Sacraments of Fire is the next part in the heavily interconnected Trek relaunch, following up on the events in George's own "Revelation and Dust".
... which perhaps leads me to the first and most important point of criticism. I don't know why but there's no note within the books lately about which parts of the relaunch are most heavily referenced. I label myself as a casual Trek reader, meaning I read the parts that appeal to me but certainly not every single one. So from the DS9-relaunch itself I read only the first 4 books, skipped the Mission Gamma tetralogy and read Unity (which was described as a jump-in point into the narrative, an assessment I don't quite agree with - but that's another story entirely) - the next encounter with anything DS9-related was the Destiny-trilogy and then I read George's 4 books "Rough Beasts of Empire", "Plagues of Night" & "Raise the Dawn" and the afore-mentionned "Revelation...". And of course, I've missed plotthreads like the whole Ascendants-business - and that's perfectly okay. But the way this book is structured, one part set in the days after Bacco's assassination, the 2nd half about 3 months later when everything is resolved, means that the plot of at least one other book is totally spoiled here. I have no reason whatsoever to pick up Mack's "A Ceremony of Losses" now because I don't just know the broad strokes of what happens there, but quite a few details... And is that necessary? Wouldn't it have sufficed to say that the question of who was behind the assassination was solved, the presidential elections are over and that's it? No reason at all to go into any details because quite frankly, none of the characters on which the focus of Disavowed lies, even features in Sacraments... Yes, I'm disappointed because I had Ceremony on my reading list - no longer. And this situation could be prevented if there were any series-list of books in chronological order, or some kind of list which books you should have read prior to this one (or any other book in the series). It's a bit strange to ask readers to google on the internet for the correct reading order just because you'd like to keep the illusion alive that every book can be read independently.
Back to Sacrements, as I said before, the plot roughly consists of 3 timeframes - a couple of days after Bacco's assassination, 3 months later, and 6 years earlier, telling the story behind Ghemor and the Ascendants' attack ("Warpath" to "The Soul Key")... a story in which Kira, flung back in time (or is it forward now after her stay in Bajor's distant past?) by the Prophets and recovered by the Even Odds, the ship Taran'atar landed on after leaving DS9, plays an important role.
Not having read the previous Ascendant-novels, Ghemor's part didn't interest me all that much. Neither did Kira's which early on descended into a too detailed retelling of how Taran'atar became a crewmember on the Even Odds and later a too detailed description of some kind of spatial anomaly on board that ship. Those pages were quite hard to wade through. As were the constant repetitions of how afraid Kira is of changing her past by interfering or not interfering with events as she remembers them... the typical conundrum of a time-traveler.
Multiple repetitions are par for the course in the present timeline as well - having Blackmer doubt himself on every other page because of the assassination on his watch, or having Ro question Starfleet's orders, and reading about Altek Dans (whom the Prophets transported to the present time) waiting for admittance to Bajor not only once but nearly every time they appear becomes tiresome, really fast. I'm not sure why George decided on summarizing pretty much every chapter in the following one... does he underestimate his readers' reading comprehension abilities so much? Or overestimate his plot's complexity? Overall, this part of the story appears to be the most interesting one, dealing with so called heretics who uncover a machine on Bajor's largest moon which apparently the Prophets used to construct the wormhole - apparent proof that they are nothing more than aliens, rather than divine beings, which threatens to tear apart Bajoran society, the belief system in a general and personal respect. I'm looking forward to the continuation of this part, most certainly.
And last but not least we have Sisko at first patrolling the Tzenkethi border right after the assassination before finally being able to get on with an exploratory mission into the gamma quadrant - not before delivering Odo to a secret research station where something is investigated that might have been (might still be) a founder, one of the 100 sent out into the galaxy. The events on the research station also whetted my appetite for more.
Overall, unfortunately, this novel feels disjointed (especially due to the different timeframes) and certainly not up to par with George's usual high quality writing. It picks up speed towards the end, getting quite engaging, and I'll definitely pick up its continuation, but that doesn't change the fact that it took ages to get there, endless repetitions and descriptions - and a first part set on DS9 which was rendered quite useless by resolving it off-screen. Again, who came up with that stupid idea, anyway?