In the fall, Pocket Books wrapped up the Star Trek Lit-verse series of books set after Star Trek: Nemesis with the Coda trilogy, but that doesn’t mean they’re done with telling stories with TNG-era characters; last July’s Star Trek: The Next Generation: Shadows Have Offended was set during the events of the TNG series. And in December, they wrapped up 2021 with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Revenant, set during the events of the DS9 series. Like Shadows Have Offended, Revenant comes from a writer new to Star Trek, bringing a fresh voice to the franchise.
Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Revenant
Written by Alex White
Published by Simon & Schuster in paperback, ebook, and audiobook
“What does it say?” Kira asked.
“It’s a warning,” Dax replied. “Basically, ‘No one comes down here. If you keep going, you’re on your own.”
“Anyone not joined may be subject to lethal force.’”
Kira held up her hands. “I don’t enjoy being ‘subject to lethal force.’”
“First of all, you’re in my care. When we encounter a Guardian, they’ll understand that. Second, you are one of the four toughest people I know.”
Dax gave her a sincere look. “There were these three Klingons Curzon knew…”
“I’ll take it,” she said.
Alex White’s first Star Trek novel is a delightfully written Trekkian investigation tale that takes its cues from the horror genre as much as science fiction and delves deeply into Trill culture. Set during the first few episodes of DS9’s fourth season, the book explores Dax’s friendship with Kira Nerys and shows the first stirrings of attraction between Dax and the newly arrived Lt. Worf. That it does so in the context of a truly horrifying plot involving evil symbionts controlling dead host bodies and amid Trek’s most vibrant descriptions of settings, clothing, and food, makes Revenant a unique and fun entry into Trek’s literary corpus.
“Wow. You’re chipper,” Dax said. “I was worried I was calling too early.”
Kira raised a cup of steaming hot tea to her already painted lips. “I always look like this.”
… “Well, you’re making me look like a slacker,” Dax sighed.
Kira’s eyes crinkled with her smile. “I make everyone look like a slacker.”
Deep Space Nine’s friendship between Jadzia Dax and Kira Nerys was arguably the franchise’s first portrayal of a vivid friendship between two female characters. One of the delights of Revenant is that the book gives this friendship significant time to breathe, bringing the two characters together for the first half of the story before swapping out Kira for Worf and Bashir for the second half. That swap feels unnatural and forced, but it’s the only thing in this book that does. The author depicts all of these characters with an ease and a sense of joy and fun that is all the more remarkable because of the book’s darker elements.
Trek has dipped its toe into the horror genre from time to time, starting with the original Star Trek’s “Catspaw,” and just about every show has had at least one horror-tinged episode. But Revenant takes this even farther. The title actually gives away the premise—a “revenant” is a reanimated corpse—and this novel explores a question I don’t think Trek has ever asked: What if a Trill symbiont was evil, and wanted to dominate its host completely? The answers bring us deeply into the politics of the Trill Symbiosis Commission and face-to-face with a group of “Lost Lights,” symbionts without hosts, and a gruesome medical procedure called the “kael’tach,” all of which has a remarkable bearing on three of Dax’s previous hosts, and threatens her—and all of Trill society—in the present.
Dax and Kira must clandestinely root out the nefarious plots behind this horror and bring a mass murderer to justice before it’s too late.
“This isn’t as good as on DS9,” Kira said.
“You’d better not let the chief hear you – it would insult his honor.”
“If you didn’t call me here to blow something up, and you don’t want my opinions on Klingon food, what do you want?”
“Yet,” Dax said, holding up a utensil. “I don’t want those things, yet.”
While shunting Kira offstage midway through the book to bring in Worf (along with Bashir) to work with Dax feels a bit arbitrary, it does have a benefit. White takes the opportunity to show us Dax’s early attraction to Worf in a believable and exciting fashion. Worf is excellently portrayed here, and Bashir also has his moments to shine.
Throughout, White’s prose is vivid and descriptive, detailing the locations, clothing, and especially foods that Dax encounters with color and style that are rare to see in Trek prose.
Bottom line? Revenant is exciting, gruesome fun, and as long as horror elements are okay with you, it is well worth your time and latinum.
It is also available as an audiobook at Amazon and Audible. Listen to a sample below.
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