I have to say that I wasn't sure of what to make of it at first as I was reading. It was a bit difficult at first, what with my "Klingons as idiots with wrinkles" frame of reference. As I read, I really got an appreciation for the material. Yes, the storytelling can be opaque at times, but you have to remember that it is a novel being read by Kirk, and the information would make more sense to someone living in the 23rd century.
The structure was pretty ingenious. JMF mentions "the reflective game" early on, and I noticed that the ending and beginning of the story mirror one another.
I also really like the Cold War analogy. I just wish that the cover art would have depicted Krenn as having the forehead wrinkles, as he is depicted in the novel. Actually, I wish that he had no wrinkles in the novel.