This book is the last in the A Time to-series. It ties up some loose ends and sets the stage for Nemesis. As such it's a bit difficult to rate this book because it feels filler between the main story of the series and the coming events.
First of all, this is a book about politics - Federation politics, Klingon politics. Following Zife's resignation (and assassination), special elections are held which moderate Nan Bacco wins against Fel Pagro who advocates a dissolution of the Khitomer Accords following the Tezwa crisis. Martok also faces quite an opposition and has to appoint an ambassador that's everything but friendly towards the Federation. Even the Federation embassy on Qo'noS isn't safe from radicals - claiming, among other things, that Kahless has been replaced by a hologramm by the Federation. Indeed, Kahless has left the Klingon Homeworld, but of his own choosing because his purpose as leader is fulfilled. The same thing applies to Worf who has made enemies among the Klingons with his actions during the Tezwa war. He chooses to resign from office and rejoins Starfleet.
And then, of course, there are the changes on the Enterprise - wedding plans, the search for a first officer on Titan... and the inevitable change of plans after the events of Nemesis.
It's a quiet book, nothing much is happening - which isn't a bad thing. I really like to see the characters interact, and I almost always favoured to so-called bottle-episodes to action and special effects-spectacles. So it's a good thing to see the aftermath of Tezwa, the effects on the crew the events of A Time to had - and of course, also to get a glimpse into the politics of the 24the century.
Perhaps this is my main point of criticism in this book - Nan Bacco and her staff awfully sound like a copy of "The West Wing". Make no mistake, I love West Wing, the wit, the speed, the way simple dialogue carries episode after episode without becoming boring. But hearing Bacco say, "What's next?", or exchange witty remark after witty remark with her staff... it's a bit too much. Do I want to learn more about Federation politics? You bet I do. But it needs to be different. In my mind, when I read those passages in this book, I kept seeing Bartlet, Leo, Josh, Sam and CJ - not Bacco, Piniero etc. And that's a real problem if you want to establish original characters in positions of power. It won't keep me from reading "Articles of the Federation", the next book, dealing with Bacco's first year of presidency and even labeled as West Wing of Star Trek, but it's making me wary, to say the least.
I was looking for some resolution of the assassination plot - but didn't get that here. Instead, Ross is at first a likely candidate for presidency but chooses instead to support Bacco. It remains to be seen whether he did so on the behest of Section 31 - and how Bacco'll react when she learns about the real circumstances of Zife's so called resignation. This is maybe the second let-down in this book. Bacco now knows that Tezwa was armed by the Federation, the part that could lead to war with the Klingons, but not the second part that could destroy the Federation itself, i.e. the conspiracy by the military to dispose of its president. Given what I said before, that this is a book more dealing with aftermaths than actual events, it could argued that this internal plot could have been resolved here as well. The book works as it stands, but I'd say that the plotthreads that come up within a series of books should end within that series of books.
Worf's return to Enterprise seems very natural - Alexander's appointment to Federation ambassador does not. In a way the book contradicts itself a bit. At one point it portrays Alexander as an experienced man of two worlds, able to handle diplomacy and war, on the other hand it emphasizes that only 15 years passed since Farpoint Station - which means, 12 years from his first appearance within the series. And back then he appeared as a 4 or 5 year old boy (not really a "babe" as described when he sees a picture of himself with his mother and father, taken on Enterprise just before his mother's death), which is already a stretch if we are meant to believe he was conceived during K'Ehleyr's first visit to Enterprise... Which means he was about 8-9 human years old when he joined the Klingon military in DS9 - and makes him now about 13 years old. Is that credible? Faster maturation aside, what are the credentials that warrant his appointment?
Coming back to the Enterprise... the wedding plans were a quite amusing side-plot, more interesting, of course, were the changes in the crew and the inspection which led to officers meeting old adversaries and friends alike. The only thing that bothered me was when Riker and Troi didn't prepare for the meeting discussing Kahless' replacement. That was unprofessional and not worthy of a captain and a counselor... especially in the light of the inspection. Riker's poaching of Picard's senior officers had a nice touch. But I'd have been angry as hell if someone like Ross comes on board and just interferes with my recruiting - quite frankly, I'd have told him to mind his own business (of course, politely).
The epilogue which takes place after Nemesis grants a few insights into the immediate aftermath - such as Geordi and Worf cleaning out Data's cabin (and Worf adopting Spot), Bacco dealing with the Romulan/Reman situation... and, of course, Picard being the one constant on Enterprise while almost everyone else of his senior staff left or died.
* LaForge and Riker were at the academy at the same time? How does that work when LaForge was a mere Lt. JG and Riker a commander by the beginning of TNG?
* How and why does Worf know about the weapons on Tezwa being deployed by the Federation itself (and not stolen which is the official story)? Granted, he's an ambassador, but shouldn't that be limited to those who really had to know, or learned about it during the investigation on Tezwa (and were then sworn to secrecy)?
* "There's an old human saying that one death is a tragedy and a millian deaths is a statistic." Quite true - although sometimes even ST-authors fall prey to the perceived need to create even larger catastrophes, higher numbers of victims etc. But in this case, Data's loss was quite keenly felt. Well done!
I'm not sure whether this book serves as incentive to continue with the TNG-storyline after Nemesis - of course, I know the broad strokes, but the sense of family that I always associated with the senior crew is now gone, and from what I've read of the post-Nemesis books (mainly the Destiny-trilogy and Cold Equations) the new characters just can't replace those who left. Instead, A time for War... serves as a swan-song to "TNG proper", leaving quite a bittersweet aftertaste.