Well, I just finished ASD and have to say that I really enjoyed it. But it is IMO rather a "filler" book that explains more or rather sets the scene than it actually contains a plot. But that's not a bad thing as it introduces new and interesting key players (I "like" those Kinshaya - well, it was about time that some kind of theocratical state appears in ST instead of just your random fundamentalist) and lets our protagonists take a deep breath before the next political, rather than humanitarian, crisis appears.
I enjoyed Sonek Pran very much so far, and I hope he'll make another appearance some time soon. The only point of criticism I have is that he comes across as a little two-dimensional. I'd have wished for a more emotional outburst when he learned of Rupi's death, at least some kind of inkling as to a more darker side to his personality.
I'm still not too comfortable with the Aventine and her crew - I thought that silent treatment of Altoss' towards Sonek was quite a bit childish and ridiculous because ultimately, it wasn't Sonek's decision to go to Maxia Zeta... and he could have argued till hell freezes over when that equally childish lieutenant whose name I conveniently forgot now, had just adhered to her orders.
And given the small amount of ships available - why was Titan sent out on her exploration mission already? I mean, can't Riker help with relief operations first, and then set out again?
ASD's quite a good follow-up to the Destiny-trilogy, setting out pieces of the story until they all come together at the end to form an intriguing mosaic. The only thing I'm a bit concerned about is that ST might get a bit too political for my taste right now. I don't see any opportunity for a light-hearted story of exploration or first contact, at least not in the A-Q. And I certainly don't need another BSG-like monster-arc in ST... But I'll reserve judgment on that for now.
And just for fun: I absolutely cracked up at reading the name of Sara's colleague A'l'e'r'w'w'o'k... IMNSHO KRAD could have put a few more apostrophes in there, before the A and after the k, or a double '' between the two w's. Why stop at 7, after all?
And my favourite line: "Why would anyone read novels based on a serial drama?" (Altoss).
review originally written in 2009.