Crimson Shadow

Star Trek the Fall: Crimson Shadow
© 2013 Una McCormack
352 pages

After ten years of reconstruction, the Federation is preparing to leave Cardassia. Not all the locals gathering outside are there to wish its engineers and social workers a fare-thee-well, however. A new political movement representing the old Cardassia is growing in strength, and styles itself “Cardassia First”. Infiltrating civil institutions and orchestrating riots,  it promises to field a candidate against the Federation-friendly administration and disrupt Cardassia’s growing relationship with the Federation and its allies.  Worse yet, a high-profile political assassination puts both powers on the edge of falling away from one another.   Assassinations and unruly mobs, with the fate of Cardassia hanging in the balance — this looks like a job for….Garak, Intergalactic Man of Mystery!

No longer the mere mysterious spy-turned-tailor of Deep Space Nine, Garak is Cardassia’s ambassador to Earth, having previously served in other Reconstruction governments.The Garak of Crimson Shadow has grown much from the Garak of the television show, who was already complex.  Garak’s past association with an organization so ominous that it chills Cardassian spines fifteen years after its demise has left him with blood on his hands that cannot be rubbed out. His conscience was once becalmed by the thought that he was acting for the good for Cardassia, in the service of the State, but witnessing nearly a trillion deaths and the obliteration of so much of what he loved has broken Garak’s faith. Now,  ever wrestling with his conscience, he hopes to help Cardassia find a new way — one that includes more engagement with the rest of the Quadrant —  and gropes for how to fight monsters without again becoming a monster himself.   Garak hasn’t hung up his cloak and dagger for good, though, as he proves to have a few tricks up his sleeve that don’t involve discretely killing someone. This quandry is also present in the stories of several police officers, who are trying to establish and protect their Constabulary’s integrity after past versions of it were co-opted by the State to hurt the people.  One of the few non-Cardassian characters here is Jean Luc Picard, who with Garak has to somehow mitigate the damage that each man’s civil superiors threatens to wreack in the wake of both books’ events.
I enjoyed The Crimson Shadow enormously, as I’m partial to Cardassian stories and especially to Garak.  While there’s still a little obviousness in how McCormack portrays her villains, she did introduce an interesting idea about the origin of the Obsidian Order. Her portrayal of Garak, as he and his castellan (president) try to navigate away  from the sirens that might destroy them, even as they attract so many citizens,  more than makes up for the mustache-twirling antagonists.  As a bonus, McCormack indirectly quoted CS Lewis, when she makes Garak observe that people are much more dangerous when their tyranny is effected with sincere intentions to help others.  A comparative Lewis quote is here.

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11 Responses to Crimson Shadow

  1. CyberKitten says:

    Always had a sneaking fondness for Garak…. [grin]Merry Christmas for tomorrow BTW!

  2. Stephen says:

    Merry Christmas! Still having snow?(Ours is long gone, of course..I'm presently in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Ah, the sunny south…)

  3. Mudpuddle says:

    and Merry Xmas to you and yours! i liked Garak until i found out that he was such a mass murderer; or responsible in part for that… organizations like the Obsidian Order are rather off-putting… My favorites were Odo and that Bajoran lady whose name escapes me… and Quark, of course; i wonder what happened after Sisko and that bad guy Cardassian fell over the edge inside the volcano place… that was the last episode i saw… here the temp is 30, freezing rain and the streets covered with ice… no bike riding today… although i guess some do it with studded bike tires; but not around here…

  4. CyberKitten says:

    We had a tiny amount on snow a week or so ago but nothing since. We're expecting a low of 48F tonight and a high of 52F tomorrow so no snow for some time I think! Rain though…. always plenty of rain….

  5. Stephen says:

    Garak wasn't a mass murderer…judging by “A Stich in Time”, most of his dirty work involved tidy assassinations. Now Dukat is most likely guilty of that, if not directly then by the men under his command. He was definitely a malevolent character, but self-deluded in that while he thought he was doing what was best for Cardassia (and Bajor, in his mind), his actions were almost always self-serving. Kira is the Bajoran woman, and she's my other contender for favorite DS9 character. Bashir used to hold the title ,but Kira grew on me fairly quickly.

  6. Stephen says:

    Ah, we'll be colder than you, then! The temperature has been falling all day, and the wind chill is expected to be below freezing tomorrow. My grandmother keeps her house toasty warm, though. 🙂 And I'll have ham to keep the interior furnace going..

  7. Brian Joseph says:

    This sounds great. I always wondered about the aftermath of The Domination War. I also really like Garak. Interesting discussion of his character in your comments section. I will be rewatching the relevant episodes over the next year or so.

  8. Stephen says:

    I haven't read about the immediate aftermath, but from references in other books I know that the Dominion closed its borders, and that the Federation sent the Defiant on a general exploratory jaunt in the “Mission: Gamma” series. Bajor was accepted into the Federation in “Unity”, and then the Borg War stuff took over Treklit for a while until Destiny. There's other series I haven't kept up with, like NEw Frontier. I never had an interest in those, I think because several of the characters were really alien and used odd pronouns that used to confuse me. It's been fifteen years since I even TRIED a New Frontier novel, though, and they were unique in that they introduced and expanded original characters instead of using the show's established ones.

  9. James says:

    I'm not familiar with this author or series, but you got my attention with the reference to C. S. Lewis. I was entranced by his Space Trilogy many years ago.

  10. Mudpuddle says:

    As you can no doubt tell, my memory is, surprisingly, not too hot… tx for the revision…

  11. Stephen says:

    There's not quite as much philosophy here, but if you like murder mysteries turned political dramas…

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