#9: To Dream in the City of Sorrows
|Written by Kathryn M. Drennan||Dell Publishing, 1997|
This novel takes place between Chrysalis / Points of Departure (Sinclair's recall to Earth) and War Without End, Part I. The Prologue and Epilogue of this novel takes place shortly after Grey 17 is Missing (Marcus' fight with Neroon).
Several weeks after his appointment as human Ambassador to Minbar, Jeffrey Sinclair is being told nothing and is prevented access from contacting Babylon 5, Earth or his fiancee, Catherine Sakai. Eventually, he is appointed as new human head of the Anla'shock - the Rangers, a covert force for peace that will spearhead the upcoming fight against the Shadows, an ancient enemy of the Vorlons and the Minbari.
It was the great Minbari leader, Valen, who won the last Shadow War a thousand years ago, and according to prophecy "a Minbari not born of Minbari", as Valen was, will become the new Entil'zha Na, or Ranger One when the Shadows next emerge.
Grey Council leader Jenimer and Rathenn, a Religious Caste member of the Grey Council, believe that this is Sinclair. Sinclair, against the wishes of Alyt Neroon and the Military Caste, wishes to recruit Worker Caste members to the Rangers, as well as humans. One of the humans Sinclair recruits is William Cole.
Meanwhile, Sakai is on a survey expedition to the galactic rim - where she finds a planet devastated by some freak occurrence. A warning from Sinclair puts her on the alert - and on her way home she encounters strange ships in hyperspace, just managing to avoid being attacked by one. William is sent to the Arisia Mining Colony to contact his brother, Marcus, who runs the operation, to make a deal for the supply of Quantium 40, a valuable mineral making interstellar travel possible. However, Shadows attack the Colony and William is killed - Marcus fulfils his last promise to him to travel to Minbar to join the Rangers.
Tracking Sinclair to Minbar, Sakai decides to join as well. Shortly after the completion of their training, Jenimer makes it his dying wish for Sinclair to be proclaimed full Entil'zha, despite Neroon's reluctance. Rathenn and the Vorlon Ambassador Ulkesh send Sinclair, Marcus and Sakai on a secret mission: the Shadows are planning to seize control of the time rift in Sector 14, and must be stopped. Aboard three experimental new White Star fighter ships, the three manage to defeat the Shadow force - but Sakai disappears through the time rift. Later, after Sinclair has left to fulfil prophecy as Valen, Marcus receives a message indicating that they are both safe and well making history.
Notes: Reference is made to the events of the comic The Price of Peace. Sinclair composes a message to Garibaldi which is seen in The Coming of Shadows, and events of All Alone in the Night (the Streib invasion, Delenn's replacement on the Grey Council by Neroon) are mentioned. Sakai's encounter with the First Ones (Mind War) is also recalled. The time rift in Sector 14 is first seen in Babylon Squared, and again in Knives and War Without End. During the battle with the Shadows, Sinclair is inflicted with the scar he is seen with in War Without End. Marcus is assigned to the Drazi colony on Zagros IV (see Matters of Honor). Valen is said to have "passed beyond" and not specifically said to have died (he left no remains) - could he have gone beyond the Rim as the First Ones (Into the Fire) and Sheridan (Sleeping in Light) did?
Slight background details about the origins of the jumpgates are given here: they were originally constructed thousands of years previously by an ancient, now-extinct alien race. The Minbari discovered this ancient network, and utilized it. The humans were first introduced to the jumpgates and its technology by Centauri.
Recurring Characters: Commander Jeffrey Sinclair; Catherine Sakai; Neroon; Marcus Cole; Rathenn is mentioned in A Voice in the Wilderness, Part I, introduced in the comic The Price of Peace, and finally seen for real in War Without End, Part I and Grey 17 is Missing. Turval and Durhan are seen in Learning Curve. Ambassador Ulkesh is possibly the Vorlon seen in War Without End, Part I (see also The Passing of the Techno-mages #3: Invoking Darkness).
Kathryn M. Drennan is J. Michael Straczynski's wife, and writer of the episode By Any Means Necessary. A foreword to this novel by JMS indicates that this story can be considered "canon" (as with The Shadow Within). The book was reprinted with a new cover in July 2003.