Finished reading this yesterday while the beloved was freaking out watching the Manchester Derby and I was sat beside him not giving a shit. I'll type up my own thoughts before going back and reading the rest of the thread.
General impression... nice. A strangely quiet and contemplative beginning to what we've been told is a galaxy-shattering crisis in the making.
The vast majority of the story was quiet, gentle conversations, learning our way around the new station, catching up with what everybody's been up to in the meantime. And that's nice, I'm glad we had time for those kind of scenes, because I'm not sure I would have liked yet another big explosive everything-going-wrong blockbuster again so soon. It was nice to just be able to take it slow and spend some quality time with these people.
I did find it strange that I was almost two-thirds the way through the book before anything resembling an actual plot kicked in. And there really only was that one tiny sliver of plot in the whole book - the assassination. Everything else was reactions and conversations and introspection. But I'm okay with that, in fact I enjoyed it as a nice change of pace. We don't always have to be dashing from crisis to drama to crisis all the time.
Ro and Quark - I just adore where their relationship is now. They're there for each other, providing emotional support without making any emotional demands on each other. This book showed the sweetest side to Quark, when he comes to her with no ulterior motive than to offer her a shoulder to cry on and bring her favourite biscuits.
DRG3 sure does love his Alonis, doesn't he? They're obviously one of his 'pet' races that he shoves in wherever he can.
Being head of an entire hospital seems like the perfect move for Bashir - allowing him to stay where he wants and do what he loves while still giving him new challenges so he doesn't get bored like before. Sensible move.
The Kira storyline... hmmm. It went on and it went on and it went on, and to be frank I didn't really see the point. We start by replaying scenes we've already seen, go into a roleplay vision in the tradition of "Far Beyond the Stars," "Horn and Ivory" and Warpath
, take a long and winding road to basically lead us back to more scenes we've already seen. What was the point?
It took me till about page 300 to even get that at least the tunnel portion of the story was a metaphor for rebuilding the wormhole. But what the hell was the rest of it? Were the other ancient Bajoran characters supposed to transpose onto our familiar DS9 characters in some way? If so I didn't see it. If it was supposed to get us to where Kira can explain to Sisko about "the path of sorrow", well that didn't seem to be a question that needed answering because I understood it fine at the end of Raise the Dawn
. So I'm afraid it just came across to me as meandering and pointless.
At least until Altek Dans popped out at the end, who I hadn't even thought was a real person up to that point, just a character in a vision.
Which brings us to Taran'atar. I've missed having him around, certainly. I think this is the first book that has explicitly said he was dead. Up to now it had been left ambiguous - he might have been dead, or he might have been just 'out there' somewhere. I'd been leaning pretty heavily to the latter - exiled but alive - so it threw me a touch when they said he was dead. But obviously they decided to nail it down once and for all to set us up for the final twist.
How can it be Taran'atar if they thought he was dead? Well, I have my theories. I reckon that while Altek was thrown out into the Alpha Quadrant, Kira was thrown out into the Gamma Quadrant at the same time. She describes landing in a cargo bay. Whose? I think it's the Even Odds
, and Taran'atar is one of their crew. They must have saved him at the last second somehow.
I found it slightly strange that a Bajoran councillor who has only been on the council for ten minutes would get put up as Pres pro tem, especially after what had just happened, but I also get the feeling that that's going to be something that will come into play in later books.
So my final score would be above average but not mind-blowing.
Heading back to read the rest of the thread now.