Just finished 'Seize the Fire' and must admit to having found it a bit of a struggle as well. I've been wondering over the weekend and think I've managed to put my my finger on why (for me), it just doesn't seem to resonate.
It doesn't feel
principally like a Titan
story. To me the Gorn Hegemony was understandably the principle storyline and that they shoehorned 'Starship XXXX' into the story to give it a necessary familiarity.
Now when I look at 'Zero Sum Game' I realise I'm seeing exactly the same thing – The Breen story took priority and they dropped Bashir/Ezri/Aventine
into the story at the last minute. I missed it at the time (possibly because I find the whole Ezri/Aventine
thing a little dull) but If I look at it now, I firmly believe that you could have done a wholesale 'flip' of the Titan
appearances between the two novels and the story itself wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference to the outcome. Both appearances from a Starfleet crew appear tacked on to the main stories – 'Tell us more about race XYZ in the Typhon Pact.”
Don't get me wrong, I found exploration of both the Breen and the Gorn hierachy's, back-stories and culture fascinating and well implemented. What struggled to resonate for me was the Starfleet parts. As discussed up-thread, Riker seemed 'off', Vale wise-cracked, Ree reminded everyone he looked like a dinosaur, Keru was beardy etc etc. It was a bit 'paint-by-number Titan.
Now I don't think I noticed this previously in ZSG, because (due to my own preferences) I'm just not that 'into' Ezri as a Captain and wouldn't necessarily notice if her character seemed 'off' (principally that's my gripe with the character as a whole in the first place - she's all over the place!). In Riker and Titan
as a whole however, it stood out like a sore thumb.
I might re-read ZSG again and see where I could/would have swapped over crews/ships and whether there would be any definable difference.