Captain Kathryn Janeway and the crew of the USS Voyager are marooned in the Delta Quadrant, 70,000 light-years from the Alpha Quadrant and earth. Although they manage to make friends and find energy sources to power the ship, the holographic doctor shocks Janeway when he tells her that the crew is ill with an ancient sickness: scurvey. They're low on vitamins, especially vitamin C.
Luckily, the crew manages to find a planet that not only has food, but the whole world is one enormous garden. According to their self-appointed Delta Quadrant ambassador, Neelix, the garden is home to a race called the Kirse who protect the planet with an orbital defense system. Janeway, Paris, Kim and Torres go down to the planet's surface and start to explore. They find signs of civilization: stone roads, antennas and a giant citadel. To their delight they also find plants that seem to be edible: cheese from trees, golden leaves, pale yellow peach-like fruits that smell like pears, and other plants that smell like honeysuckle. They also encounter - but don't get a chance to communicate with – small 2-fingered, silver-haired creatures who live in the garden.
The crew finds a metallic tunnel, explores it and, finally, meet the Kirse. They're tall, slim and gray, and some have wings. The leader is a male Kirse named Adamant who introduces them to Thilo Revek, from the Alpha Quadrant, who crashed on the planet years before. They all eat together and start to talk about trade. Voyager needs food and the Kirse need metal. To give hardware to the Kirse would break the Prime Directive – the rules that govern Janeway's ship. She offers technology specs but worries that the Kirse could trade the resources with Voyager's enemy, the Kazon-Ogla.
Ensign Harry Kim and Lieutenant Tom Paris are ordered to examine the food to see if it's safe for Voyager's crew to ingest. At the citadel they meet two beautiful Kirse females, Harp and Grayrose. Grayrose takes Tom on a tour of the area, flying overhead in a shuttle. She also talks about the Andirrim, who attacked the Kirse with stolen weapons and drones. Tom also finds out about the two-fingered creatures they encountered. Grayrose calls them the gardeners, warns Tom that they can be hostile, and admits that the creatures are basically slaves to harvest food that the Kirse need. Although he knows that he shouldn't get involved with alien women, Paris finds himself attracted to Grayrose.
Back on the ship, Janeway has a meeting with her officers and Chakotay voices his opinion about the Kirse. Although they don't condone the Kirse having slaves, they can't get involved in the planet's culture, plus they need to be on the Kirse's good side to get the food. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Torres meets a Kirse named Silver-Hammer who explains that there's a plant his world that the Andirrim are addicted to, and that's why they attack. Torres also discovers that Silver-Hammer and the others have implants in their bodies.
In the middle of negotiations, the planet is attacked by the Andirrim. Janeway acts quickly to get her crew back to the ship, but they're unable to transport Paris. With Grayrose, Paris pilots a shuttle to fight back against the Andirrim. Grayrose is hurt in the crossfire and is taken to sickbay when they manage to get back to Voyager. She dies, and Tom grieves.
When the Andirrim are defeated, Janeway and Paris return to the planet to finalize the trades and return Grayrose's body. They're shocked when the Kirse suddenly start to melt. Their bodies, silver wings and all, collapse and get absorbed by Adamant, who reveals that he and Revek are actually the only inhabitants of the planet. The rest are sentient, organic machines. Revek advised him to trick Janeway because his true form would be disturbing to her. Paris is relieved that Grayrose isn't really dead, and insists that even though she wasn't “real,” she was special and unique. With all of the secrets finally out in the open, Janeway and Adamant finally make their trades, and Voyager continues on its journey home.
Best part of story, including ending:
I enjoyed the story because the characters got to explore an alien planet and encounter a new culture.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Adamant allowed Paris to see Grayrose again, even though she was dead.
Opinion about the main character:
Janeway is likable in this story especially because she refuses to join forces with the Kirse's enemies.
In this story the crew are in desperate need of vital nutritional supplies. To get what they need the crew must trade with a mysterious race called the Kirse, who live on a paradise planet and are legendary for their secretive ways.
The Kirse seem friendly enough but they will trade only in return for Voyager's transporter technology. Should Janeway trade with the possibility that the technology will fall into the wrong hands?
Then they are forced to defend the Kirse when their enemies the Andirrim attack while away teams are still on the planet. They have to hope that their secretive allies are not as dangerous as their common foe. What is the Kirse's most guarded secret and does it hold the key to their survival. A great read and keeps you guessing until the end. True to the style and pace of the Voyager series.
The review of this Book prepared by H Louise