Orion's Hounds is by far the best of the series so far. In fact I will go so far as to say that it was the best Trek book of the year.
Book one was very good, book two kinda fell flat and book four was entertaining, if a bit confusing in spots.
I think we are in agreement. However, just like the opening chapters of "Challenger: Chainmail", the confusion in "Sword of Damacles" was on purpose, and part of the storytelling. I loved being confused, and I loved finally "getting" it.