequences of a decision made by a commander while explicitly stating it was the WRONG choice. Reading this I forgot how early in the show's career the episode aired. Seasons 1-3, while they built towards the Dominion Threat, focused very much on Bajor and how it handled being freed from the Cardassian Occupation.

Much of this was represented through the struggles that Kira - a former Bajoran Terrorist turned Bajoran representative/Sisko's first officer - and the struggles she had adjusting to peace times with the Cardassians. By in large we didn't see the struggles that Cardassia itself went through...which makes sense as really the show wasn't about that.

But they were struggles I cared to know more about. I mean as a child it sort of floated in and out of my mind that every Cardassian we meet sees Cardassia (and the Bajoran Occupation) so differently and then you have characters like O'Brien or Odo who see it MUCH differently. Yet none of those characters were...well for lack of a better word civilian. Military, militia, politician, spy, enemy, terrorist...not a single one was just a bystander.

Then they introduced Rugal. A Cardassian orphan adopted and raised by Bajorans who was, as he admits later in the book, biased against his genetic race from the start not only because his adoptive parents obviously hated his race, but also because he saw first hand (and suffered because of) the devastation his race wrought. He's in only one episode, though he is mentioned later on I believe, but that one episode was enough to light the fires of my young imagination (so interested in ancient civilizations and cultures, so enamored with fictional worlds and peoples).

This book could have very easily felt...contrived I think. McCormack takes a plot point from an episode almost 15 years old, about a character who represented one of the few times (on screen) we see a Starfleet main cast member make a morally wrong, but legally correct decision about. Rugal represented a decision that on paper sounded right--Sisko returned him to his blood family, to a father that wanted him (ostensibly, Cardassian pride in family and lineage is a murky business) and fixed a wrong that should never have happened. Except it did happen and Rugal very clearly felt like he was betrayed by everyone involved.

McCormack takes us from just after that decision to about a decade or more later when Rugal sits down to speak with the Cardassian who thought he was helping him (Garak) all those years ago. They are both very different men, tempered by lost, wistful of their memories and cautiously hopeful that maybe they had helped create a better future for everyone. Its not an...easy or comfortable conversation in all honesty. They've both been alternately exiled and welcomed to their home planet, both have fought to restore it to what they thought was "ideal", both lost family and friends to a fight that should never have happened to begin with.

But that conversation, more than anything else, encapsulated what I love about DS9 and why it remains my favorite Trek and universe and character playground.

More later.
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