Obsidian Alliances is the second half of the new Mirror Universe duology, and it features three more novel-length stories.
The first of these is the Voyager story The Mirror-Scaled Serpent by Keith R.A. DeCandido. Chakotay is the Captain of a rebellion ship fighting the Alliance, and on the flight after one of his missions he picks up an alien he has never encountered before. Neelix presents him a story hard to believe, but when the rebells hear about the telepathic powers of his lover Kes, they begin to listen. After all she could be the key to success in a Quadrant where all known telepathic species were exterminated.
As usual Keith R.A. DeCandido delivers a well-written, well-thought-through piece. And as usual his Voyager story doesn’t take place in the Delta Quadrant – after the Voyager entry in The Brave and the Bold and his short story in Distant Shores this is his third Voyager adventure taking place far away from Voyager‘s usual playground. Some things were a bit predictable, for example I knew that Janeway would turn against Chakotay once it was known they were lovers, but that takes nothing away from the fact that this story features very strong character work and has a nice flow that keeps you in the story. A very good opener for the second volume.
The next novel is Cutting Ties, the New Frontier entry by Peter David. M’k’n’zy of Calhoun was always standing in the shadow of his older brother in his father’s estimate, so when the Danteri and their allies demand a hostage to secure Gr’zy’s cooperation after defeating the Xenexians and killing his warlord son, he sends M’k’n’zy with the Romulan Praetor without thinking long about it. That sets a future for Muck, as he is now known, into motion he would have never suspected.
This is another good story, but not as good as it could have been. It’s well-written and certainly will please most fans of the series, but I have one big problem with it: I don’t see that big a difference between Mirror-NF and normal NF. That’s especially true for the Calhoun character. At the beginning I had high hopes that we would see a different Mackenzie of Calhoun than the Captain in the normal series, who has become rather stale for my taste in the last volumes, but in the end it’s more or less the same old Mac we all know. Overall a missed chance to experiment a bit with the main character, who obviously has become some kind of holy cow for the author.
The book ends with the Deep Space Nine entry, Saturn’s Children, written by newcomer Sarah Shaw. Former Intendant Kira is now Regent Martok’s slave, but she wouldn’t be Kira if that was a permanent position. With a lot of patience and planning she is able to fight her way up again in the Alliance. On the other side of the conflict Smiley O’Brien has to search for a traitor and fight off attacks by his fellow rebel leaders, who have a dangerous plan.
Another good story. The two plots are only really interacting in the end. I personally preferred the O’Brien/Rebellion storyline over the Kira/Alliance storyline, but both parts were interesting in their own rights. Sarah Shaw shows a good hand for character work and I think she did an especially good job for “Smiley” O’Brien. Overall an interesting story to close the gap between the last Mirror Universe episode on DS9 and the Mirror Universe parts of the post-finale fiction.
Obsidian Alliances (by Keith R.A. DeCandido, Peter David, Sarah Shaw) was released by Pocket Books in March 2007.