I like Martin more than most, but I too feel his characterization could use work.
I was a bit disappointed that the species behind the Terraforming device was never identified and the scene where we could have established that (Tuvok's mind meld) didn't materialize.
The taunt of having Tuvok and White/Blue remember knowledge from the device is interesting but is just seems like trying to dangle a thread for another book and not being subtle about it.
The references to ENT-era Trek events, particularly ones from the next novel or to-be-written storyline were amusing.
Vale's jibes about the too-pacifistic Hranrarii cast my mind back to Lost Souls
as this seemed the kind civilization the Caeliar are searching for in the latest iteration of their Great Work.