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The enigmatic Garak—Cardassian-in-exile on space station Deep Space Nine—refers to himself as just a simple tailor, but everyone knows that there's more to him than that. Why was he banished from his home planet? And why does he choose exile on Deep Space Nine?

396 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2000

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About the author

Andrew J. Robinson

6 books51 followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author by this name in the Goodreads database.

Andy Robinson is a professor of theatre practice and member of the MFA Acting faculty of the USC School of Dramatic Arts, as well as a graduate of the New School for Social Research and a Fulbright scholar at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he trained as an actor.

His professional career has encompassed theatre, film and TV as an actor and a director. As an actor and director, he has worked in Europe and throughout the United States in over a hundred theatrical productions—which include Broadway, off-Broadway, off-off, L.A. and regional theatres. Robinson was a founding member of La MaMa Plexus, the Antaeus Classic Theatre Company, and the Matrix Theatre Company where he functioned as co-artistic director for 10 years. Film acting credits include the original cult classics Dirty Harry and Hellraiser, as well as The Drowning Pool, Shoot to Kill, Mask, Cobra and Charley Varrick; and TV includes numerous episodes from Bonanza to the recurring role of Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and the TV films The Atlanta Child Murders, The Trial of Bernhard Goetz, Incident at Vichy and Liberace (title role). He directed episodes of Deep Space Nine and Voyager, and was a staff director on CBS's Judging Amy. He has been nominated for an Emmy and won several L.A. Drama Critics Circle and Ovation Awards for both acting and directing.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 338 reviews
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,130 reviews3,554 followers
March 6, 2016
It's not easy to be a Cardassian.


The life of Elim Garak in his own words...


Since the novel is written by Andrew J. Robinson, which is the actor who played the recurring character in the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

I'm glad that they gave the chance to Robinson to do this book, since he really did a great job at it.

This novel tells the life of Elim Garak since he enters at pre-teen age to the Cardassian military school, passing to young adult with his years on the Obsidian Order (the Cardassian Secret Police), his arrival to Terok Nor (eventually renamed to Deep Space Nine), and his return to Cardassia at the aftermath of the Dominion War.

This narrative is managed with leaps on his "past" (the events previous to the begining of the TV series) and his "present" (the events after the end of the TV series).

This is a book not only for the ones who want to know about the life of Garak, but also for the people who wants to know more about the Cardassian race.


Along the book, you not only will known more about the motivations and forming events in the life of Elim Garak but also you will understand how the Cardassian race works and thinks.

This is a novel with many angles, as you can notice on the labels that I chosen for it, the story has military issues, also a big espionage aproach (as you can expect due the connection of Garak with the Obsidian Order) but also there is a lot of politics stuff since you get the known position of the Cardassian Union but also the struggles of that people to chose a political path after the disastrous position that the Cardassian race is after the Dominion War.

Depending of how familiar you are with the apparitions of Cardassians on Star Trek: The Next Genertation and Deep Space Nine, you will find a lot of known names of characters along with some new ones, but if not, don't worry, since the narrative of Robinson let you to enjoy the story and you will know what you need to know to understand this book.


My only complains about this great writing work, well maybe they are two really:

First , you have at some point still a "Garak-in-formation" and bam! he arrives to Terok Nor and you have the "Cynical-Garak" that you well know from the series, and not matter that there is some event in between, hardly you sense a transition, I think that the change is kinda abrupt.

Second , the story left some sub-plots without a good closure (maybe to explore more in a next novel?) but nevertheless you have some odd feeling that some events are missing to develop and/or to give a proper closure.

Still, nevertheless it's a great reading and if you are looking for a different option of a Star Trek novel, certainly this is a totally different kind of story and narrative style from the usual Star Trek novel, so may can give it one a chance.

Profile Image for Beth.
57 reviews
April 22, 2008
Not just another Star Trek spin-off. I've read a bunch, and not many of them rate being added to a list of what I have read (they are not usually very memorable.)

Garak was an intriguing character, one of my favorites, and this novel (for those who don't know, and are interested--I can't imagine who) was written by Andrew Robinson, the actor that played him. I think that's why it rings true to the character I became so familiar with. The emphasis is not on the parallels to real-world events Trek specializes in, but Garak's backstory: How was a lonely child transformed into a ruthless agent, and how did he manage to recover his conscience and soul?
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,162 reviews105 followers
September 26, 2019
This is essentially the autobiography of Garak from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, as told by Andrew J. Robinson, the actor who portrayed the infamous exiled Cardassian spy/tailor and master obfuscator. Garak is perhaps Star Trek's most secretive and complex character. His is a dark and tortured soul, having committed some truly atrocious acts, yet he is not without morality and compassion, and not to mention a sharp tongue and quick wit. Cardassians have always seemed to me one of the most fascinating races in Star Trek, as cunning as Romulans and as brash and prideful as Klingons.

Bashir: Out of all the stories you told me, which ones that you told me were true and which ones weren't?
Garak: My doctor, they all were true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.

Robinson perfectly captures Garak's voice, recounting his life in a series of letters to Doctor Bashir, his good friend on Deep Space Nine. Garak's childhood and formative years are brimming with intrigue and struggle, with his adolescent years spent at a brutally rigorous institute for "security" training, followed by his training and ascendancy at the elite and highly secretive Obsidian Order. Much light is shed on the circumstances leading up to Garak's ultimate exile to Deep Space Nine. The recountings also give a fascinating look at Cardassia's highly ordered society, with its rigid hierarchies, both before and after it's devastation as a result of the Federation-Dominion war.
Profile Image for Mark.
105 reviews
November 14, 2011
I have long been familiar with the actor Andrew J. Robinson before he came to play Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. You may remember him from Dirty Harry (1971) as the Scorpio killer, or from movies like Hellraiser (1987) and Shoot To Kill (1988).
Of all the Star Trek spin-offs, Deep Space Nine remains my favorite. While I would be hard-pressed to pick just one character that stands out, I always knew that if the storyline involved Garak, things would be interesting. Garak usually had some of the best lines.
The first, and probably best episode that highlighted Garak was called "The Wire." Andrew Robinson gives one of his best performances as a delirious Garak whose life is in danger as a result of a misused brain implant. As the episode progresses, he has told so many versions of his past, Bashir (and the audience) don't know what to believe. Finally, after Garak is well again, Bashir asks him, "Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true?"
"My dear doctor," Garak says, "They're all true."
"Even the lies?"
"Especially the lies."
With A Stitch In Time, we are given the chance to see just how true the lies were. Written in the form of journal entries, and told in non-linear fashion, Andrew Robinson has written a compelling account of Garak's life before his exile to DS9, and his life after his return to his now-shattered homeworld of Cardassia. Garak's careers as a gardener, spy and tailor are each shown to be fascinating in their own way. You truly learn why Garak is the way he is. A word of advice: don't call him "spoonhead" (a derogatory term for Cardassians, referring to the oval-shaped indentation in their foreheads).
The characters are rich, distinct, and complex. Though it's set on an alien world with alien sensibilities, I was drawn into the history of the world and its people. The pacing is excellent. Robinson knows just when to switch from one time period to the other, without losing the threads of his other storylines and their requisite characters.
It is also quite refreshing to see Robinson's interpretation of familiar characters such as Bashir, Quark, Kira, Odo...and Garak's mentor and head of the Obsidian Order, Enabran Tain. I was particularly interested in how Gul Dukat would be illustrated, as seen through Garak's eyes (a hint: they really don't like each other). Some have speculated whether Robinson actually wrote this novel or had a ghost writer. According to various press releases, Robinson did indeed write it himself, based on his impromptu performances at various Trek conventions. I never doubted it. Throughout the book Elim Garak's voice rang true and clear.
I hope that Andrew Robinson will write more novels. I don't care if it's Star Trek, science fiction or contemporary fiction. I will read it.
Profile Image for Daniel Kukwa.
4,010 reviews90 followers
August 28, 2011
A 400 page epic I finished in a matter of hours. Engrossing, melancholy, emotional and astonishing...the ultimate last word on Garak, from the pen of Garak himself (Andrew J. Robinson). There are several books that compete for the rank of best "Star Trek" novel...and this one may have actually topped all the others. This is a truly special read.
Profile Image for The Shayne-Train.
363 reviews90 followers
January 20, 2021
A spectacular story told by a spectacular character

Now hold tight to some nearby furniture as I reveal....I'm a Trekkie.
I know, right? Well, I am. And my favorite out of all the Treks is Deep Space 9. While it starts off in the same cheesy, episodically safe way the previous Treks had, it eventually turns into the filthy, blood-spattered underbelly of the Trek universe, and I love it for that.

One of my favorite character's in DS9 is a plain, simple tailor named Garak. He is also one of the most devious, brilliant, and dangerous people in the series.


This story is told from his perspective, written by the actor who portrayed him. And it is GLORIOUS.
Profile Image for Dianah.
71 reviews2 followers
July 8, 2010
It's always interesting to read stories written by actors about the characters they portrayed. Sometimes it works better than others. Avon: A Terrible Aspect by Paul Darrow left me wondering how Darrow had managed to portray the character so well without understanding him. With The Companions of Doctor Who: Harry Sullivan's War, Ian Marter captured his character perfectly, but, if memory serves (it has been 24 years or so since I read it), it had some writing and plotting issues. So it was with some trepidation I picked up A Stitch in Time by Andrew J. Robinson.

Deep Space Nine is my favorite of the Trek series and the brilliantly complicated character of Garak is one of my favorite characters. Andrew J. Robinson did such an amazing job bringing him to life on screen I felt an uncharacteristic optimism he would be able to bring that spark to the page. I wasn't wrong. Robinson captures Garak's tone and voice perfectly. While it would be easy to gloss over Garak's flaws, Robinson gives them their deserved attention.

That's not to say there aren't some issues. Set after the final episode, the novel is written as a series of memoirs and letters to Dr. Bashir. It makes it easier keep Garak's voice this way, but it makes for a difficult story to follow. I lost track of some of the character names and found myself going back to see who was which "Lubak". Even so, if I think about how Garak would write a book, this is it. There are even moments when I wonder if he is "dissembling" particularly in regards to Tain which delighted me no end.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It makes me wonder what happened to Garak after he sent the memoir to Bashir. Even at 100k words, I still wanted more. For fans of DS9, particularly fans of the plain, simple tailor, add it to your list without hesitation.
Profile Image for DivaDiane.
948 reviews90 followers
August 16, 2022
5 stars for nostalgia

This book is indispensable for any serious fan of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I have to admit that I have not actually watched DS9 in its entirety (I’ll be making up for that lapse as soon as we finish watching TNG with our son), but I know the basic events. I’m sure if I did know the show better it would’ve been even more impactful. As it was, though, i loved the sections that fleshed out Garak’s childhood/schooling, his career and early exile on what was later called Deep Space 9, and after his return to Cardassia. There were only a few references to events and such that I haven’t “witnessed” and while it did make me feel like I was missing something, they were few and concentrated at the beginning.
The book is very well written, engaging and emotional. My only wish would’ve been to flesh out those oblique references to the show, so that someone like me, or with a poor memory (could also be me!) doesn’t feel at sea. A minor quibble since I’m probably the only one.
Profile Image for Dustin.
1,020 reviews8 followers
April 26, 2015
Memoirs of a Tailor.

Andrew J. Robinson's performance as Garak over the years showed that he put a lot of thought into the character. With the series over he's written one of the best Trek tie-in books I've read to to tell the story of Garak's rise and fall that led him to become the plain, simple tailor of Deep Space Nine and also to give a glimpse of what has happened to Cardassia since the end of the series.
Profile Image for Casey McKinnon.
41 reviews35 followers
October 12, 2010
I read this book right after DS9 finished airing and I absolutely adored it. Andrew Robinson knows the character of Elim Garak better than anyone and fleshes out his backstory with ease and intrigue. I'm currently reading this book again a second time and it makes me want to rewatch the whole series again.
Profile Image for Samara.
32 reviews4 followers
June 12, 2014
NOTE: This review is for the Kindle version, and contains a few references to Kindle-specific problems, as well as some spoilers for the overall novel.

At its core, A Stitch in Time is an excellent character piece. The novel is certainly not a literary one, but nevertheless the writing is solid, straight forward, and well cut. I'll try to avoid too many tailor puns, but I'm being honest when I say that Robinson stitches together the various disparate parts of Garak revealed in the TV series into a cohesive, well-planned ensemble that's as honest as it is disarming, and he does it with the kind of precise skill that could only come from someone who has spent a long time inhabiting and thinking about his character.

On a technical level, Robinson is certainly no Kafka. Despite being about a spy, Robinson's writing lacks metaphorical depth, and his words (with a few notable exceptions) can be taken at face value with little to no loss in hidden meaning. However, considering that the novel is much more a character study than an intended epic, this isn't necessarily a flaw and works in favor of establishing the confessional style of Garak's address to Dr. Bashir.

Outside of this, on a basic level I was quite irritated with whoever was responsible for putting together the Kindle version of the book-- there were quite a few format errors that completely slipped by any possible editor it might have had, including one hilarious example where Barkan Lokar's name is suddenly Balkan, among other typos, punctuation errors, and sometimes entirely missing words. However, that's not really Robinson's fault but that of an inattentive editor, so it's not quite relevant to the review.

On a narrative level, I have little criticism. Robinson, like many actors, has a knack for storytelling. The novel moves along quite nicely and gives almost exactly enough information to satisfy the audience without becoming tedious. His Cardassia is a believable one, from the social structure (and it's rationalization) to his original characters, and the times when other DS9 characters appear are passable, if lacking the same depth in their personalities as afforded Garak and other Cardassians. In fact, the only moment that felt just a little too fanfiction-like was an encounter between Garak and an inebriated Klingon with a similar fear of small places-- I found it hard to believe that even a very drunk claustrophobic Klingon warrior would be reduced to tears and begging in such a situation. Drunken rage and humiliated submission, yes, but child-like tears... not so much.

The most important part of the novel, though, is of course Garak himself. and Robinson did a superb job of striking a balance between sympathetic outcast and state-made monster. Told in the first person, Garak makes no apologies or excuses for the murders and betrayal's he commits as an Obsidian agent. Any regret shown during those times is often of a shallow nature, such as passingly regretting the assassination of a Romulan politician because he was "starting to like the man". He shows no regret for, nor tries to hide, his ambition and the casualties that it occasionally resulted in, nor does he apologize for his satisfaction from a "job well done"-- be it a mended hem or a brutal interrogation. I think this is an extremely important part of Garak's character to include, because it reminds the audience that Garak is by no means perfect, or even what one would describe as a good man.

Yet Garak isn't heartless either; though his morals are often confused by Tain's early grooming and Garak's experience at Barram and in the Order, he does have a sense of right and wrong in relation to his work and his personal world. He struggles to find the line, but when he steps over it he genuinely feels sorry, though survival instincts almost invariably trump his regret. Robinson really does an excellent job of portraying a very delicate character arch that explores the growing turmoil of Garak's inner life as his slow understanding of himself places him at odds with the path he has been groomed for and set upon by Tain and Mila.

It's clear that Robinson knows what he's doing in this regard, and by the end of the novel Garak's early words in the prologue --"I am an unfinished man"-- really sum up the novel. Were this novel slightly more literary in nature, there might be plenty of analysis to be done on the nature of gardening and sewing and how each can serve as a metaphor for the unraveling, rebuilding, unraveling, and rebuilding that goes on in Garak's world to culminate in his character growth. However, Robinson (whether through intention or lack of ability) steers clear of pushing those points too far. As someone who enjoys that type of layered meaning, I was very aware of it's lack, but I think for the average reader it might be preferred that way.

One last thing I wanted to speak on, which --while not the most important aspect of the novel-- nevertheless holds some significance for me on a personal level: the portrayal of Garak's sexuality.

Before I read the book, I read an interview excerpt in which Robinson talks about how he avoided any explicit material for audience purposes. This isn't surprising, since even the most grim versions of the Trek universe are still mostly kid-accessible and the franchise maintains a precarious balance between being family friendly and being somewhat realistic about the lives of adult military members. While I understood his intention in maintaining an all-ages novel, it was apparent while reading that something was missing-- especially when you consider how very passionate Garak is in his expressions otherwise.
Yet despite this, I really have nothing but praise for the way that Garak's sexuality is presented. For as much inner turmoil as he goes through, Garak never spends unnecessary time questioning his attraction to the men and women that enter his life, nor does he ever apologize, mask, or lie about it. He is attracted to who he is attracted to, and there's never any question of the validity of his feelings in the moment, nor negating them when objectively viewing the past. His romance with Palandine is his most long lasting, and the one most explored in the book, but it doesn't feel like the typical Hetero-Ever-After type of love that makes other attractions look like experimenting. It's a deeply felt connection, one that he might have continued to share with Lokar as well as Palandine had Lokar not turned out to be a manipulative liar. Despite Lokar's betrayal, Garak never goes back to revise his initial attraction to him. He leaves it as is, condemning himself not for having those feelings but rather only for being fooled by Barkan's mask.

In terms of other, less explored attractions, I think it's very important to consider two things: one, that Garak states near the end that the quickest way to his heart is through conversation, and two, that the entire novel is written in context of a very long, confessional letter to his dear friend Dr. Bashir. I'm not saying this as a shipper --I am, at best, mildly affectionate of Garak/Bashir-- but it can't be denied that Garak deeply values his conversations with Bashir as well as other characters that he admittedly finds attractive, like Pythas and Dr. Parmak. On a personal level, I find Garak's sexuality as presented to be lovely, as it is a rare representation of bi/pan/omnisexuality that has all the depth of multilevel affection and attraction without the hypersexual stereotype or confused questioning that usually accompanies it in media. However, he's not made "safe"/sexless either-- Garak states very clearly that he often has one night stands to satisfy basic needs. Again, no questioning his real feelings for Palandine because of this, no demonizing it as greedy or confused (though, while I doubt Robinson would include that were Garak female, it is a point that Garak is male and therefore not quite so subject to bias against casual sex). It just is, as it just is for heterosexuals in mainstream media.
Overall, within the constraints presented by keeping it all-ages friendly, Robinson managed to write a very touching, very complicated portrayal of non-hetero sexuality/romance without making it either a "phase" or turning it into a cause. Of all the things done well in this novel, that is the one I appreciate the most.

Final score? As a character study I give A Stitch in Time a 5 out of 5. Robinson did an excellent job of taking what was given to us on Deep Space Nine and expanding it into an insightful, natural growth of Elim Garak's character. As a novel it gets a 4 out of 5, as it was written with a solid grasp on storytelling even if it does lack a certain depth. As a Kindle version, it gets a 3 out of 5-- the editors really fell asleep on the job, but it wasn't so bad as to be unreadable. Overall I really suggest it to anyone who ever found Elim Garak to be an appealing character and who might like to learn more about Cardassia. Don't expect much in terms of other DS9 characters, but if that's alright with you then it's time well spent.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jenny T.
821 reviews39 followers
February 27, 2013
One of the best Star Trek books out there -- the memoirs of Elim Garak (Cardassian gardener, student, spy, tailor, and diplomat) as told by the actor that played him. The book was well-written, with a fantastic exploration of the Cardassian educational and political systems and insight into the Obsidian Order, with some GREAT character backgrounds.

The book alternates between Garak's work helping Cardassia recover after the Dominion War and the story of his growing up, discovering his true parentage, working within the Order, and finally ending up as the only Cardassian on DS9.

Garak himself is wonderfully complicated, and I'd like a pet regnar now.
Profile Image for Sohvi.
260 reviews12 followers
April 10, 2018
This was actually pretty well written! Surprisingly entertaining to get back to one of my all time favourite DS9 characters.

Now, I still expect Alexander Siddig to keep his word and write a conclusion for this. I assume it will be about Julian and Garak living happily together as a retired couple who raise corgis and go to opera once a month (Julian complains that Cardassian operas are way too heavy, and Garak thinks that this is only further evidence that Julian needs the cultural education in orders to learn to appreciate true art.)
Profile Image for Justin Howe.
Author 17 books34 followers
January 21, 2023
A bit plotless and sometimes it's hard to remember who everyone is, but this brings some of the gray of John Le Carre's spy novels to the Star Trek universe and I am here for that. Also, Garak's the only character in the show whose shame and self-loathing are integral to his character and that's relatable.
Profile Image for Matt Tomaso.
34 reviews3 followers
December 27, 2012
Surprisingly excellent biography of a great character from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A Stitch in Time is a semi-postmodern mosaic of interwoven retrospectives, soliloquys and and first-person stories written in the voice of Garak, the brilliant Cardassian tailor, or is it "spy"? The action takes place before, during and after DS9, from the perspective of an Elim Garak once again reinventing himself and Cardassia after the empire's liberation from the military's Central Command.

Mr. Robinson, who really brought Garak to life on the show, is not only a talented actor, but a remarkably good writer with a very vivid imagination. The book, staying true to the character's inherent ambiguity, resolves only a few key conflicts, but is nevertheless deeply satisfying for fans and is just edgy and experimental enough to leave much to the reader's interpretation. I only wish Mr. Robinson could find it in his heart to give us more.
Profile Image for Dan.
312 reviews
August 31, 2018
An absolutely essential Star Trek novel for fans of Deep Space Nine and Garak in particular. Garak's life story as told by the actor who played him? How can you not love this? And Andrew Robinson is more than up to the task of telling this particular story. One of the best Trek novels of all time, A Stitch in Time earns absolute top marks from me.

Full review: http://www.treklit.com/2018/08/DS927....
Profile Image for Haden.
99 reviews5 followers
December 31, 2019
between this and "the nexus" i feel like a wild animal. i'm about to start throwing rocks, but like. in a good way. good rocks.
May 11, 2020
Fun book. It was nice to spend some more time with Garak and to explore Cardassia through him. Must read for a DS9 fan.
Profile Image for Brian.
650 reviews78 followers
November 19, 2020
Much to my surprise when my book group picked this book, I had added it to my Goodreads listings back in 2014. I was so surprised because I'm not really a Star Trek fan--almost all my affection for Star Trek is for the original series, and even then, only through books like Spock's World. I read a ton of books as a kid when I was on vacation and would pick up whatever fantasy and sci fi the library in my grandparents' town had, and it included a bunch of original series books. That's my Star Trek. I've never seen a single episode of Deep Space 9.

That's a problem here, and that's why gave it three stars. A Stitch in Time is about Elim Garak, a Cardassian left behind on what once was the Cardassian mining station Terok Nor and became the Federation outpost Deep Space 9 when the Cardassians withdrew. The story jumps between multiple time periods--Garak's childhood and early career when he was taken away to be trained as an operative of the Cardassian state, the present(?) onboard Deep Space 9 that focuses on his friendship with Dr. Julian Bashir, and a future on a bombed-out Cardassia in the aftermath of the Dominion War. I knew literally nothing about Garak before reading this book, and Wikipedia tells me that:
While during most episodes of the series, he is indeed a harmless tailor, he is also a complex character whose portrayal often hints at hidden secrets and back-story, and he displays competence in a wide range of skills and knowledge in a crisis.
...so I guess this book is the reveal of his secret backstory? Cardassian super-spy Elim Garak, demoted after an affair with a superior's wife and sentenced to tailory, but still able to use his spy powers for the good of the Federation. Or in this book, mostly just learning to be a super-spy and philosophizing.

There were two problems that hampered my enjoyment of the book. The first is that it's clearly designed for people who have seen Deep Space 9. This is not a problem, and can actually be a benefit to those people since the author doesn't need a lot of "As you know..." exposition to tell the reader who the Dominion or the Founders or Gul Dukat are. I only know some of those because I used to spend a lot of time hanging out on Memory Alpha reading articles, but it doesn't really give me the context. I didn't realize that Major Kira was Bajoran until someone in my book group mentioned it, because I don't think the book itself ever does. Similarly, the only interactions between Dr. Bashir and Garak I'm familiar with are the ones I became familiar with by reading them in this book. I had a nice time reading but the more I read, the more I felt like something was missing.

The other problem was the characterization of Cardassian society as compared to humans. We learn that humans are individualists who value freedom and Cardassians subordinate themselves to society for the good of the whole. Cardassians also don't play games--the only competitions they engage in are ruthless politics and competitions to determine social rank. They hide their emotiojs, and I could go on and on but maybe you know where I'm going with this. It basically mirrors classic orientalist propaganda, with the inscrutable Asian vs. the demonstrative European, except now the Asians are literal aliens. I'm really not a big fan of entire species as monocultures considering how diverse just humans are, and even the end of the book pushes back against the essentialist view of Cardassianism, it showed up early on and soured my enjoyment just a bit.

I had heard that this was one of the best Star Trek tie-in novels, and that very well may be true. But that "tie-in" is the operative word. Having never seen Deep Space 9, there's nothing to tie it to for me, so I was left feeling unsatisfied when it was done. Perhaps this is the cherry on top for a true fan, but I just wanted some cake.
Profile Image for Ella Jeanne.
72 reviews2 followers
May 7, 2021
This was one of the best Star Trek novels I've ever read. It's truly a testament to Andrew Robinson's talent as an actor and a writer that he gave such a rich and full backstory to Garak.
And what a backstory.
The gambit of emotions this book made me feel was truly astounding.
What I truly appreciated is that while this book fleshes out Garak's past, there's still enough mystery, enough unanswered questions for us to keep guessing and to keep him an enigma.
Which I believe is what the simple tailor would want.
Profile Image for AJ.
36 reviews1 follower
May 19, 2023
Not just a good Trek story, but good sci-fi in general. Well written, clever, and politically aware. Enjoyed this novel a lot.

Edit: Just found out some of the cast is doing an audiobook version. Listened to a sample and holy crap is it good.
Profile Image for Denise.
6,467 reviews105 followers
April 15, 2020
Having just recently watched the delightful 2018 DS9 documentary What We Left Behind, I felt a sudden urge to delve back into this world... and since I didn't have the time to fit all seven seasons into my schedule right now for a marathon re-watch, I figured it was high time I got back to the tie-in novels. This one, exploring the backstory of one of DS9's most fascinating and complex characters, I'd been looking forward to reading for a long, long time - and it turned out to be just as excellent a read as I'd hoped. Robinson did an amazing job with it, his unique insight into the character was exactly what the book needed to make it one of the best DS9 books I've read so far.
Profile Image for Emily Lo.
Author 5 books5 followers
February 16, 2021
I am a huge fan of DS9 and Garak as a character (who may be the best character in television history). This was a really intriguing book and provided so much insight into why Garak is the way he is.
Profile Image for JJ W..
942 reviews57 followers
September 17, 2020
Wow. Wow wow.

So here's the thing: Andy Robinson is the one who portrayed Garak on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so if there's anybody who's spent a lot of time thinking about who Garak was and why he was the way he was, it's Andy. And I love that he goes full-tilt for this; the worldbuilding here is amazing as Andy crafts cities, histories, intrigue, and pride, deepening the reality of the Cardassians as a people. This is a book about characters being so very human, for all that they're lizard aliens.

A thing that I don't usually like but that Andy did very well is overlapping multiple timelines. The book is written as a letter to Dr. Julian Bashir, Garak's one real friend back on Deep Space Nine, so there's the timeline of Garak in the present as he works to rebuild a shattered Cardassia. This thread is beautiful and haunting and is very adept at showing how resilient the Cardassians are even while grieving terribly. The letter is meant to explain to Bashir how Garak got to the place he got, so a second timeline is his own life--his "memoir," he calls it. This gives us the backstory that's hinted at in the show: what it was like growing up with Enabran Tain, how Garak first started working for the Obsidian Order, what got him exiled. This is also a haunting thread as Garak is pushed and molded and inescapably made into the person he was; it definitely makes a monster sympathetic, adding to the work Andy had already done on the show itself of that. And a third timeline is Garak's experience on Deep Space Nine. I'm not completely sure why this one was woven in (in terms of the purpose of telling Bashir these odd tidbits), but I was totally on board. We get to see favorite and familiar characters but also get a stronger flavor of what exile was really like for Garak--in a word, rough.

This is fanfiction at its finest. Andy has created a plausible and grand origin story for an already great character and I devoured it. Fair warning: if you haven't seen Deep Space Nine, you really aren't going to get a lot of the story. I imagine it would be interesting, but Andy never stops to explain the foundations of names, places, or relationships--he assumes you've seen the show. Also, there are a couple of characters that fall by the wayside a bit; the relationship with Pythas Lok feels unfinished, for example.

But I loved this and am so delighted Andy took the time to write it. (There are several sequels on Archive of Our Own if you want to keep going after you read it; I highly recommend "Under the Blind Moon," which is long but lovely.)
Profile Image for Mrugesh.
47 reviews4 followers
February 9, 2012
"Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't?" -- DS9, Season 2, Episode 22, The Wire, Bashir to Garak.

This book is fantastic. Absolutely must read for a DS9 and especially a Garak fan. He's simply one of the best characters I've ever come across, not just in Star Trek and the book does him complete justice!

The book tells the story of Garak's life, from his own point of view, as a communique to Doctor Bashir. These biographical chapters are intertwined with the happenings on DS9 during the Dominion War and on Cardassia, post-war. The pacing is perfect. The stories are intriguing. I could visualise all the scenes portrayed in the book. The DS9 chapters brought up images of Sisko, Odo, Quark, Bashir.. It's brilliant. I felt like I hadn't had enough of Garak in DS9 itself. This book is the perfect complement to DS9.

"My dear Doctor, they're all true."
"Even the lies?"
"Especially the lies."

Yes, especially the lies, but not how you might have imagined. If you've ever wondered exactly what caused his exile or about the assassination of an important Romulan by a Gardner, read this book!
Profile Image for Rebecca.
785 reviews122 followers
March 12, 2020
4.5 stars. I've missed Deep Space 9 a lot. I could hear Garak's tone and inflections perfectly in this book. I wish we had an audiobook of it read by Andrew Robinson. I loved learning more about Cardassian culture and religion. His first interaction with the Federation and comparing views on play, games, and sports was entertaining and fascinating. I loved the prose, and many quotes resonated with me. I wonder though if this book has killed some of the mystery of Garak that makes him so enjoyable a character. Of course that's if even this account of just plain and simple Garak can be trusted. Because it's all true, especially the lies.
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