Library Computer: Review of “Deep Space Nine: The Soul Key”

This week the Library Computer looks deep into the heart of the Wormhole with Olivia Woods’ “The Soul Key”, just now arriving in stores. “Soul Key” brings closure to the current Deep Space Nine story-arc. Find out how well it pulls it off in our review below.



REVIEW: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Soul Key

Following the events of last year’s “Fearful Symmetry”, Olivia Woods returns the DS9 crew to action in two universes as “The Soul Key” begins bringing resolution to the events stretching back to Taran’atar’s attack on Kira and Ro in “Olympus Descending”.

“The Soul Key” is told in non-linear fashion, which is fitting, given the involvement of the Prophets in the climax of the story. The bulk of the tale revolves around a major offensive in the Mirror Universe headed up by the insane Illiana Ghemor of the DS9 universe. Ghemor, who is now passing herself off as Intendant Kira, believes that she has been called to be the Emissary of the Prophets in the Mirror Universe, Ben Sisko having already staked the claim at home. The problem is, the Prophets seem to have something else in mind – at least that’s what Ben Sisko has told Elias Vaughn. As a result, Vaughn accompanies Captain Kira across the dimensional divide and begins to explore the heart of a new possibility for Bajor and the Mirror Universe at the behest of a native of the alternate continuum – one Illiana Ghemor.

Confused? Well, when you are dealing with the Mirror Universe, nothing is as it appears to be on the surface, and Woods does an outstanding job of providing multiple sequences that involve some pretty deep consideration for the cast and the reader alike. The problem is, while the content is good, it isn’t consistently gripping. Some chapters are written with expansive and emphatic language, while others languish with unrealized potential.

In Woods’ book, only two particular areas managed to break the tedium:

  • Taran’atar’s arc through “The Soul Key” really kept my interest, and I can say that, right up until the very last sentence of his arc, I was completely satisfied with his development and disposition. (The jury will have to remain out on the last sentence until a follow-on story explains its ramifications.)

  • Vaughn’s encounters with Sisko (both in this book and “Fearful Symmetry”) are perfect in light of everything we come to learn as the current story unfolds.

Last summer, in my review of “Fearful Symmetry”, I wrote "Something is missing. The answers we do get are too pat, too quickly arrived at, and feel completely out of place given the extraordinary depths that previous Relaunch tales have gone to when fleshing out the story. The stories both fizzle out like a sparkler on the Fourth of July; nice while they lasted, but somehow unfulfilling at the end."

I feel exactly the same way about “The Soul Key”- something remains missing in this outing. Woods’ writing remains uneven; and, where books like “Troublesome Minds” and “Unity” felt like complete and compelling episodes, “The Soul Key” feels like a lackluster mid-season breakpoint, complete with a poorly placed epilogue that serves to introduce some new nasty-ism to the DS9 universe.

In summary, just as so much more could have been done with “Fearful Symmetry”, so too could “The Soul Key” have stood much more work – beginning with more meat on its bones. Sadly, a key turning point in DS9 history has been, over a thirteen month span, glossed over. With it now in the rear-view, a paraphrase of Seals and Croft comes to mind: “We will never pass this way again…”

"DS9: Soul Key" is shipping now


DeCandido and Swallow win Scribe Awards
The 3rd annual Scribe Awards presentation, from the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, was held at Comic-Con on Friday and two Trek tie-in writers picked up awards. Keith R.A. DeCandido picked up the Grandmaster Award, and James Swallow won Best Original Speculative Fiction for his 2008 book "Star Trek Terok Nor: Day of the Vipers." Congrats to James and Keith. [more on the Scribe Awards at ComicMix]

Up next – more DS9
Pocket Books keeps its Summer of Deep Space Nine with Una McCormack’s "Never Ending Sacrifice" coming out in August. The book gives you a glimpse into the Cardassian Empire after the Dominion War. 

"DS9: The Never-Ending Sacrifice" (available for pre-order)

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I love DS9 but I have been BORED to tears with the relauch books! For as much as I want to get into them (and I do, I really really do) I just cannot make my way through these books. Everything I’ve gotten my hands on by SD Perry has been awful in my opinion. Sorry to all the fans…

this is the worst cover I’ve ever seen :/

Um, yeah, I’d have to agree.

The never ending story.

Need to do with the books what JJ did for the screen.

You have to remember bad looking book covers rarely say anything about the quality of a book, And in reverse good book covers do not all way say the book is good. A bad book cover may be no different that the most beautiful lady in the world having a bad hair day, and the drier left all it’s lint on her clothing.

You are far better off judging a book by a few readers comments on the contents. I have not read the book yet so I’ll let the readers place judgement on the contents.

Just remember Some Asimov and Bradbury book had poor covers also, but the book contents were either great or average.

Spockish, I don’t judge the content of the book because it’s cover.

Just my 2 cent on the cover – only ;)

@ 6, do you mean to say “dont judge a book by it’s cover” :)

On the subject of book cover art — not DS9, but it is sci-fi related, and pretty funny:

I’ve tried a few DS9 relaunch books, but thus far, they have done nothing for me. Also, I’m very tired of them banging on about the Mirror Universe. I really don’t care – do something that isn’t “OMG EVIL VERSIONS OF US”. It has been done enough in the series in my opinion.

I agree a hundred percent with Federali Aundy Shane Zeranski .
‘Nuff said!

Ewww, Deep Space Nine.

I really enjoy the DS9 relaunch. “Fearful Symmetry” was the first one that left me unfulfilled–mostly because it seemed to have no real beginning, and no ending. It was just a stop-gap between “Warpath” and “The Soul Key”. (By the way, I loved “Warpath”–except for the blatant sequel setup at the end of it. Why can’t they just write books that continue the story, but are more able to just stand on their own?)

I look forward to “The Soul Key” still, but I hope the prognosis is better for “The Never-Ending Sacrifice”.

Oh, and #12–why are you even reading this article then? :P

Oh, and that cover IS pretty nasty.

I love the cover for “The Never-Ending Sacrifice”, though….

While it is true that it is important to never “judge a book by its cover,” anyone in sales will tell you that the cover is the first impression of a book and, to quote Allister Deccan from the British comedy “As Time Goes By”, the cover needs to say “pick me up and buy me.” The cover of “The Soul Key” does not whereas the cover of “The Never-Ending Sacrifice” does.

With that said, I’ve been extremely busy lately and have been unable to keep up with the books at all (I’m currently on the Destiny trilogy!). In short, I’ll get around to the new books as soon as I can. It’s a shame however, that the book did not get a better review. The premise of “The Never-Ending Sacrifice” sounds interesting and hopefully will get a better review. BTW, you can read an excerpt from “The Never-Ending Sacrifice” online at Simon & Shuster’s website.

Who reads this garbage?

If by “garbage” you mean Star Trek…man, did you pick the wrong site to say that on. If by “garbage” you mean DS9’s relaunch…well, I’m hoping that’s a rhetorical question. Obviously, those that read a relaunch of a show are those that liked the show in the first place. …And for the record, while I’m a bit behind in DS9 books (the last thing I read was Warpath when it came out, and I haven’t read even half of all the previous books), I’d have to say that I don’t consider the relaunch “garbage.” I do wish that Sisko would become a prominent character again, instead of DS9’s version of Obi-Wan in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

I loved the DS9 books up until Warpath, which was a severe disappointment, and I haven’t read Fearful Symmetry because the Mirror Universe bores me. Since Pocket seems to have decided to write off all the good things they developed over the last few years, I’ll just have to imagine my own storyline. *sigh*

That painting of the surface of Cardassia for “Never Ending Sacrifice” is awesome.

The DS9 Relaunch series is my favorite Trek series of books. They’re actually what got me to read other Trek novels. The continuity from the shows to the books is impressive. IMO, were it not for the DS9 post-series fiction, we most likely wouldn’t have the rich continuity post-series fiction of Enterprise / Next Generation – and now Voyager. The Mirror Universe storyline has only been featured in about 4 of the books, and most of that has not been front and center; it’s only in the last 2 books that it’s come to a head. It might seem like more than that because the story has been stretched out for so long though.

I think the Mirror Universe side of these Relaunch stories is just confusing, unless you have seen the DS9 Mirror Universe episodes. Which I haven’t.

And why is everyone bashin’ the cover? I think it looks kinda cool — If they had something other than the weirdly posed hand in the center. I like this cover a lot better than some other covers I’ve seen. My fave DS9 covers have probably been from “Dawn of the Eagles” in the Terok Nor series, and also “Hollow Men” cover. That one was pretty neat.

I might try this, once I get through the rest of the relaunch series… which I have yet to start; I was trying to hurry up and get through seasons six and seven of DS9 so I could get on with them! (Keep in mind I was seven when DS9 ENDED.) The Never-Ending Sacrifice reminds me of the cover to “The Good That Men Do”; same style.

Why are they even bothering with old timeline stuff? JJ Abrams movie wiped all that timeline out of continuity