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Review: ‘Pliable Truths’ by Dayton Ward (A Star Trek: The Next Generation Novel)

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The Cardassians have been oppressing the Bajorans for the past fifty years. Now they are suddenly withdrawing all presence on Bajor and returning all displaced Bajors to their homes. At least, that’s the official line presented in the latest Star Trek: The Next Generation novel. In fact, things are rather messy, with Cardassians not wanting to quietly withdraw and Bajorans wanting some not so quiet revenge. So the new Bajoran government has asked the Federation to act as mediators between the two groups during the transition. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is sent to be the negotiator, but his own recent traumatic experiences at the hands of the Cardassians may interfere with his impartiality. When even bigger secrets come to light, things get dangerous really fast. Picard and his crew rush to save as many lives as they can without derailing the peace talks, and risking even more in Pliable Truths by Dayton Ward.

[Note: While I am reviewing this novel independently and honestly, it should be noted that it has been provided to me by Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books for the purpose of this review. Warning: My review of Pliable Truths contains some spoilers!]

The Enterprise crew are on a peace mission in Pliable Truths

Whether it’s two thousand years in the past, five hundred years in the future, or current events, when an occupying government withdraws from an area it has been suppressing, it’s going to be a rough transition. The occupiers are going to be angry about giving up what they’ve come to see as “theirs”. The newly freed people will want revenge for all the injustices they’ve suffered. The power vacuum left by the retreating government will cause infighting. It’s just a mess. Often a neutral third-party government needs to come in to oversee the withdrawal, make sure that everyone stays safe, and help set up a new government. 

That’s exactly what’s going on in Pliable Truths. Ward gives us an inside view of how the politics of such a transaction works. And just like in real life, the truth of just how awful the Cardassians were is much bigger and much worse than anyone realizes at first. Because while Captain Picard is trying to negotiate a peaceful withdrawal of Cardassian interests from Bajor, the Cardassians are trying to destroy the evidence of war crimes they were committing on an entirely different planet. And of course, the “evidence” is thousands of innocent Bajorans. 

Luckily, the Bajorans on this planet that “doesn’t exist” are resourceful. They get out a message for help, and Captain Picard’s crew intercepts it. Now they just have to find a way to act on it without upending all the peace talks and starting an intergalactic war.

jean-luc-picard-star-trek-next-generation
Sir Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation (Paramount)

Great for Star Trek: The Next Generation fans

Pliable Truths takes place between Star Trek: The Next GenerationChain of Command” and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine “Emissary”. It gives deeper insight into how and why the Federation ended up becoming a permanent presence in the Bajor sector. For Star Trek fans, this is fascinating. For those who have no prior experience with Star Trek, it’s a little boring. 

There is a lot of background knowledge needed to really enjoy Pliable Truths. The characters are fully developed personalities with very detailed backstories that are all relevant to understanding what’s going on in the story. Without the requisite understanding, it was easy to get lost and bored while reading Pliable Truths. Ward often just assumed the reader knew things that, unless they have watched a lot of Star Trek shows, they just won’t.

Again, for Trekkies, this won’t be a problem, and let’s face it, if you’re not a Star Trek fan, you’re probably not going to pick up Pliable Truths in the first place. But if you do, just be aware that the main story is good. There are just a bunch of side stories and backstories that you aren’t going to know, and some character relationships that might be confusing. Still, you can read around those if you really want to (I did, it still worked okay).

Pliable Truths by Dayton Ward is two exciting stories in one

The great thing about Pliable Truths is that it’s really two stories for the price of one. We get the story of the Bajoran slaves fighting to survive on a hidden planet. And we get the story of diplomatic drama onboard Terok Nor. Both stories are interesting in their own ways. And both stories are pretty action packed (an unexpected plus for the diplomatic proceedings). Ward times the storyline switches pretty well so that we’re never left wondering what’s happening in either story for too long. Star Trek fans are definitely not going to want to miss this adventure.

Rating: 7/10

Pliable Truths by Dayton Ward is now available wherever books are sold. Are you going to check this book out soon? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord. 

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

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