Review: Mirror Georgiou Goes From Augustus To Agent In ‘Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing’

Star Trek: Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing
Written by: John Jackson Miller
Published by: Pocket Books
Available as: Paperback (399 pages), ebook, and audiobook

“Stages of grief,” Cornwell replied… “It was an old psychological construct. More of an aid to understanding than an actual progression.”
Georgiou leaned back in her chair. “We have such a model too – for coping with a loss of status.”
Cornwell raised an eyebrow. “This should be good.”
Georgiou reeled them off. “Defiance. Murder. Plundering. Destruction. And my favorite: Vengeance.”

What’s an emperor without an empire to do?

What would it be like to be the emperor of an entire galaxy, only to have that all taken away, and then find yourself alone in an unfamiliar place? John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing takes us inside the story and mind of Her most Imperial Majesty, Mother of the Fatherland, Overlord of Vulcan, Dominus of Qo’noS, Regina Andor, Philippa Georgiou Augustus Iaponius Centarius, the character played by Michelle Yeoh on Star Trek: Discovery, and reportedly soon to be the central character in a forthcoming Section 31 series. Ruthless, amoral, with a boundless desire for power, Emperor Georgiou is trapped in the Prime Universe with no way home, and in the time between Seasons 1 and 2 of Star Trek: Discovery, she’s recruited to serve Section 31.

The people she recognizes have lived different lives from the ones she remembers. Some of them are people who had served her in her native Mirror Universe, but here have power over her. Some she had killed back home. History is upside down. All that she has left is her cunning, and her unshakable conviction that she is the Alpha predator, whatever the universe.

The Starship U.S.S. Farragut has had a terrifying encounter with an incomprehensible alien cloudlike life form that has left half the crew dead, including the Captain (à la TOS’ “Obsession”). At the direction of Section 31’s Leland and Starfleet’s Admiral Cornwell, Georgiou must team up with gymnast-turned-researcher Emony Dax and frequently incarcerated Starfleet washout Sean Finnegan to backtrack the cloud-alien to its source and try to eliminate the threat. Of course, Georgiou has her own agenda—the agenda she always has—to use whatever means at her disposal to regain her rightful power and rule.

The psyche of the Mirror Universe has always been a hard one to comprehend: How could a culture based on ruthless self-advancement ever develop a stable, forward-moving society? This book helps (a bit) to answer that question, giving us glimpses into Emperor Georgiou’s thinking throughout. Mirror Georgiou’s hysterically acerbic one-liners fill the book from cover to cover. You will cackle as a prison warden works his way through the Emperor’s resume, as the Emperor finds new and impressive ways to insult Leland, and as the Emperor attempts to choose an innocent-sounding alias to travel under.

And when Georgiou is paired with and pitted against the wide-eyed optimistic Emony Dax, sparks fly. Slow-witted prankster-brawler Sean Finnegan (seen in canonical Trek only in TOS’s “Shore Leave” and as an alternate reality version in Star Trek Beyond) is a hoot.

Die Standing dips into questions about the history of the Trill, inconsistencies in the worldview of the Federation, and even the origins and usage of the term déja vu. In addition, Miller’s novel gives us several fascinatingly creative alien races and cultures, big, sprawling battle scenes, and more double-dealing than you can shake a stick at. If it all takes way too long to really start rolling, at least once it does start rolling, it rolls in really fun ways, and to really fun places.

The bottom line: Die Standing has a long ramp-up, but the characterizations are amusing and the alien cultures you meet are absorbingly detailed. Best of all is that it fleshes out Mirror Georgiou herself, a character that so far on TV has seemed quite one-dimensional. I liked Miller’s The Enterprise War far better, but Die Standing is a great read as well.

Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing is available now

John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Discovery: Die Standing was released on July 14th. You can pick it up now at Amazon in Paperback ($13.73) and e-book ($10.67).


Listen to a sample of the audiobook

Die Standing is also available as an audiobook on Audiobook CD ($25.99). There is also a digital audiobook available at Audible.

More recent and upcoming Star Trek fiction

On August 11th, Pocket Books released David Mack’s  More Beautiful Than Death, the second Kelvin universe novel from the set they pulled from the schedule in 2009. Look for a review of that soon. And on October 6 Titan is releasing the Autobiography of Kathryn Janeway, by Una McCormack.


Keep up with all the Star Trek books news, previews and reviews at

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I wonder if Kirk will make an appearance.

Kirk is in this book for like one page when Dax is on the USS Farragut

At first glance of the title, I though the book was in German.

Me too. But then I realized it would read “Das Standing” (“The Stan Thing”) ;)

I really loved this book! John Jackson Miller’s Trek books have all been excellent, but this one stood out for me. He perfectly captured the voice of both versions of Phillipa Georgiou, so much so that I absolutely heard Michelle Yeoh’s performance in my head. There are many neat connections to Star Trek history, which gave me a wonderful excuse to go back and watch some episodes that were referenced in the book. (Like I ever need an excuse!) It’s a great read all around, but especially worth it for the two very minor pre-existing characters who are substantially fleshed out as real people in this novel. Highly recommended!

I’d read a Discovery novel if someone paid me to do so, but even then I wouldn’t be happy about it.

Thanks for sharing…

I will rarely, if ever, pass up an opportunity to dump on Discovery.

I clicked on the e-book link, and it took me to a different Trek book on Amazon. Not that I’m complaining. I think I’ll check out that book too.

fixed, sorry. Here is ebook link

I don’t read a lot of Trek novels anymore. That said, and as someone who has generally enjoyed Discovery, I believe one of the major misfires of season 1 was spending so much time in the mirror universe – so there’s little incentive here to read something that reinforces that mirror Georgio isn’t adjusting, but just biding her time.

As it’s apparently become pretty easy to jump back and forth between mirror and prime universes, I’ve little doubt she’ll find her way home eventually….