Just finished the book last night. Posting my thoughts directly without reading anybody else... I'll get to that later. So apologies if it's all been said before.
In general, very impressed. Some better than others, obviously, but that's always the way, and a very strong collection in total.
Romulans: "The First Peer" (Pride)
I had coincidentally just finished reading Summon the Thunder
immediately prior, which had introduced me to Sarith, Anitra, Vrax and so on. So that was a nice surprise for me to pick right up. I enjoyed how the story tied together TOS, Vanguard, the movies and more while also filling a continuity hole (the short-lived Klingon-Romulan alliance) and hewing well to its theme of pride and hubris.
Ferengi: "Reservoir Ferengi" (Greed)
Again, a lot of fun. Dead-on characters, the very enjoyable idea of Brunt going slowly insane with his obsession over Quark while Quark just bobbles along quite happily, but also not shying away from the horrible consequences of their actions. Aww, poor Bijon! It managed the tricky feat of having fun with
the Ferengi without making fun of
Cardassians: "The Slow Knife" (Envy)
Another continuity hole cleverly filled, and another tale excellently told. Garak's appearance was another delightful surprise (and don't tell me it wasn't Garak - that "plain and simple" line was undeniable). I just thought it was a good story until somebody mentioned the Setlik system, and I thought "Holy shit it's the Setlik Massacre!" And then when Enkoa said "I have sources outside the military," it was another "oh shit" moment as the whole thing opened up - I realized Garak had been talking to Enkoa too, and persuading him to attack. I was a little surprised that it was only one ship, and a small one at that, but hey whatever.
If I understand correctly, Garak's purpose was two-fold. First, he wanted to make sure the invasion of Setlik went ahead because Hanno was blocking it, and used Enkoa and Kein to make it happen. And second, he wanted to test the possibility of a leak in the Obsidian Order - if Enkoa didn't attack, that meant he knew it was only farming equipment not military equipment, and that meant there was a leak.
I do wonder though... O'Brien was involved in the Setlik Massacre. Garak knows that, as evidenced by his baiting him in "Empok Nor." But do you think Garak would ever admit his own involvement to O'Brien? On the one hand, no never - Garak does not let secrets out. But I wonder if, in the half-ruined emotional state he is in in "The Calling," Garak might want to divulge his sins in the hope of forgiveness?
Klingons: "The Unhappy Ones" (Wrath)
Though it may seem sacrilege to say it, I feel like this is where it started to slump a bit. Again, a nice hole filled, in which we learned how the lumpy and the smooth Klingons interact. But I just wasn't quite sure of the point of the whole thing, or how the assigned sin of Wrath applied to the situation. I didn't see Wrath leading to anyone's downfall especially. Sorkav certainly had a downfall, but it was racism that led to it. Anyway, it was nice to see Kor, Koloth and Kang's first meeting, and it was fun to see that the Klingon propoganda machine blames the Augment Virus for the war against the Federation. Has it been established how the virus was cured so that K, K & K got their foreheads?
Mirror Universe: "Freedom Angst" (Lust)
I suppose it really was all lust that drove this - Kira's lust for Sisko is what set the whole thing in motion. Another hole filled - how Sisko ended up on Terok Nor (on his way to not
becoming Emissary). Trill sexual fluidity continues, and I'm very pleased that it was not restricted to titillating faux-lesbians this time. No Ferengis killed though - that breaks the tradition! One of the more middling stories that just didn't exite me all that much. Purely IMO of course. But it was good to see the MU's version of the Orion Syndicate.
Borg: "Revenant" (Gluttony)
One of the most terrifying horror stories I've ever read. Incredible work. Again though, I didn't think the Gluttony theme was especially well utilised. That's the trouble when you start metaphor-ificating the Sins - Greed, Gluttony and Lust all start to blend together and become muddy and ill-defined. I had also wondered - all the other stories had been written from the POV of the aliens in question. But how could you possibly write a story from the POV of a Borg? Well, whaddaya know - it was
written from the POV of a Borg. They just didn't know they were Borg yet.
Other thoughts on this story here: http://trekbbs.com/showpost.php?p=3985496&postcount=6
Pakled: "Work Is Hard" (Sloth)
Another delight. Such a perfect distillation of the TNG standard. Even the Enterprise
sections seemed to feed into the comedy. When you've got Geordi's first line being an entire paragraph of impenetrable technobabble, Worf saying "They have no honour!" about eight times and Troi's hilariously, brilliantly lame "Captain, we have to do
something!," how can you not take that as making gentle joshing fun of some of TNG's worst cliches? We've all gotten used to these characters being much more fleshed out thanks to the Lit, but it was great fun to roll that back to when they were pointless and predictable exposition machines. (I just hope all of this was deliberate, or else I've just insulted the author horribly.) I do have to wonder how the Pakled culture can possibly work like that, but that's not Greg Cox's fault - it's "Samaritan Snare"'s.