Hold on to your seats, kiddies. It's going to be a rough one!
"Bloodletter", third in the DS9 novel series is a choppy ride from start to finish. Wehter it's totally destroying the credinility of the characters, drowning us in technobabble, or jumping from thought to thought with no real connectionm Jeter's attampt to delve into the mysteries of Kira Nerys fails abysmally. And that is a great tragedy.
The plot line is a strong idea. DS9's engineer, O'Brien, is attempting to install impulse buffers on all ships wishing to travel through the wormhole to the Gamma Quadrant in order to protect the inhabitants. Using a band of Bajor Redemptorists (religious fanatics) as microassemblers on engineering projects, his current customer is a Cardassian "exploration" vessel which Odo believes to actually be a war vesel hoping to establish soverignty over the exit point of the wormhole. Using Bashir's new Quarantine Module meant for medical use, Bashir and Kira are sent through the wormhole to establish Bajor's soverignty first. However, sabotage is afoot and Kira and Bashir are separated, leaving Bashir stuck in the workhole and Kira at the exit point with a maniacal arch-enemy stowed away on the QM, bent at destroying Kira at all costs.
From point one of the novel, all the characters we know and love on DS9 are painted as less than stellar people. I'm not above their being painted as realistic. I like them to have faults. But Jeter goes too far. O'Brien has fits of temper to where he enjoys destroying other people's property; Odo actually arrests O'Brien (both of which i believe - are just for show - but if this is the case, it's poorly established); Bashir is hot for ANYTHING with two x chromosomes and hits on them multiple times within pages of each other; and Kira is displayed as a woman scorned, with no regard for her superiors or her own people. I found myself hating these characters within 20 pages.
The first several chapters immerse us in severe technobabble about impulse engines, engineering and the QM. As someone who is lucky she can boot up her own computer or turn on the DVD player, this comes very hard to handle. My attention span was next to nil in these expository chapters...and then I was lost again when DS9 was ploting how to contact Kira in the Gamma Quadrant once they established she was there. I understand the need for some technojargon. After all, this is science fiction. However, Jeter needs to remember that not all of us are as gifted at understanding it as others and needs to explain things a little more clearly so that we have a CLUE as to what's being discussed and done.
Perhaps the most confusing thing about this book is how it jumps rapidly from one idea to another. It takes far too long to make connections between how the plot lines fit together. In most ST novels, there are 2 plot lines with no connection. One is the main storyline while the other is a human interest line completely unrelated. Not so in "Bloodletter." The two plot lines are woven together quite early so that you are aware that they were always connected. You would think this would bring unity. However, all it really does is force you to think way too much. The reader spends more time with the book closed, thumb marking the current page, trying to retrace their steps through what they've just read and make connections. I enjoy puzzles as much as the next person...but not ones which give me fuzzy logic and migraines.
One positive, besides a credible plotliine, was the character Horen Rygis, Kira's adversary. As leader of the Bajor Redemptorists, he was completely fire and brimstone. His cult-leader status was a terrific portrayal of his predecessors of modern-day Earth, preaching baptisms of fire and purification through bloodletting. (Hence, the title.) Like many cults, technical knowledge is at a premium in order to survice and worm their way into top notch positions so as to do the most damage. Like Roy in "Blade Runner", he is the candle who burns so very, very bright that he extinguishes long before he can accomplish much of what he could.
Sad to say, bit there were moments when I wished Horen Rygis WOULD eliminate Kira and we would be rid of this "thing" that had been dropped in her place. However, as is typical, order is restored, the inhabitants of the wormhole allow for Kira and Bashir to be restored to DS9, and the Cardassians are thwarted once again.
Author: K.W. Jeter
Review by: CL6 Sorsha