The Garden, by Melissa Scott ISBN 0671567993
Three out of five stars
This book, the eleventh in the series of novels featuring the U. S. Voyager, is rather average in depth of the plot and the level of tension that is generated. Due to issues with some of the food they have been eating, the crew of the Voyager is unable to intake enough vitamins to survive, specifically C.
The situation is growing critical and Voyager is in an area with few quality planets, so they are forced to seek assistance from the Kirse. They are a species that is chronically short of metal, so Captain Janeway decides to trade some of their metal spare parts for fresh food rich in vitamins. The Kirse are known as avid traders, so it seems that a deal is possible. From the perspective of the Voyager crew, they have little choice, it seems unlikely they would survive until they could find another planet that could satisfy their needs. While the Kirse planet is ringed with defensive systems, they are informed that it is to repel the hostile Andirrim, to force them into a trading posture.
The Kirse social structure seems enigmatic to the Voyager crew, yet there is nothing significant blocking the execution of the trade. However, an Andirrim task force arrives, supposedly to trade, but in fact to raid. After some unsuccessful negotiation with Captain Janeway, the Andirrim attack the Kirse planet and Voyager, leading to some basic defensive actions. Of course Voyager wins, yet there is no real challenge in achieving the victory.
The action is generally predictable and the constant undercurrent of doubts and uncertainties due to past service with the Maquis reaches the point of being boring. Mention it once, early and in depth and be done with it.