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

Star Trek by Una McCormack
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Feb 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: series-star-trek, books-owned-read

(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/Resistance Fighter (depending on who you asked) 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 (especially as outsiders). 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 (at time of publication of this book), 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 on the station. 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. Rugal spends a lot of the early part of the book cursing Garak (and to an extend Starfleet) for their interference. He's young, early teens, and the species he is thrust into is not a forgiving one. He lashes out when he should try diplomacy, yells when a simple word would do. His early days back on Cardassia are the easiest he has however. Soon the Dominion begins to exert control, and through them Dukat plays his games. Games that while not directed at Rugal, affect him all the same.

Because again, Rugal is a bystander, an outsider to this conflict. His father--a failure by Cardassian standards as he has neither the cunning nor the backbone to be ambitious, though he genuinely cares for Rugal--isn't politically important enough to bother with after all. He was discredited after deciding to stand with Rugal (to the immense disappointment of his mother). Rugal meanwhile could care less and almost relishes the chance that Cardassia would burn, would pay for its sins finally. Its not until its too late he understands and feels remorse.

Interestingly enough this is partially due to his meeting and befriending, albeit briefly, Ziyal--Dukat's half Bajoran/half Cardassian daughter (that ultimately leads to his downfall when he stands with her against the wishes of his family and the better judgement of his ambitions). Like Rugal Ziyal grew up on Bajor and like Rugal she suffered for her genetics. Its debatable who had a rougher time of it, but in the end that doesn't matter because they are kindred. Unlike Rugal however Ziyal doesn't despise her Cardassian heritage.

Where Rugal is the extreme cynical end of the spectrum, Ziyal is the optimistic, trusting end. Where Rugal has nothing but contempt for Dukat and Garak's machinations in his life, Ziyal has only hopeful and positive feelings towards both for their part in her life. Indeed as part of Garak and Rugal's last conversation, Rugal mentions that Ziyal thought very highly of him and Garak wistfully replies that she only ever saw the good in him.

More later.
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Reading Progress

February 7, 2010 – Shelved
June 20, 2010 – Shelved as: series-star-trek
January 20, 2014 – Started Reading
January 20, 2014 – Shelved as: to-read
January 20, 2014 –
page 18
5.11%
January 21, 2014 – Finished Reading
June 11, 2014 – Shelved as: books-owned-read
June 11, 2014 – Shelved as: books-owned-read
July 16, 2015 – Shelved as: books-owned-read

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