Ask any Star Trek: Deep Space Nine fan who their favorite character was on the television show and see what answer you get. Some will say Worf, others might say Quark or Odo, and still others might say O’Brien. But those that I know almost overwhelmingly say Elim Garak. And that, at least for me, was the major appeal of The Crimson Shadow by Una McCormack.
So who is Garak? Well, he is the son of the former head of the Obsidian Order (a sort of Cardassian gestapo) and a former operative of that same organization. Following the occupation of Bajor, he was sent into exile and forced to reside aboard the Federation controlled DS-9 space station in the Bajoran system. While there, Garak was couched in mystery and intrigue while acting as a “simple tailor” supplying the people of DS-9 with services including uniform alterations, as well as some services more suited to his role as a member of the Order. But, when the Dominion decided to adopt a scorched earth policy at the end of the Dominion War, Garak repatriated himself and took over the defense of Cardassia following the death of Damar rallying the cardassian people with his battle cry “For Cardassia!” While Cardassia may have turned her back on Garak, he never turned his back on Cardassia.
The events of The Crimson Shadow take place concurrently with the events of the first book of The Fall series (five books in all), Revelation and Dust. In that first installment, during a dedication ceremony of the newly Federation built Deep Space Nine, Federation president Nan Bacco is assassinated in front of the station’s personnel and visiting dignitaries from many worlds. Initially, it is thought that a Bajoran is responsible, but it is soon learned that this is not the case.
It is time for a contingent of Starfleet personnel to be evacuated after helping the Cardassians begin to rebuild their world. The USS Enterprise is ferrying Ambassador Garak back to Cardassia to attend the ceremonies for that event. Plans are derailed when a Bajoran Starfleet officer turns up murdered. An investigation ensues. Is this murder racially or politically motivated? Who is responsible? How does this tie in with the assassination of the Federation president? Many on Cardassia aren’t happy with the amenable relationship between with the Federation and would be more than happy to see that come to an end so that Cardassia can be, once again, raised to its former level of glory, but others realize that the alpha quadrant of the galaxy is becoming a much smaller place and good relations with the Federation is not only desireable, but quite necessary considering the aftermath of the Dominion War.
If you are looking for a lot of action, The Crimson Shadow is not the place to find it. No big battles and no explosions. What you will find is a stupendous story that goes deep into the political workings and maneuverings of the Cardassian government as they try to recover from a war that almost wiped out their entire civilization. Garak is the main focus of this novel and McCormack did an outstanding job of capturing everything that we have come to expect from that mysterious character; his love for his homeland, his ruthless pursuit of his agenda, his ability to get things done, and his incredible cutting wit.
It is interesting how this story is written. It never slows down, but at the same time it plods along through the story, and before the reader realizes it, the story is over leaving one wanting more, in a good way. McCormack's treatment is outstanding.
I highly recommend that fans of Deep Space Nine read The Crimson Shadow, but first you should read the first installment of the series, Revelation and Dust by David R. George III. Unfortunately, the reviews for Revelation and Dust are mixed with leanings toward the negative; but I thought it was quite good myself and urge readers to give it a chance and decide for yourself. My review for Revelation and Dust can be found HERE.
Well, there it is…