Book Review: ‘The Crimson Shadow’ by Una McCormack

February 16, 2021 at 1:00 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Star Trek | Leave a comment
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The Crimson Shadow is the second book in the five book series The Fall which was the epic crossover event in 2013. It was written by Una McCormack and released in September of 2013.

I went into The Fall excited since I’ve heard my Star Trek Book friends rave about it. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Revelation and Dust, and therefore was nervous about The Crimson Shadow

My fears were unfounded, however, because this is one of the Best Star Trek books I’ve ever read!

This book breaks significantly with its predecessor in that it doesn’t really focus on a main character from the shows or even on one of the ships. Rather, it focuses on Elim Garak, the minor recurring character from Deep Space Nine who is now the Ambassador from the Cardassian Union to the Federation. While he may not be a main character from the shows, his story here is incredibly compelling and will make even strangers to the books endeared to him.

What Una McCormack does best is show politics and political thriller level action and do it all while making it understandable to the reader. Oftentimes I am lost with all the terms and languages and politics of aliens, but McCormack kept me up to speed and made me intrigued by the situation of Cardassia (which, with the exception of the Enterprise which is orbiting Cardassia, we never leave the planet in the book). 

McCormack pulls ideas and political situations from Western history and infuses them into her book in such a fantastic way that she doesn’t feel like she’s ripping off the events, but it’s obvious where her influences were. She pulled a lot from the Cold War relations between America and the Russians, but she also pulled from Middle Eastern politics as well. It was refreshing and kept me on my toes.

McCormack also made me empathize with the villains of the book, even though they actually aren’t really villains, but more protagonists. It is obvious what McCormack’s political bias is, but that doesn’t mean that she forces her worldview down the reader’s throat. In fact, the Cardassia First group actually feels like they are correct about some things, even though they are getting in the way of Garak and the Federation. Even though this book was written prior to the 2016 election, I believe that she was very prescient about events that would come.

Perhaps the book’s most surprising strength is its portrayal of redemption. Throughout the show Deep Space Nine, Dr. Julian Bashir is trying to get Garak to forgive himself for his sins and to get him to accept redemption. It is difficult, but in the show Garak changes a lot. Even in this book, Garak still struggles with his past, and his political decisions made me so excited that there were times I pumped my fist in the air with excitement. I often laugh at jokes or stifle tears at sad moments, but it’s rare that I’m cheering for a character and have a physical response.

There were a few moments that I called, but there were even more moments that I was surprised at. Una McCormack does a masterful job of laying out the elements for the mystery and then doing enough work to pay off those elements while still surprising the reader.

This book, while tying into the events of the fall, really doesn’t feel like a direct sequel (especially since most of the book overlaps with the events of the first book), but it makes me super excited for the next book and makes me jealous that I cannot start it yet. I even want to go back and watch more Deep Space Nine (my least favorite Star Trek show!). That’s exactly what a media tie-in book should do. Make me excited for the overall property, and want to keep reading.

Overall, I loved this book and think it is one of the best Star Trek books I’ve ever read. Definitely in my top three, perhaps top two. Utterly fantastic job. The Crimson Shadow gets a five out of five from me. Well done McCormack. 

My next review will be A Ceremony of Losses, book three in “The Fall” series.

Reviewed By: Jonathan Koan for Roqoo Depot.

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