He's done it again. I'm convinced that Peter David has sold his soul to the devil (just call him Faustus II) in order to achieve another literary success. In the second volume of the DS9 novel series, David weaves a tale of deception, betrayal and murder. Not nearly as intricate as Agatha Christie, not as crerbral as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, "The Seige" still manages to entertain long enough to keep us reading.
A serial killer has been unleashed aboard DS9, his victims random, his motive unknown. He is introduced to us immediately in the preface - we even know who he is and where he is before he strikes - but we continue to read on because we hope to discover his motivation as well as help Odo uncover the mystery of himself. Yep....the murderer is a species of shapeshifter.
Mixed into this intriguing conundrum is the appearance of two subplots. The first is a profitable venture between Quark abd a past business rivalry, Glav. Years ago, Quark undercut his rival in a business deal of decent proportions. Without notice, Glav appears at Quark's - but not to seek revenge as Quark first fears. Seems that beating Glav to the deal was the best thing Quark could have done because shortly thereafter Glav superceded even his own wildest dreams when a pile of rock turned out to be rich in ore. To thank Quark for his machinations, he suggests that the two Ferengi team up to buy DS9 from the Federation.
Further problems are raised when the wormhole begins to suffer subspace compression. This is discovered when a Borg ship tries to enter from the Gamma Quadrant end and is blown to bits. This means that no one may go in or out of the wormhole until the compression is complete...and it also means that DS9 becomes a temporary refuge for all travelers, including five religious missionaries spreading the word of K'olkr. When one of their team is the first victim of the killer, religious war threatens to break out both on board DS9 and from the skies around it.
What I like most about this novel is the depth in which it focuses on one central character - in this case, Odo. Having always been a fan of Rene Auberjonois since his "Benson" days, as Clayton, I'm thrilled to have a chance to explore his character further. Due to limited television budgets, a prose format allows us to experience far more of what Odo's species is capable of. And incapable of. We can sympathize far greater with this written Odo because we "see" into his psyche rather than merely feel the cold frosty personaliry portrayed on The Box. David allows us to feel as if we ARE Odo on his never-ending quest to answer the question, "Who am I?" Afterall, we all ask this question on this path of life, and we're not even the only one of our kind.
As usual, my complaint is the pat ending. I kept thinking to myself, "How is the crew going to catch this thing without breaking one of the 'rules' about shapeshifting they've developed?" Stick to the rules they did. And in David's defense, I never saw the solution coming until it happened. Reflecting on the novel, it really WAS the only way to end it. And the solution is acceptable. However,the question I'm left with is would the Cardassians and the Edemians really be satisfied with it considering just moments before both were willing to wage interstellar war for the right to prosecute the killer? Everyone was just way too buddy-buddy/good job gang at the end for me.
As always with David, character development is at a premium. He really knows how to zero in on the important issues and leave the rest of the fluff where it rightfully belongs. "The Seige" presents us with an exceptional look into characters Odo, Bashir, and to some extent O'Brien, leaving other characters in the background unless really needed to punctuate a particular moment. The hand-to-hand combat scenes are written in a clear and concise format for easy visualization, and the internal struggles of the central characters are reduced to the essentials while giving us a full sense of the conflict. This is a definite must-read for DS9 fans.
Title: The Seige
Author: Peter David
Review by: CL6 Sorsha