This book, which is comprised of three novella length stories follows the continuity of the various Star Trek episodes that feature the Mirror Universe (MU) and therefore contradicts past MU novels.
The decision of Pocket Books to do this tends to suggest that they are trying to set up a coherent consistant timeline for the book series that avoids contradicting aspects of the five TV shows, something which has happened regularly in the past.
The first story is titled THE AGE OF THE EMPRESS and is the direct sequel to the the Star Trek Enterprise MU episodes "In A Mirror,Darkly", the novella begins immediately at the point the TV instalments leave off. Now this is all very well but the problem is that for a reader that is not familiar with the MU or indeed Star Trek Enterprise itself the events in the story are going to be very difficult to fully understand, a prior viewing of the MU episodes is absolutely essential to enable the reader to fully appreciate just what is going on, a good analogy would be to start reading the Harry Potter books with number five, it's written to be enjoyed on it's own merit but without prior knowledge of the previous four books the reader cannot obtain the entire picture, and that runs true for all the stories in this collection.
Without revealing the story THE AGE OF THE EMPRESS effectively is the foundation of the backstory to the MU covering the Empress Sato's bid for power and the subsequent rising insurrection of the conquered races in an attempt to overthrow her.
Another problem with the history of the MU is that quite a substantial amount of information about this was provided by the TV episodes themselves, without them going into to much detail they gave the important facts which allowed the viewer to anticipate the direction of the MU history, so these written stories, which are of course all new do feel in a strange way slightly familiar because of the information that we were given from the TV stories.
The second story THE SORROWS OF EMPIRE deal with the consequences of the original series episode "Mirror,Mirror" and has Mirror Spock seize control of the empire in a coup and begins to radically reform that empire turning it into a republic, he thus weakens the new republic's strength and it is eventually conquered by the Alliance of the Klingons and the Cardassians that was introduced in the Deep Space Nine MU episodes.
The final story of this collection is called THE WORST OF BOTH WORLDS and is the turn of The Next Generation aspect of Star Trek to get the MU treatment. This story is perhaps the most intersting of the three,the reason being that since humans have been enslaved for over one hundred years the adventures of Captain Picard and crew of the Enterprise D never occured in this reality and as such this story is both new and original, while at the same time does feature many familiar things, such as the Borg, Vash, Noonian Soong, The Stone of Gol, Gul Macet etc, etc.
If you are a Star Trek fan then you will love this book, if you are not or have just a general interest in Star Trek then it could be prudent to chose a more stand alone novel that does not require as much prior knowledge, as a huge Star Trek fan myself who has been fascinated by the MU aspects of the franchise for years I think that this book is excellent and I eagerly await the second volume of this series, Obsidian Alliances covering the MU of Deep Space Nine, Voyager and New Frontier.
Over the past couple of years I've found myself immersed in star trek books since I started reading all the "A Time To..." series. When I heard about this book and it's sister book "Obsidian Alliances" I couldn't wait. I always enjoyed the mirror universe episodes. I wasn't disappointed.
The first story is about Empress Sato. I have not seen the Enterprise episode which precedes this story and wish that I had seen it as I would have got some back story, but I soon got into it and didn't feel that my lack of knowledge detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I like that in this universe characters who were more "chorus" than lead are given completely different and exciting story arcs.
The second story was fantastic, and gives the reader a taste of what is to come, setting the story for all the following stories. Spock has a plan, and goes to some great lengths to make sure his plan doesn't fail.
The third tale I found a little unnecessary. It fills in a few questions but I felt that it was merely an excuse for the writer to include as many characters from the series which hadn't been seen in the mirror universe. Stories from maybe ten TNG episodes are included here and I just found it all a little too much. I think maybe I would have preferred to see some characters who weren't used enough for whatever reason. I wish Tasha Yar could have been included. There's still time yet though, as the saga isn't quite finished yet.
I was thirsty for more and was rather relieved when I finished the book that the next one was due to land on my doorstep any day...
The death toll in these books is massive. I haven't seen anything like it since the A Time To... series. I thought Joss Whedon like to kill off characters willy nilly...
The first story doesn't feature Captain Archer, Kirk is dead in the second, and most of the TNG cast are missing from the third. It's nice to see that the editors have cared more for the story and the most appropriate characters for the job (except for the TNG story.)
A great book though - read it in two nights. The stories are more like novellas than the short stories in books like "Prophecy and Change" and "Distant Shores" so there's more room for characterisations. Highly recommended.
A very good read, the glaucous and heavy atmosphere of the mirror universe is very well rendered and all 3 stories are great to read; all 3 novels in the book are actually a sort of trilogy and are interconnected - a great prowess from the multiple and talented authors, this was really one project under the umbrella of the editor. The desperation from the beginning progressively becomes hope of a slightly better future under Emperor Spock although implying so much sacrifices, then becomes a reality in the 3rd part, where the "parallel Picard" is the closest one in term of personality from his alias in our universe.