A series of books in the so-called Star Trek Novel Verse. As of the novel A Singular Destiny, itself following on from the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy, the political structure of the Star Trek galaxy has been shaken up considerably. Six formally non-aligned powers - the Breen, Gorn, Tholians, Tzenkethi, Kinshaya and half of the Romulans - have formed an alliance, becoming new interstellar superpower the Typhon Pact. For the first time, the United Federation of Planets is facing a rival with an agenda matching its own - peaceful co-operation between species for mutual benefit. Political tensions are high, and the state of The Federation now somewhat uncertain.Full-sized novels:
Rough Beasts of Empire (Somewhat part of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Relaunch - focusing on Sisko - and also continuing the story of Spock on Romulus. Pact members featured are the Tzenkethi and the Romulans).
The Alliance: The Typhon Pact, and also the expanded Khitomer Accords, after the Ferengi and the Cardassians formally ally with the Federation and Klingons. Members of the Cardassian military and Ferengi Treasury Guard begin serving on Federation ships and outposts.
Anyone Can Die: Notably, Joseph Sisko, Tal'aura and Donatra in Rough Beasts of Empire, Sela, Vaughn and possibly Kira in Raise the Dawn. And of course Deep Space Nine in Plagues of Night.
Paths of Disharmony returns to the Andorian genetics/politics arc from the Relaunch, and explores the effect Star Trek: Destiny and its aftermath had on the situation. It also makes good use of ideas introduced in Star Trek: Vanguard, with the classified records of those novels' events being integral to Paths of Disharmony's plot.
Arch-Enemy: Politically, President Bacco and Ambassador Tezrene are almost certainly arch enemies by now. In Zero Sum Game, Bacco "wins" the latest political tussle between them (the time before, in A Singular Destiny, Tezrene came out on top). In Paths of Disharmony, it's once again Tezrene's turn to score, when her people succeed in causing further political chaos in the Federation.
Artificial Gravity: The Tzenkethi manipulate gravity on a local scale so they can use every surface of a room for work or recreation. They consider using only the floor to be a foolish waste of available space. Also, they're psychologically uncomfortable with open spaces and prefer the sense of enclosement that comes from having workstations on every wall, floor and ceiling.
Ass in Ambassador: Tholian Ambassador Tezrene, as always. She now represents not Tholia specifically but the Typhon Pact in general.
Cardassian Ambassador Detrek in Brinkmanship blusters, threatens and generally makes the negotiations with the Venetans impossible. She's just a distraction so that the Cardassians can extract an operative from the Tzenkethi homeworld.
Batman Gambit: In Rough Beasts of Empire, the Tzenkethi manipulate Romulan politics so as to become an unofficial leading power in the Typhon Pact. The Romulans are the most powerful faction, but are currently led by somewhat hawkish leaders; this threatens the galactic stability seemingly desired by the Tzenkethi (at least for the moment). In order to "reign in" the Romulans without drawing attention to themselves or damaging the Romulans' actual strength (which serves the Pact well), they conspire to remove the current Romulan leader and install a Praetor they'd prefer be in power - all through subtle manipulation (and a few assassinations disguised as natural causes). This gambit is played out as Praetor Tal'aura works on her own; to reclaim the breakaway worlds of Donatra's Imperial Romulan State by framing Donatra for a supposed attack on Ambassador Spock, then arresting her when she accepts an invite to a diplomatic conference on Romulus. The latter gambit is playing into the former, as a reunited Romulan state benefits the Typhon Pact and thus is in the best interests of the Tzenkethi.
However, their plan might be starting to backfire as praetor Tal'aura's sucessor (Gell Kamemor) is trying to build peace with the UFP instead of antagonizing it.
Brainwashing: Tzenkethi who deviate too far from their designated place in society are sent for "Reconditioning". Those who cannot be "fixed" via the ReCo process are designated as "nulls" and used as the most menial of laborers.
Bullying a Dragon: The Tal Shiar, Breen and Tzenkethi operatives steal technology from the Dominion. Twice.
Call Back / Continuity Nod: A scene in Zero Sum Game, in which President Bacco is confronted by Federation Council members wary of her potentially questionable decisions, announcing their intention to veto a bill only to be outmaneuvered, recalls a scene in ''A Time to Heal'', where then-President Zife faced a similar confrontation. Where Zife deflected criticism by appealing to humanitarian arguments, while actually up to his neck in illegal activities, Bacco attacks with information on the support she has from other councillors, seemingly convinced that she's on the right side of the moral line. As both novels were written by the same author, the similarities between the two scenes are likely entirely deliberate. Whether the Bacco scene serves to reinforce why she's different and better than Zife or hints uncomfortably at the possibility for Not So Different unless she's careful, is up to the reader.
City of Canals: Utyrak, on the planet Salavat in the Breen Condederacy, as seen in Zero Sum Game. Like all Breen cities it's underground, built on a subterranean canal network.
Dark Is Not Evil: The Breen salutation "Night and silence protect you", and its reply "may darkness bring you fortune".
A Day in the Limelight: Each book focuses on one member (sometimes two) of the titular Typhon Pact, many of them previously somewhat minor players. The only member without a focus was the Kinshaya...until the announcement of a "bonus story" in novella form, which featured them extensively. The same novella took a non-Typhon Pact member, the Talarians, and fleshed them out too.
Democracy Is Bad: The Tzenkethi have this belief, which is why they're so opposed to the United Federation of Planets. Alizome, a Tzenkethi agent, reflects on the disturbing concept of allowing anyone a political voice:
"Those mediocre and substandard minds - uneducated, self-centred, avaricious, prejudiced, chauvinistically patriotic - would ultimately bring about the downfall of their society".
Despair Event Horizon: The Andorians reach theirs in this series, now that Andor has been heavily damaged by the Borg, and they learn that the Federation has been sitting for a century on the technology that might have solved their genetic crisis.
Double Meaning Title: As well as the obvious meaning, Zero Sum Game is also a reference to "cold war" as well as to the Breen, who are popularly supposed to live in sub-zero temperatures.
Evil Counterpart: Although the Breen are a multi-faceted people, as an antagonist culture they serve as this to the Federation. Like the Federation, they draw on multiple races and cultures to form their membership, and no race is legally subordinate to another. However, where the Federation celebrates its diversity and the potential for new perspectives, the Breen fear bias to an extreme degree, and insist on hiding their diversity even as they utilize it. Where the Federation is open and bright, the Breen are secretive, closed-off and embrace the shadows.
Expy: Romulan Commander Marius for Commander Tomalak (who's busy elsewhere at present). The writing in Zero Sum Game even draws attention to the similarity, playing Marius and Captain Dax as a reflection of Tomalak and Captain Picard.
Face Death with Dignity: Thot Keer. It also overlaps slightly with Dying as Yourself, in that in his last seconds he removes his Breen mask to reveal his true face, deliberately dying as a member of his birth race while having "lived a Breen".
Fantastic Racism: Laas the changeling hasn't made much progress in his attitude toward "monoforms", as evident in Plagues of Night. He cares nothing for the political rivalries of the various "solid" species, stating that wars between them would result in less monoforms, leaving the galaxy for those who deserve to have it, namely shapeshifters.
The Andorian engineer who planted the bombs that destroyed Deep Space Nine accuses the Federation of practicing this towards Andorians, though by that point he's pretty mentally unbalanced.
Fantastic Rank System: Breen ranks include Thot (canonically established), Chot, and Ghoc. They're attached to the front of a Breen's short-hand name, so that the Breen Deshinar Tibbonel, for instance, is known as "Chot Nar".
Gorn ranks include the Ozuk, and Warrior Caste units are led by a First Myrmidon.
The Kinshaya ranks translate as Vicar, Deacon, Bishop, Arch-Bishop, etc.
Fictional Political Party: The Parliament Andoria is split between the Modern Progressives and the Visionists. The novel Paths of Disharmony also points out some of the flaws in a political system defined by "rival" parties.
Floating Head Syndrome: Most of the covers, with the exception of Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn, which instead go for (really quite gorgeous) starship art.
General Ripper: First Myrmidon Gog'resssh, a Gorn command officer of the warrior caste. Driven slowly mad by radiation poisoning, he becomes increasingly brutal and unhinged. He switches between being completely paranoid and strangely trusting, though he's always dangerous.
Going Native: Neta Efheny, in Brinkmanship, a Cardassian spy inserted into the Tzenkethi Department of the Outside as a low-grade worker. She comes to prefer the certainty that comes with knowing your place and your function, worrying about nothing but how to perform that function, free from the need to face any of the complications regarding identity or responsibility. She eventually accepts the mind-numbing contentment of a low-grade Tzenkethi and allows herself to be fully subsumed into their society. But not before handing off critical intel to her superiors through a Tzenkethi intermediary.
Good Hair, Evil Hair: Apparently, the Cardassians have taken to wearing their hair close-shaven rather than in the traditional slick-backed style we're familiar with from the TV series. This is because that style is associated with the disastrous policies that led to Cardassia's devestation.
Grappling-Hook Pistol: In Zero Sum Game, Bashir and Sarina Douglas have "bolt-launchers" which resemble tiny harpoon-guns trailing monofiliment wire. They can also be set for zero-recoil for use in space, although at one point Bashir intentionally doesn't do this to use it as a low-power personal thruster.
Green-Eyed Monster: The Breen envy the Romulans' leading position as most powerful Pact member. They therefore spend as much time trying to wrest the dominant position within the Pact from the Romulans as they do plotting against the Federation. And since they do the latter almost constantly lately...
Hero Antagonist: Thot Keer, the Breen shipyard manager in Zero Sum Game. His work crews are developing a prototype starship using stolen Federation technology, and the protagonist's mission is to destroy both prototype and shipyard. Keer is certainly not a villain though; he is merely a patriot who takes pride in his work, and displays great bravery and (for want of a better term) humanity throughout the novel.
Praetor Gell Kamemor may be a Romulan patriot opposed to the Federation politically, but adamantly disagrees with the notion of Romulan superiority that the Tal Shiar and most of the Romulan military believe in. She would rather resolve the conflict with the Federation in the diplomatic arena than on a battlefield. All of her scenes in the series show her as a Reasonable Authority Figure compared to the previous cadre of conniving and backstabbing Romulan politicians.
Hufflepuff House: The Kinshaya, who have important roles in two e-book novellas (The Struggle Within and The Stuff of Dreams) but rarely show up in the full-length novels. It may have something to do with their being the only Typhon Pact member not to be canonically established on screen (they're an invention of the literature).
I'm a Humanitarian: Dr. Ree makes the joke that gives this trope its name. Also, the Gorn under Gog'resssh briefly and half-jokingly suggest they could eat the Starfleet crew for provisions. Of course, Gog'resssh's crew are insane by this point.
Innocent Aliens: The Venetans in Brinkmanship. They're almost completely unable to handle the shifty politics and misdirection of the major galactic powers, with their leading citizen becoming literally ill from stress when confronted with realities like espionage.
Intergenerational Friendship: Eklanir th'Gahryn reflects on the value of these in Paths of Disharmony. In particular, his friendship with his much younger aide ch'Drena is highly important to him.
Klingon Scientists Get No Respect: The Talarian genders have very different social roles, and are liable to underplay the importance of the other gender's work. Given that politics and leadership is a male role, this is most notable and extreme when the male government neglects their people's feminine sphere, leading to unrest in The Struggle Within.
The Gorn seem to have shades of the same problem; emphasizing the warrior component of their culture and disregarding the equally important non-military aspects. In their case, rather than a gender division it's a matter of caste; the Technologist caste appears to be looked down on by the warriors. As an interesting extension of the idea, the Political Caste seems to have such fear of the warriors' tendency to promote themselves above other Gorn that they've deliberately undercut their power by giving them only a single breeding world.
Leave Behind a Pistol: Sela is given a choice between drinking a bowl of fast-acting poison or be branded a traitor and face extradition to Earth for her role in betraying the Praetor and almost touching off war with the Federation. As the Praetor walks away from the cell, she hears the bowl clatter to the floor.
Light Is Not Good: The Tzenkethi, who glow with a beautiful light that is considered strikingly beautiful by most other species. They're actually very manipulative, though, and the clearest villains of Rough Beasts of Empire.
Played with in David R. George III's books, Rough Beasts of Empire, Plagues of Night and Raise the Dawn, which all open with the passage of poetry the title comes from, only they're In-Universe quotes: a Romulan poet in the first book and K. C. Hunter from "Far Beyond the Stars" in the duology. However the titles of the internal sections are all genuine allusions: in Rough Beasts they're from Gerard Manley Hopkins, and both books in the duology Shout-Out to Shakespeare (Macbeth and The Tempest respectively).
Manipulative Bastard: Alizome the Tzenkethi agent, in both Rough Beasts of Empire and Brinkmanship. The Tzenkethi in general are the Manipulative Bastard of the Typhon Pact (the Tholians might give them a run for their money sometimes, but the Tzenkethi take the trophy).
Military Maverick: Romulan Commander Marius, definitely. His apparent rival Captain Dax is often this as well.
My Greatest Failure: Ro sees the destruction of Deep Space Nine as hers, despite saving over 5500 lives.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero. Starfleet's decision to classify the Shedai metagenome following the events of Star Trek: Vanguard a century ago. This comes back to bite them in the ass when the Tholians reveal its existence to the Andorians and that the Federation has been sitting on it throughout the Andorians' genetic crisis. It's the tipping point that leads to Andoria's secession from the Federation.
Not So Different: Depressed and weary after a difficult mission, Julian Bashir cynically ponders how the Federation and the more militant members of the Pact are both acting out of fear and concern for their security and power, and wonders if they're really so different. Then he corrects his thinking, reminding himself that the Federation doesn't seek out conflict, prefers diplomacy to hostility and doesn't seek to usurp other races' territory or resources. In other words, even if the current motives are Not So Different in some respects, he's wrong to suggest the Federation isn't very different from, say, the Tzenkethi or the Tholians.
Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Federation is now not the local superpower, nor is it the only nation working to bring mutually beneficial unity to the worlds of the galaxy.
On a far lesser note, Spock's Reunification Movement is now legal, and he has a full visitor's pass to any Romulan world.
By Plagues of Night, Spock realizes that his role in Reunification is now ending, as his protégés take over.
As of Paths of Disharmony, Andor has seceded from the Federation!
And as of Plagues of Night and Raise the DawnDeep Space Nine is destroyed and the Bajoran Wormhole is closed/collapsed.
Occupiers out of Our Country: As of Paths of Disharmony, a vocal minority of Andorians have come to view the Federation as essentially an oppressive force manipulating Andor for its own ends at the expense of the planet's own national and cultural identity. This is the motivation behind the Well-Intentioned Extremist who serves as the novel's primary antagonist. The idea is encouraged by the Tholians, who arrange to drop a proverbial bombshell at just the right (wrong) time.
One-Federation Limit: The series finishes fleshing out the major nations of Local Space, and indeed there are no duplicates, either in the name of the nation or its leader.
United Federation of Planets: led by the President
Klingon Empire: led by the Chancellor
Cardassian Union: led by the Castellan
Ferengi Alliance: led by the Grand Nagus
Talarian Republic: led by the Commander-in-Chief
Romulan Star Empire: led by the Praetor
Breen Confederacy: led by the Domo
Tzenkethi Coalition: led by the Autarch
Gorn Hegemony: led by the Imperator
Tholian Assembly: led by the High Magistrates of the Ruling Conclave
Holy Order of the Kinshaya: led by the Pontifex Maxima.
Only Smart People May Pass: The home and office of the Tzenkethi Autarch is inside a building with a flexible and highly changable structural design. To access the house requires contemplation of mathematical principles and aesthetics, to puzzle out the likely position of concealed openings. Agents of the Autarch are therefore tested every time they report to the building, and must demonstrate their worth by finding a way inside.
Order Versus Chaos: Important to the Tzenkethi view of the universe; they very definitely represent order. Everyone in Tzenkethi society knows their place, being ranked by exact occupational duties and proficiency level. Chaos is anathema, and the sprawling mass of the Federation and its democratic government is considered a threat and seemingly a very real evil.
Patriotic Fervor: On Andor, among several groups advocating the planet's withdrawal from the Federation in favour of more directly Andor-centric politics. Others fear that Andorian national/cultural identity is being destroyed by influence from offworlders.
Please Select New City Name: In Plagues of Night, the Romulan schoolteacher and Reunificationist, Corthin, speaks about the various name changes inflicted on the Romulan capital. During her childhood, the name changed from Val'danadex Trel to Dartha to Ki Baratan, depending on the whims of successive governments.
This is a nod to the pre-continuity novels, where no one could stick to using just one name for the Romulan capital.
Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Discussed at some length in Seize the Fire, and also played with when the reptilian Gorn show similar revulsion to mammals.
"Mammals. Why did it have to be mammals?"
Revision: Zero Sum Game tackles the Continuity Snarl various sources have turned the Breen into (Do they really need cold temperatures to survive? If not, why do they always wear environmental suits described as having refrigeration properties? How humanoid are they under the suits? Are they invulnerable to telepathy or not?) and comes up with the simple explanation that there's more than one species in the Breen Confederacy.
Space Cold War: There are now two rival political blocs in local space, the Typhon Pact and the nations of the Khitomer Accords. Several books, most notably Zero Sum Game and Plagues of Night, deal with tensions stemming from threats to the balance of power between them.
Brinkmanship may take it the furthest yet, as in some respects the situation in Venetan space is the two powers' very own Cuban Missile Crisis.
Stealth in Space: The Romulans have successfully installed phase-cloak capacity on their ships, allowing them to move through solid matter as well as conceal themselves from other vessels. The Warbird Dekkona uses the technology to successfully infiltrate the Sol system and extract a Breen spy from a Starfleet shipyard.
And then it's used to infiltrate Dominion space and steal components needed for the Typhon Pact's quantum slipstream project. Twice.
Teeth Clenched Team Work: The Pact was thrown together rather quickly, and the member nations aren't always the best at actually working together.
Thrown Out the Airlock: The Gorn Hegemony is shown to practice this as a form of execution. The prisoner is entitled to an official trial, but that doesn't stop some commanders spacing traitors there and then. In Seize the Fire, the Gorn technologist S'syrixx is thrown out the airlock, having been found guilty of sabotage.
Villain Team-Up: Essentially the idea behind the series, only with a twist. The nations which form the Pact were historically antagonistic, often to each other as well as to the Federation. Their outlook is changing, but to what degree and how far will it take them? A "cold war" situation has developed, but the agendas of all the players are still somewhat unclear, and whether the Pact takes an openly aggressive stance towards the Federation depends on which members gain the most influence. The Tholians, at least, are out for blood, whether the rest of the Pact follows their lead or reins them in is anyone's guess.
Wicked Cultured: The Cardassian intelligence agency has adopted this as their distinguishing characteristic. Dax even notes that they're playing it up in an effort to be more like Garak, the eventual "winner" of the Obsidian Order's lengthy game.