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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry by [Woods, Olivia]
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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Fearful Symmetry Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Olivia Woods lives in New York. This is her first Star Trek novel.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

1

NINE MONTHS AGO

Far below the cracked ochre wasteland of Harkoum's surface, Iliana Ghemor turned away from the reading screen, her anguish and rage competing for dominance as she wedged the knuckles of her left fist between her teeth. She savored the sensation of her skin breaking against the pressure, the metallic taste of her blood mingling with the salty tears that flowed freely down the cheeks of Kira Nerys.

Her cheeks.

Dead, she thought as her eyes traveled tremulously back to the shatterframe monitor atop her desk. They're all dead. And they've been dead for years. Her mother, her father, Entek, the Obsidian Order itself...And now, if this newest intel from her spies was to be believed, even Gul Dukat was gone -- consumed in Bajor's Fire Caves during an arcane confrontation with the Emissary, a battle that had evidently claimed them both.

In truth, she'd half expected this. From the moment she'd learned the full scope of the Dominion War and the attempted genocide on Cardassia that had marked its end, Iliana had accepted the very real possibility that all the people she'd known in her old life were among the nearly one billion slain. But instead, after scouring the files of Dukat's personal database -- copied from his secret safe house beneath the lunar prison on Letau -- she learned that they'd met far different fates.

Her mother had been first. Less than a year after Iliana had departed Cardassia for her covert mission to Bajor, Kaleen Ghemor had fallen into a despair from which she had never recovered. She resigned from the judiciary, withdrew from the world, and eventually became gravely ill following a prolonged struggle with a crippling depression. She finally expired in a hospital room seven years after she'd last seen Iliana.

Corbin Entek met his end three years later, after he'd become one of the highest-ranking strategists of the Obsidian Order, and during a predictably convoluted plot to expose her father's covert involvement with a growing dissident movement on Cardassia. That the eroding certainty of her father's political beliefs had eventually led him to become one of the movement's leaders was a revelation, but it was as nothing compared to the shock of learning that Entek's scheme had involved manipulating Tekeny Ghemor with the promise of restoring his long-lost daughter to him, using a surgically altered Kira Nerys -- the other Kira Nerys -- to convince him that she had finally returned from her assignment on Bajor.

That her old mentor -- and the architect of her metamorphosis -- had chosen to defile her memory in order to achieve his ends came as little surprise. Entek had done a poor job of concealing his true interest in Iliana during her tutelage, and the things she had heard Dukat say to him at Elemspur on the day of her memory transference left little doubt that Entek had manipulated her from the start, and that his frustrated obsession with her was directly responsible for the course her life had subsequently taken. Fittingly, the farce he had perpetrated against her father had been Corbin's final undoing, though it had thrust Tekeny into exile and had allowed the other Kira to survive unscathed.

The final insult, however, had come two years later, at the time of her father's death of Yarim Fel syndrome aboard Deep Space 9. The bond that Entek's plan had created between Tekeny and Kira had endured right up until Tekeny Ghemor drew his last breath. He had sought to spend his last days in Kira's company, even sharing with her the final, supremely intimate rite of shri'tal! Had he known that Kira shared responsibility for killing the love of Iliana's life? Was it really possible that he had given up any hope of ever finding his real daughter, and had turned to the creature Iliana had been sent to replace in some pathetic need for a surrogate, just so that he wouldn't have to die alone?

They gave up on me. All of them.

It had been no less devastating to learn about the deaths of her Bajoran loved ones. Thanks to the memories of Kira Nerys, Iliana recalled the mortal wound Cardassian soldiers had inflicted upon Kira's father, Taban. But Kira's mother, Meru, had apparently lived for years as Dukat's concubine, long after her daughter had thought she'd died of malnutrition in the refugee camps of Singha. Dead too were Kira's brothers, Pohl and Reon.

Most of Kira's resistance cell -- the Shakaar -- were gone as well. Some had fallen during the Occupation, like Dakahna Vaas, whose loss had been so painful to Kira that it drove her into a self-destructive spiral from which she had only barely escaped; others had been murdered in recent years by a vengeful Cardassian who'd survived Kira's bombing of Gul Pirak's compound on Bajor -- the same bombing that had killed Iliana's beloved Ataan Rhukal. Ataan's death had driven Iliana to the Obsidian Order in her need to exact justice -- and there she had drawn first blood by killing one of the Order's captured terrorists, Dakahna Vaas.

Ataan and Vaas. She remembered loving them both. She remembered killing them both. And the terrible symmetry of those memories often seemed too intolerable to contemplate.

And now to learn that Dukat, too, was dead...

She would have been the first to admit the source of the new information was dubious -- if she had lacked Kira's appreciation of Bajoran metaphysics.

The report, filed by members of the Vedek Assembly and now glowing out from her desktop screen, told of an account given by the wife of the Emissary. This Kasidy Yates claimed to have experienced her husband in the aftermath of his final encounter with Dukat, and that he had told her that the gul was lost forever to the very entities he had tried to unleash -- the Pah-wraiths. From a Cardassian perspective, it was utter nonsense.

But from the perspective of a devout Bajoran, it was an entirely logical and fitting end to the life of the planet's most universally hated enemy. Adding to that the information she'd gleaned from Dukat's own files on Bajoran mysticism and the many inexplicable events of the last eight years, and Iliana could well believe that the inscrutable alien beings who resided within the Bajoran wormhole had spun a complex web that had ensnared many lives, including that of Skrain Dukat.

And perhaps even her own.

That's it, isn't it? she thought. Cardassia and Bajor, her life and Kira's, Tekeny and Taban, Kaleen and Meru, Shakaar and Corbin, Vaas and Ataan -- they were all somehow intertwined; entangled by invisible strands that formed the pattern of whatever obscure and intricate tapestry the Prophets were weaving behind their impenetrable curtain of timelessness.

And the thread of my life? Where does it lead now? How do I make myself whole again? Cardassia lies in ruins. Bajor has no place for me. Vengeance against Dukat is denied me. Entek is long dead. My mother succumbed to her own broken heart. And my father...My father's love was stolen from me forever.

By Kira --

"Nerys?"

Iliana started, but didn't turn toward the voice, hastily moving instead to close the file on her reader and wipe the tears from her face.

"What is it?" she asked sharply.

She sensed Shing-kur's hesitation. Ever since they'd broken out of Letau, together with several other inmates, the Kressari had been her devoted right hand, and she'd had the clearest understanding of everything that Iliana had endured these last two decades.

Shing-kur alone knew that Iliana was not the Bajoran she appeared to be. But she seemed to appreciate nonetheless Iliana's all-consuming need, after fifteen years of physical and psychological torture in Dukat's private dungeon, to cling to the identity of the Bajoran woman that she should have replaced -- the woman whose identity was the only one that had any meaning to her now. Consequently, during the months since their escape to Harkoum, Shing-kur had become acutely sensitive to Iliana's moods, and it had to be obvious to her now that she had intruded upon Iliana at a moment of acute vulnerability.

"Well?" Iliana demanded. "Out with it!"

The Kressari seemed to take the hint, though she gave no further sign that she thought anything was amiss. "There's been news out of Bajor."

Her interest piqued, Iliana turned her head halfway toward Shing-kur, so that the Kressari would see her profile. "What sort of news?"

Shing-kur's voice carried an air of possibility. "There's a Jem'Hadar soldier aboard Deep Space 9."

Harkoum proved to be everything Iliana could have hoped for, and more: Dukat's secret Dominion transporter on Letau had deposited her band of fugitives deep within the abysmal Grennokar Detention Center. This was one of many underground secret prison installations that the Obsidian Order had quietly maintained over the last century, until Cardassia finally abandoned the remote planet for good. Rumor had it that mummified corpses still resided in many of those forsaken facilities, and that the so-called enemies of the state who had been incarcerated here at the end of the Order's reign -- many of them having served as test subjects for the Order's medical research initiatives -- had simply been left to die in their locked subterranean cells. Iliana had tried to imagine what it must have been like for those poor souls, caged and starving, their ever-weakening screams for help and rescue going unheard until they had at last faded into eternal silence.

But if those rumors were true, then Grennokar was a notable exception to current Cardassian policy. The initial search that she and her cohorts had made of the facility showed considerable evidence of recent use, which appeared to have ended both suddenly and disastrously. Between the detention center's still-intact records, which had included copies of Dukat's personal files, it hadn't taken long to piece together what had happened here, or why Dukat had taken such an interest in this place that he had used the Dominion su...


Product Details

  • File Size: 1229 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books/Star Trek; 1st Pocket Books Pbk. Ed edition (July 24, 2008)
  • Publication Date: June 24, 2008
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0010SEOZS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #385,527 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin C. Jones on July 21, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
In my opinion, the negative reviews this book is getting are based solely on the fact that it didn't give people what they wanted. They expected Fearful Symmetry to continue the action of Warpath, to provide confrontation and lots of plot twists. I can see why they're disappointed, but I also think there's a ton of great stuff going on with this book. Keep an open mind, and you'll enjoy it.

Where Warpath was all about action and drama, Fearful Symmetry slows down and really lets the characters shine. Sisko's scene at the beginning of side 1 gives the purpose in a nutshell: to look at the possibilities and paths things might take. All of the characters get their screen time, even the minor ones. Olivia Woods has them all down pat, and does an excellent job of making you want to know what happens to them next. I'm sad that I have to wait another year for The Soul Key and The Never Ending Sacrifice (August and September 2009), but now I want to read them more than ever.

As for Iliana's story, yes, it's brutal. But it's not graphic...Woods doesn't get into detail for the brutal parts. What she does achieve, however, is to make Iliana Ghemor into a deep, sympathetic villain. I almost find myself rooting for her after reading her story. And the way the two sides of the flipbook intersect is brilliant. Just make sure you read side 1 first.

I would give the book five stars if it were longer. If Pocketbooks were serious about keeping these stories going, they should get them out more often. Otherwise, they're going to lose readers who are tired of waiting.
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The good - I really enjoyed the writing. I'm not familiar with Olivia Woods, but I thought she had a pretty good handle on the characters and the story flowed fairly well.

Part one followed up nicely on the events in Warpath, but as others have noted, the story is much too short. I wanted more.

Part two follows Iliana Ghemor's journey from artist to member of the Obsidian Order to Kira's replacement. This part of the book has a major hurdle to overcome, because as other reviewers have noted, most of us want more of the main story, not Iliana's origin. So it was hard to start this side without a negative attitude, but the more I got into the story, the more I enjoyed it. It's a good look at the cruelty of Dukat and why Iliana wasn't subsituted for Kira (although that is actually also answered in the first part, but explored in more detail here). It's also a good behind the scenes look at Cardassian policies and politics.

The Bad: It's been a long wait to only get 130 pages or so of the main story. And according to the psiphiboards, it will be a long wait until we get the follow up novels "The Soul Key" and "The Never-Ending Sacrifice," which won't come out until August and September 2009.

Overall: Short, but good, and a must read if you're a fan of the DS9 novels.
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(sigh) This book... this book... where to begin? Well, first of all, the reason I read it is that I'm working my way through all of the DS9 reboots to prep for the newest book this year. Even though it's obviously several years after this one was published, I'm leaving a review for a reason. I'm not sure how well the entire Ileana storyline has ever worked-- it's a fascinating idea, and *Second Skin* might very well have been the biggest example of a DS9 episode that left the most questions hanging. What really happened to Ileana Ghemor? How could we have never heard about her again? But like so many of those questions, this one does get answered in the books. Kind of.

The problem is the type of answer that it turns out to be. The entire storyline (through three books now, I think,) feels too much like a great idea that didn't have enough steam to back it up, like it's been stretched too far and there's still no end in sight. The other parts of the storyline have so much more promise (the nature and choices of Taran'atar, the Progenitor situation with the Dominion, etc.), but the Ileana story is the key to it all, and that story just is too thin to hold it all up. I wasn't bothered by the "double book" format as much as a lot of other readers were; my problem was that there wasn't enough content in the key to the plot to keep either side of the book going. I don't think this was the author's fault-- Olivia Woods could only work with what she'd been given.

And that's why the violence and sex in the second part of this book just didn't work, and why, I think, so many people have found it disturbing. It doesn't feel organic or justified by the situation. The reader feels that it was kind of thrown in out of desperation,. And... (okay, a little bit of a spoiler here...
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Years after Kira's surgical alteration by the Obsidian Order to resemble Iliana Ghemor, the implications of that mission resurface as Iliana is back, but there are two identities conflicting in her. Likewise, Kira's Mirror universe counterpart is dead thanks to Iliana, and the Mirror Iliana has crossed over to stop her. The undercover mission that Iliana was initiated, but something went tragically wrong. Something that only becomes apparent after reading Fearful Symmetry.

It was worth the wait and far too compelling at times to put down.
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