To be fair this is a rating of only one of the stories in the book. It is "Horn and Ivory", the conclusion of the DS9 Season 8 Relaunch book "Demons of Air and Darkness" (also book 4 of the Gateways septuplet).
I agree the marketing scheme of making dedicated readers buy the hardcover of this 7th book simply because it wraps up any (and every) one of the first 6 books is deceitful. Myself having read only the DS9 Gateway book as part of the relaunch, I was angered at the idea. Luckily, if you are reading this review, you no longer have to buy the hardcover, but can settle for the cheap paperback. Therefore, my review takes that into consideration.
I'll say that reading Book 4 and its conclusion in this book raised a few questions that I wonder as to whether or not they are solved/explained in the others Gateway books. I deem they probably are, and for that reason, perhaps buying this book simply for one book's conclusion rather than 6, is an incentive to go read the other books. Many have said the DS9 story is one of the best, and indeed I found it was excellent, but in time I may go back to read the other Gateway books. As it is, this is a review for "Horn and Ivory" by the marvelous deCandido.
At the conclusion of "Demons of Air and Darkness", Kira steps through a Gateway to be with what she believes are the Prophets. Where does it take her? Well of course it sends her back 30,000 years to a time of Bajor's past before the uniting of the world. At first, I did not realize that the entire sequel was only about Kira. By the time I had finished the short story, I was glad it was, because deCandido does the best job portraying Kira that I've read so far. You really start to understand her and feel what she feels. You get to understand Kira's nostalgia (of sorts) for the days of the Resistance, but more importantly you get to see her committed to being a good commander.
The plot. At first I was worried why we were in the old days, but slowly I got heavily involved into it and realized that where Kira had ended up had ties to her real life.
The book is about Kira rediscovering herself and understanding where she is in her life and coming to terms with what she's lost. At its base, the book asks: do you give up, or go on. The author certainly knows Kira well enough to answer the question for her, and I was glad watching her grow.
It was also wonderful getting to read about Bajor's fragile past before its unification and before the Prophets were worshipped by the majority of Bajor. Keith did an excellent job with this novel since to me it really didn't feel like a Trek novel or a DS9 novel, but more of a Medieval-type story with Kira thrust into it. Yet it works nicely somehow, and for that I give the book 4 stars. I couldn't give it 5 because though it does a good job, it deals only with Kira and none of the other DS9 crew. Only Garak's book, "A Stitch in Time" managed to pull off writing about one main DS9 character without becoming nostalgic for the other characters.
So there you have my brief review for what I consider to be Episode 6 of the DS9 Season 8 Relaunch novels. I read "Demons of Air and Darkness" in under two days, and immediately wanted to read the conclusion in this book. Thus my review is only for the DS9 Kira story, "Horn and Ivory" and not as a conclusion to the Gateway septuplet.
If you read "Demons of Air and Darkness" and tolerate or love Kira and want to know what happens to her at the end of that book, you'll want to read her conclusion. If you have not read "Demons of Air and Darkness", do not read "Horn and Ivory" as it does not stand well on its own (as it is not meant to!).