The Badlands: Book Two is the second part in the two books collection by Susan Wright which focuses on that most intriguing of stellar bodies - The Badlands.
This novel is essentially two short stories. The first is set in 2371 and charts events just prior to Voyager’s transportation to the Delta quadrant by the Caretaker. We start with Chakotay and his Maquis crew as they set out to strike a critical blow against the Cardassian war machine. However their plans are ruined when their fleet of Maquis raiders is hit by a subspace shockwave consisting of tetryon neutrinos which the Maquis have come to know as "The Badlands curse". Chakotay’s ship is not the only one affected by the anomaly.
On its way to The Badlands, U.S.S Voyager has minor run in with the shockwave. They also respond to a distress signal from a Cardassian warship under the command of Gul Evek, which has been severely damaged by the shockwave. Janeway takes the Cardassian crew onboard Voyager so that they can receive medical attention as many of them have been severely irradiated by the tetryon radiation emanating from the anomaly. While aboard Voyager, Gul Evek commits suicide as he is dishonoured by his failure to apprehend Chakotay.
Determined to catch Chakotay herself, Janeway uses the coordinates supplied by Evek and ventures into the Badlands where the Maquis and Voyager consequentially have their encounter with the Caretaker.
The second story is set in 2373 just prior to the beginning of the Dominion War. This story focuses on Odo and his attempts to find the AQS which is the source of the ‘Badlands Anomaly’. It has been orbiting the Badlands for years since the destruction of the Romulan Warbird for which it was the power source. Odo has learnt that the AQS was responsible for the irradiation and subsequent death of a baby changeling, which was in his care for a short time.
Odo is determined to locate the AQS and remove it from the area so it will not threaten any other infant Changelings who innocently try and migrate through the area in the future. Captain Sisko and the crew readily agree to help him and they set out to neutralise the AQS.
However another power also has an interest in the AQS. A heavily armed Romulan scoutship under the command of Centurion Seylok and on orders from the Tal’shiar is en route to the Badlands. Seylok’s mission is to capture the AQS and use it to collapse the Bajoran wormhole thus preventing the Dominion from launching an invasion.
Meanwhile, oblivious to the intentions of the Romulan and Federation crews, Weyoun the cunning Vorta minion of the Founders is a heading for a meeting in the Badlands sector. A meeting with Gul Dukat of the Cardassian Union.
I found this book to be well written and very interesting. Although it is the second of a pair I did not find this novel difficult to understand at all. There is sufficient information supplied to allow this novel to be thoroughly enjoyable on its own. As a fan of the Maquis I enjoyed the background this book supplied on Chakotay and his crew. More than exciting. this book was interesting for the reason I have specified , the background it supplied. Susan Wright does a good job of filling in some of the blanks left by both series. I gave this book 4 out of 5 Stars.