Book Review: Revenant (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) by Alex White

Jadzia and Kira in profile on the novel cover for revenantFrom the Publisher: An all-new novel based on the landmark TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine from the acclaimed author of A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe!

Jadzia Dax has been a friend to Etom Prit, the Trill Trade Commissioner, over two lifetimes. When Etom visits Deep Space Nine with the request to rein in his wayward granddaughter Nemi, Dax can hardly say no. It seems like an easy assignment: visit a resort casino while on shore leave, and then bring her old friend Nemi home. But upon arrival, Dax finds Nemi has changed over the years in terrifying ways…and the pursuit of the truth will plunge Dax headlong into a century’s worth of secrets and lies!

Nemi Prit, Etom’s granddaughter and Jadzia’s chosen sister, applied for a symbiont and got rejected twice. Once a bright, spunky kid who inspired Jadzia with her optimism, she is now a jaded gambler and part of a sinister secret society that calls themselves Kael’tach, “The Elevated”. While trying to figure out how Nemi changed so much and why the Symbiosis Commission failed her, Dax runs into her own unresolved issues with the Trill Joining authorities: Curzon failing Jadzia due to personal bias (DS9 s03e29 “Facets”) and the erasure of former host Joran from the Dax symbiont’s memories (s03e04 “Equilibrium”). Joran appears to Jadzia in visions, warning her of danger, but can he be trusted? Why did he really commit the murders that led to his consciousness being erased? And what else is the Commission hiding? Dax is determined to find out.

If you’re a Trill fan, I recommend this book. Alex White’s Dax is pitch-perfect, with the same zest for life that makes her so much fun to watch, as well as a joined Trill’s unique perspective on identity and gender:

“The right dress could stun a Dax—albeit for different reasons. Emony would come alive thinking of the way it flowed. Curzon would see a woman wearing a garment like that as a rival, a romantic interest, or both. For Jadzia, it was the way the clothes made her feel. (…) In a scrape, Dax was unstoppable with a Klingon bat’leth. In this arena of cards and dice, the dress would provide her a lethal edge.”

The worldbuilding is equally on point, placing Jadzia, the Prit family and previous hosts of Dax in the context of the society that shaped them. White makes the political feel personal as they show the toll the Joining system takes, both for success stories like Jadzia and for those who don’t measure up to the Commission’s standards. The spiritual aspect of Joining is also explored with the Rite of Emergence, in which the current host can speak to the consciousness of a previous host, or the morden’oct (“Death House”) in which they can experience their predecessor’s death.  Jadzia can not only research the history of her homeworld, she can live it, even if it involves Audrid distracting her with wry remarks while they’re breaking into a library. Dax’s relationship with the past would make any academic jealous.

Speaking of relationships, we also get to see Dax’s friendship with Kira (who’s only half joking when she swears that she’d hide a dead body for her friend) and Bashir (who is “maddeningly observant” about Dax’s health), as well as early hints of her attraction to Worf. She finds him “cute, if a little stern” and admires his combat skills, but it’s his quiet compassion when she’s upset that wins her over. “We live on for the ones we care for,” he tells her, as they share their conflicted histories with Trill and Qo’noS, “Even when we cannot be near them.”

This book is dedicated twice: once to the memory of Lisa Banes, a DS9 actress who played a Trill Symbiosis Commission doctor and who passed away in 2021, and once to “anyone who needs to be believed”. This is a story about how vulnerable people fall through the cracks of a medical system that cares more about status than service. As such, it will resonate with a lot of readers who, like the characters, need to be believed.

Revenant was published by Gallery Books on December 21, 2021 with an MSRP of $16.00 US for the paperback edition. It is available online, or at your local retailer.

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