#174: The Way of the Warrior (DS9 episode)

This week, when the Klingons come over to crash on Sisko’s couch, he enlists Worf to figure out where their road trip is taking them. But when they learn exactly what kind of old-fashioned throwdown Gowron is planning, they’ve got to stop him before he wipes his butt with every treaty on the books. Is talking about life mutually exclusive from living it? Do Klingons eat salad? And is there something fishy about Morn? All this and more in The Way of the Warrior, the book that can’t not contain an obscure military history reference!

The Way of the Warrior
Author: Diane Carey
Pages: 279
Published: October 1995
Timeline: Roughly half a year after Star Trek: Generations
Prerequisites: Familiarity with Worf and Gowron; mild awareness of what the Dominion is and that at this point in the series the conflict is beginning to build, though no one from the Dominion appears in this book

Once again, it’s novelization time, this one tackling Deep Space Nine‘s 90-minute season four premiere, “The Way of the Warrior”, which sees Sisko trying to prevent the Klingons, who fear that changelings have infiltrated the highest levels of government on Cardassia Prime, from starting an internecine war that will leave both sides ill-equipped to fend off the Dominion when they bring the full force of their armament to bear on the Alpha Quadrant. The episode is most notable for bringing Worf into the main cast, as well as introducing General Martok, whom I was legitimately shocked to see with two eyes when I rewatched the episode for this review (forgot he had both up until the Jem’Hadar prison). Despite those important debuts, I feel the episode drags on a bit, and I had trouble keeping my attention trained on it. In fairness, that’s true of several Klingon-centric episodes and stories, but still.

It’s funny about the novelizations. Though many to date have contained enough original scenes and Easter eggs to make approaching a new one theoretically exciting, I can’t help but face each one with a sort of amorphous … not dread, per se, but, like, concern—that it’s just going to be a mundane retread of events, a workmanlike slog that made a little money off the hype of a new season premiere or finale and is now wholly without purpose. On occasion, that has borne out. But for the most part, they’re good enough that I shouldn’t be defaulting to this feeling. And yet.

One might imagine that Diane Carey’s name appearing on the cover might make for a double shot of trepidation. But whatever you think of her (and I certainly haven’t been shy about it), by this point she has communicated many of her preferences, likes, and dislikes clearly enough that you can tell with some accuracy before even opening a book she wrote whether she’s going to put all her energy into it or not. Deep Space Nine is very much in her wheelhouse in a way that the more measured and bureaucratic Next Generation never was, and the deeper you get into the series, the closer you get to the incipient stages of the Dominion conflict and then full-blown war, the more you can tell from her past excitement about military engagements that she’s going to get really into it, showing off her big nautical-encyclopedia brain by dropping words like “abaft” with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and having aliens casually discuss ancient Terran military tactics (which happens here, when Martok talks about Quaker guns while discussing DS9’s ordnance).

You could feel Carey starting to get cozy with DS9 in The Search but not really getting too out there with it. The Way of the Warrior is a much more assured novelization, and she’s fully picking up what DS9 is laying down now, which results in a lot more fun and several new scenes, among which some of my favorites included the bookends with Worf at the Boreth monastery, a great one where Garak is completely dumbfounded by Worf’s total subversion of all his assumptions about Klingons and you get to see the gears turn in Garak’s head about how he decides to parcel information out to Worf, and another one I’ll have to wait to talk more about in a minute. Many of the Klingon characters, even tertiary ones, receive expanded plot lines and increased presences, and there’s a much meatier role here for Garak, whom you can tell Carey is quite amused by (though who among us isn’t?). Carey is clearly having a lot of fun, and it shines through, even in the parts of the book that are already part of the episode.

So my fears of a novelization being redundant were laid back to rest this time, but I can’t promise they won’t creep up again in the future. It should help that all of the DS9 novelizations forthcoming—most of those by Carey as well—are for better episodes than this one. Not that this is a bad one—it’s just a bit interminable for my tastes. I feel like we might finally be getting out of the range where we’re still working through novels commissioned before Deep Space Nine started, and frankly, it’s about time. Introducing Worf to the mix is the point where the show starts getting really interesting, and I’m more than ready to start reading novels set in the back half as well.

MVP & LVP

  • My MVP this week is Kasidy Yates. Another scene noteworthy in its additional development is the Klingon harassment of the Xhosa; Martok authorizes an explosive to be placed onboard during the nominal search, which is as thorough a way to get rid of any potential changelings aboard the freighter as any he can imagine. If I recall correctly, I don’t think we ever got to see Kasidy do any actual captaining on the show, but we definitely get to see it here. Boy, do we ever. When she thwarts the Klingon search party by throwing up shields at the last second and forcing them to transport out into open space, it’s the greatest scene in the entire book. Did she straight-up murder a dozen Klingons? Yes she did. Was it insanely badass? Yes it was.
  • This week’s LVP is Quark, though that’s more of an episode thing than a book thing. He doesn’t have much to do here except hem and haw about how the presence of so many Klingons is going to affect his business. Also, the best scene in the episode, in which Quark uses root beer as an analogy for the Federation in a discussion with Garak—easily a top-five scene in all of Deep Space Nine and maybe one of the best in the entire franchise—isn’t in the book, though I would guess that’s because it was added late in the episode’s production.

Nuggets & Stray Bits

  • I don’t know what it means or if it means anything, but I find it interesting how, putting aside episodes that fell in the middles of seasons, The Next Generation tended to have novelizations written of its season finales, whereas Deep Space Nine gets them for its season premieres. Again, no deep read on this; I just find the contrast fascinating.
  • Dukat also gets a hilarious original scene, where his attempts to evacuate the members of the Detapa Council get held up by the fact that they think he’s trying to overthrow them.
  • “[Martok] drew his dagger, a heavy business blade that could have only one purpose, and salad wasn’t involved.” — This is some noxious sub–Saturday morning cartoon level wisecracking, but it is funny to picture Worf huffing and puffing while eating a salad and complaining that it isn’t a “warrior’s meal”. (p. 28)
  • “Too long had [Worf] lumbered about the monastery, discussing vagaries of life without pursuing life itself.” — While I’m not sure I agree that having conversations about life, especially of the deep-probing type that monks carry on, necessarily means you’re denying yourself the experience of living life, I’m not so interested in arguing that as I am amused by the mental image this passage gives me, which is of Diane Carey trying to meditate and vibrating with impatience until she finally yells out “WHEN DO I GET TO SHOOT SOMETHING” (p. 90)
  • Dax’s Klingon comment to Worf from this scene is translated for us here: “Yes, but I’m a lot better-looking than he was.” (p. 107)
  • Garak, p. 138: “Trust me. You won’t regret this. When it comes to keeping warm, nothing beats Vitarian wool undergarments.” / Especially if the wearer is very nearly a fish, which you are, my friend Morn, you are.” — I haven’t ever given any real thought to what sort of animal Morn most resembles, but I don’t think it would have occurred to me in two lifetimes to think of him as fish-like. Although Lurians’ multiple stomachs weren’t established as canon at the time, knowing that fact makes him amenable to a bovine reading. I’d even say he’s got more in common evolutionarily with a potato than with a fish. Such a weird passage to me.

Final Assessment

Good. We got good-mood Carey this time; since she was invested in the material, it came out smooth and creamy, and with a minimum of many of her more annoying and/or infuriating tendencies to boot. Despite the fact that we’ve witnessed many excellent ones to date, novelizations always present a worry that they’re not going to add anything meaningful to the experience already provided by the episode, but this is one of the ones that manages to dispel that fear.

NEXT TIME: A double dip on Diane and DS9 in Station Rage

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4 Comments

  1. Adam Goss

    I respectfully disagree with you about Quark on this one. Yes he doesn’t have a *lot* to do, but he has have two stand-out bits. One is the conversation between him and Garak about humans and the Federation, putting them down disdainfully (with root beer as a topical simile) before ultimately worrying if those same humans and Federation can save them. A pair of outsider aliens coming from cynical backgrounds, secretly hoping their strange optimistic friends can really save them – it’s one of the greatest political conversations in Trek I know of. The other bit is, for me, the funniest damn bit in the entire series: Odo and Quark talking about how Quark intends to defend his bar against the Klingons who might board the station during their imminent attack:

    “Come on, Quark, move it along. You should be in the emergency shelter by now.”
    “I’m not going to any emergency shelter. This is my bar, and I’m going to defend it.”
    “Really? And how do you plan to do that?”
    “With this.”
    “You’re going to hit them with a box?”
    “No. This is my disruptor pistol. The one I used to carry in the old days, when I was serving on that Ferengi freighter.”
    “I thought you were the ship’s cook.”
    “That’s right. And every member of that crew thought he was a food critic. If the Klingons try to get through these doors, I’ll be ready for them.”
    (Odo reads note in the empty box) “‘Dear Quark, I used parts from your disruptor to fix the replicators. Will return them soon. Rom.'”
    “I will kill him!”
    “With what?”

    Honestly, the only way this could be any funnier is if Rene Auberjonois had read the letter as “”‘Dear Quark, I used parts from your disruptor to fix the replicators. Will return them soon. Love, your brother, Rom.'”

    • jess

      It was kind of hard to come up with one, to be honest.

      Shockingly, the root beer scene (which I agree is outstanding) is not in the book. (Edit: updated the post to reflect that, plus added a nugget I forgot about.)

      • Adam Goss

        She left out the root beer scene??!!

        That’s a crime against Star Trek!!! (can’t believe I just typed that but I stand by it)

  2. Curtis Spindler

    I always interpreted Garak’s thoughts on Morn to refer to his drinking. As in, “drinks like a fish.” But who knows.

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