(written from a Production point of view)
The novel shifts the timeframe of the Deep Space Nine relaunch series from 2377 to 2381 and 2382, bringing it into the post-Star Trek: Destiny era, and features the two antagonistic Romulan factions, as well as the Tzenkethi. Spock and his reunification movement also play a part after Star Trek Nemesis.
- From the book jacket
- Still on Romulus in pursuit of his goal of reunifying the Vulcans and Romulans, Spock finds himself in the middle of a massive power struggle. In the wake of the assassination of the Praetor and the Senate, the Romulans have cleaved in two. While Empress Donatra has led her nascent Imperial Romulan State to establish relations with the Federation, Praetor Tal'aura has guided the original Romulan Star Empire toward joining the newly formed Typhon Pact. But numerous factions within the two Romulan nations vie for power and undivided leadership, and Machiavellian plots unfold as forces within and without the empires conduct high-stakes political maneuvers.
- Meanwhile, four years after Benjamin Sisko returned from the Celestial Temple, circumstances have changed, his hopes for a peaceful life on Bajor with his wife and daughter beginning to slip away. After temporarily rejoining Starfleet for an all-hands-on-deck battle against the Borg, he must consider an offer to have him return for a longer stint. Beset by troubling events, he seeks spiritual guidance, facing demons new and old, including difficult memories from his time in the last Federation-Tzenkethi War.
- The author commented about Sisko's storyline: "I put Ben Sisko in a difficult place in Rough Beasts of Empire, but that the story still stayed true to his character. I believe that is the case, but I know that not all readers would agree—and I knew that even before I wrote the first sentence of the novel. That’s because I ended up having Sisko take actions that I knew some readers would regard as cowardly or undesirable, and therefore as out of character. I decided on that course, though, for a couple reasons. First, I really wanted to pay off something that had originated in the television show—a declaration made to Sisko by the Prophets—but that never paid off in the series; it also hadn’t yet paid off in the literary Trek world either, so I wanted to get that done. Second, I sought to challenge not only myself and my readers, but also the character of Ben Sisko. Heroes are not heroes because they always do the right thing in the easiest of circumstances; they are heroic because they face adversity, and I think they are often far more interesting when they sometimes make mistakes. That said, I don’t necessarily think that Sisko made the mistakes some readers might have thought he did. He faced an impossible dilemma: either leave the people you love the most, or stay with them and put their lives at risk of almost certain death. I think, overall, he made the only decision he could—and it was a decision, in one form or another, that we had already seen him make in the actual television series". 
- Several events between The Soul Key and this novel are alluded to and were depicted in later novels, including Sacraments of Fire, Ascendance, and Original Sin.
- The novel was announced at the Shore Leave convention on 10 July 2009.
- An excerpt from the novel was published in Star Trek Magazine issue 157.
- This novel takes place before Zero Sum Game, beginning shortly after the Star Trek: Destiny novel Lost Souls.
- Cover art and design by Alan Dingman.
- Benjamin Sisko
- Kira Nerys
- Jake Sisko
- Kasidy Yates
- Leonard James Akaar
Azure Nebula; Bajoran; B'hala; Breen; Dominion War; Deep Space 9; Gorn; jambalaya; M'kemas III; New Orleans; post-atomic horror; Reman; Rihannsu; Romulan; Starbase 137; Tholian; Tyrellian; Tzenketh; Tzenkethi; Vulcan; Vulcan brandy
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Deep Space Nine relaunch series
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