I hate to admit it, but this was the first Titan book I've actually disliked. And I enjoyed Mr. Martin's work every time previously, whether it was with Mr. Mangels or not. Honestly - the book feels like it was only half written. I don't know if Mr. Martin began it with his (former, apparently) writing partner and just finished it solo or what, but there's so much that's just not there. There are number of potentially important and interesting events that simply happen 'offscreen', and for the life of me I can't figure out why. Tuvok aboard the ecosculptor, Riker about the Gorn flagship at the end... a number of scenes like this really contribute to the feeling of only having read half a book.
Another big problem was the characterization, in both actions and dialog. Certain characters seemed very off - neither Xin nor Dakal felt.. 'right'. Many of the familiar Titan characters don't appear at all, and some only get a few generic lines. (On the other hand, Sariel Raeger seemed to get more lines than she ever has before.) Troi seemed to have reverted to her season one TNG persona. Vale felt like a cheap Tasha Yar knockoff instead of the character she's always come across as. And Riker... I'm not even sure I know where to start. Most of his decisions seem completely absent any sort logic or reason to them. When he went to Gog'resssh's ship, there seemed to be no justification for it, or even purpose to it.
And then there's the so-called Prime Directive concerns raised here. This is exactly why I hate the Prime Directive. It's a stupidly arbitrary and asinine law, and I can't believe Riker would be so concerned about it in the face of saving a world from being destroyed by the Gorn. They're an alien, aggressor species, not a natural disaster. Starfleet can't go giving younger races advanced technology, okay, I get that. Starfleet can't go around just repairing planets and unobstrusively averting natural disasters like meteor impaces... okay. Stupid, (really, really stupid) but okay. I guess.
Starfleet can't stop a hostile foreign power from using an alien device to wipe out the biosphere of an entire planet? Why the hell not? Where's the interference? I don't get it, and plots like this make me wish for a throway line in the next Star Trek movie where Kirk says "I'm sure glad they did away with General Order One. That whole Prime Directive bit was nonsense."