That being said, I found the two flashback chapters to Sisko's time during the Federation-Tzenkethi war to be a bit jarring because I felt they added very little to the overall narrative. Likewise, I found Sisko's involvement in the story to be unnecessary. While I enjoyed the natural progression of his character since his return from the Celestial Temple (despite disagreeing with Sisko on his motives), I found his role in the story to be tangential at best. I felt his mission to visit Donatra was merely there so he could have a direct connection to the main narrative (and have an excuse for his presence in the book) but I found it unbelievable that he happened to be the second most knowledge person of the Romulans after Spock within the Federation. Sure his dealings with them during the Dominion War and his time at the embassy (was that fact known prior to this book?) gives great insight in the way they work, but of all the captains, admirals, ambassadors, diplomats, and dignitaries in the Federation, Sisko is the best person Akaar and Bacco can come up with?
Speaking of natural progression of characters, I have to say I was initially very shocked by the revelation that Kira left Starfleet and joined the Bajoran Religious Order, and is now a Vedek (although not a member of the Vedek Assembly thus hopefully never to become Kai). I had been very interested in Kira's progression in Starfleet and I didn't like the sudden change in career direction. I had thought the attack from Taran'tar and her initial encounter with Illiana Ghemor wasn't enough to push her in that direction, but I suppose the additional untold story of Kira's second encounter with Illiana along with the Ascendants is what pushed her over the edge. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that encounter goes.
I agree with all of this. Sisko's involvement with this book felt very out of place. The primary plot of the novel revolves around the Romulans. Using Spock as the lead protagonist is appropriate and works fine, since we are aware of his unification movement on Romulus. While I was happy to see Sisko again, and I was really surprised by the direction that his story has gone in (losing contact with the prophets, abandoning his family, re-joining Starfleet), I felt like these events should have been handled in a separate novel of its own. Sisko's story and Spock's story were pretty independant from one another and they were just barely connected by sending Sisko to briefly meet with Donatra.
Not thrilled with the notion of Kira leaving DS9 and Starfleet to become a Vedek. I just don't buy it. I know there's a huge gap in her story that will need to be filled in, to explain what went down with the Ascendants and Ghemor. Maybe I'll end up being fine with everything in the end, if and when the missing pieces of the DS9 relaunch are finally filled in. But right now, I'm not terribly happy with all of the shuffling that's taken place with regards to DS9 in the post Destiny
I felt like we didn't get much insight into the Tzenkethi in this novel, but what little we did get seemed interesting, at least. I understand the desire to tell Sisko's flashback story of the Tzenkethi war in order to help flesh out that missing piece of Trek history, as well as to help develop this alien culture. But again, it seemed out of place and it didn't contribute to the plot. In fact, did Sisko interact with the Tzenkethi at all in this novel? I don't remember him being connected to the Tzenkethi story aside from those flashback sequences. I kept expecting Sisko to get put into a sticky situation with the aliens, and that it would tie into his past encounter with them. But that didn't happen.