Star Trek: The Fall: The Crimson Shadow
Cardassia Prime is home to a prideful people who, for centuries, forged alliances with those they believed would strengthen them and their place in the Alpha Quadrant, and expanded their empire at great cost to other worlds. For generations, dissenting voices were silenced by either fear or an early grave. When their wartime ally, the Dominion, suddenly turned on them, seeking to transform Cardassia into a tomb for every last member of their race, their old adversary—the United Federation of Planets— put an end to the carnage, and even now works to help rebuild Cardassia Prime.
To celebrate this alliance, the Castellan of the Cardassian Union is to welcome the Federation president to Cardassia Prime. As a symbol of this deepening friendship, the U.S.S. Enterprise-E is tasked to carry the Cardassian ambassador to the Federation back home. For his part, Ambassador Elim Garak is working with Captain Jean-Luc Picard to oversee the diplomatic reception that will commemorate the last of Starfleet’s personnel finally leaving the homeworld. However, there are malevolent forces at work, who even now strive to “restore Cardassia to its proper place and glory,” and are willing to do anything to achieve their goal….
This is the second in the five-book mini-series event, The Fall, and it is fantastic! This entire series so far (at the time of writing this, I’m reading the fourth book), has been some of the best Trek fiction I’ve read in YEARS!
Una McCormack is a master of books set on Cardassia. Despite Deep Space Nine being my favourite Star Trek series, I was never much of a lover of Cardassians or their world, but McCormack has consistently done an amazing job of making the planet very real and very appealing. She sucks you in and doesn’t let go.
This novel sizzles and crackles with tension — something that the entire series has done to date. With Garak becoming a politician after the end of the DS9 TV series, I was never quite sure how he fit into it all, and McCormack makes it very clear and very believable.
The Fall series has largely been about political upheaval — the first three books anyway — and that can often be very hard to write. Political upheaval, especially in science-fiction, is often planet-wide or even wider than that, and McCormack has shown us a solid view of Cardassia and its struggles.
I realize this review has largely focussed on how effectively McCormack has written and not necessarily on the plot itself. The plot is top-notch, but I don’t want to give too much away as it seems all five The Fall books essentially run concurrently or at least in very close sequence, so to say something might be a bit too much detail. Suffice it to say that it was a thrilling read.
I’ve felt for the last long while that this Typhon Pact story line has been all over the place, but this very unified and very strong set of books has helped bolster the entire Typhon Pact thread and bring together a lot of the very random happenings over the past couple years. So, not only is this book amazing and The Fall series is amazing, but The Fall is retroactively making the entire Typhon Pact line that much better.
For any serious Star Trek fans, The Fall series is an absolute must-read, as it has some of the strongest Star Trek writers penning some of the most intricate and captivating books. Una McCormack’s The Crimson Shadow is a fine entry into the series.