Wednesday, January 11, 2023

[Review]—The Dominion War: Behind Enemy Lines (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

Growing up in a rural midwestern town in the 1990s, I didn't have access to a bookstore other than the local Walmart stores and a second-hand shop; unless my parents drove me to a Barnes & Noble in the city. Even though I wasn't interested in Star Trek tie-in novels at the time, I would pick them up and skim them whenever I came across any. I don't recall ever coming across the Dominion War novels. When these books came out in 1998, my interest in all things Star Trek had already started to wane, but I was still watching Deep Space Nine and would have bought the books if I had seen them.

The Next Generation is the focus of The Dominion War: Book One written by John Vornholt. It's set sometime after the Deep Space Nine episode "Call to Arms," in which the Cardassians took control of DS9 (Terok Nor), and an all-out war between the Federation/Klingons and the Dominion/Cardassians broke out. The book is titled "Behind Enemy Lines" on the inside title page. Book One and Book Three (titled "Tunnel Through the Stars") explain what the crew of the Enterprise-E was up to throughout the Dominion War and before the film Star Trek: Insurrection.

While patrolling the Cardassian border, the crew of the Enterprise-E encounters Ro Laren, a former Bajoran officer who defected from Starfleet to join the rebel Maquis. Ro Laren was an ensign on the Enterprise-D when she left Starfleet to join the revolutionary Maquis. The Cardassians and Dominions have been unable to bring in Jem'Hadar reinforcements because they cannot figure out how to remove the self-replicating mines surrounding the Bajoran wormhole. Ro brings news that the Dominion is creating an artificial wormhole that will allow the Jem'Hardar to enter the Alpha Quadrant. Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Lieutenant-Commander (and Chief Engineer of the Enterprise) Geordi La Forge, disguised as Bajorans, go with Ro and her crew onboard the Bajoran transport Orb of Peace in an attempt to learn the location of the artificial wormhole and destroy it at any costs.  

Sam Lavelle and Turik, two characters from the TNG episode "Lower Decks," also appear. They were aboard the USS Aizawa when Dominion warships assaulted their ship. Along with other crew members, they were taken prisoner and sent to an internment camp in the Badlands. Then Sam is given the choice of joining the Dominion by helping to build the artificial wormhole.

"Behind Enemy Lines" is an interesting start to a two-part story (the conclusion appears in the third book) that finally reveals what the crew of the Enterprise-E was doing during the Dominion War—and I'm mildly dissatisfied. The Dominion's artificial wormhole is a creative idea that would have made for a compelling plot in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. It was wonderful to see Ro, Sam, and Turik again. My main gripe is that Picard acts and sounds nothing like the character; in fact, the dialogue would fit more with Sisko. Then there's the Data shuttlecraft subplot, which is tedious and goes nowhere. ╌★★★✰✰

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