Yes, I picked up book 3 even though I was more than a little underwhelmed by the first Sagittarius story.
The story itself dragged on a bit too long. It felt more like a SCE-story: alien culture experiments with technology they don't quite understand (either they come up with the theory themselves or get it from alien cultures or find it lying around), it goes boom and Starfleet miracle workers have to resuce everyone. There were funny little tidbits such as the fact that the sentient race on the planet of the week appeared to be frog-like, their civilization on a technical level like ours in the 21st century, perhaps a bit more advanced with funny allusions to budget cuts (leading to disaster, of course) etc. Loved the way they looked upon the Sagittarius-crew - apparently humans ressemble the primate species on their planet. And I liked the way the Prime Directive was rendered a moot point right at the beginning - although landing on the planet and then wondering why anyone got that landing on tape was a bit much. But again, all the side catastrophes, rescue operations of space stations etc aside... I've read that plot a bit too often already for it to come across as particularly engaging or novel. What bothered me a bit was the attitude of the main researcher - he screwed up royally and keeps criticizing every one of Ilucci's ideas to save his planet?
Whether quietly dropped or hint at future encounters: Dastin is tasked to look in the database whether the technology comes from a known species - the matter is never resolved in this book.
The characters still seem a bit too caricature-like - witty one-liners (although sometimes a bit outdated because is there something like a warranty or money back guarantee in the 23rd century?) are par for the course, but overall the protagonists come across as more sympathetic and real. There are some conflicts within the crew, like with Dastin (a gay Trill) or Taryl (an Orion female, but without the sexual pheromones), even though I don't quite see why Theriault who I still don't see as first officer material has so many issues with particularly Dastin. Of course, he has a cocky attitude, but is he really more insubordinate in his one-liners than eveyone else on board Sagittarius? Or is it because he apparently has the same taste in men as Theriault? Liked Torvin's innocence and his wearing his emotions on his sleeve - and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him and Taryl, the world-weary misanthrope.
I still think that this part of Seekers (as opposed to the Endeavour) needs quite a bit of work. There are technical questions surrounding the Sagittarius - like the fact that only 14 people man this ship which would render longer missions quite impossible. But as established in Vanguard, the Taurus Reach is a vast section of space - so how exactly does the deployment of the Sagittarius work? Do they have downtime since there are practically only 2 shifts on board? Or are they just constantly overworked and overly tired (i.e. does Mack hope no one notices things like that?) And what the hell: there's only room for 8 people in the evacuation buoy?
The same applies to the characters: I really enjoy Torvin, I like Dastin - maybe because of his clashes with Theriault who just rubs me wrong - and Razka, I'm leaning towards Terrell, Sorak and Taryl, and am indifferent towards everyone else. And I certainly don't care about that non-com, enlisted personnell or officer stuff. I never belonged to any kind of military hierarchy, and I certainly don't plan to in the future. And I don't understand why it's such an issue on this ship that it has to be mentionned on every other page whether someone is enlisted or not.
So, there's quite a bit of room for improvement, but at least I see some potential now that I haven't seen after book 1.