Finished the book yesterday. And it left me feeling a bit ambivalent.
First of all, it was a much easier read than PoM, certainly because there was no present tense or 1st person-PoV. There was enough adventure and quick action to make this book into a page-turner. But even though, it lacked the emotional depth of the last part of PoM. Again, I repeat what I said in my reaction to PoM: Maybe that's because I'm merely a casual reader now who has no knowledge of the prior parts of the TP. Granted, this book could be read on its own, but there's a lot of contextual information that's only hinted at - and not knowing the details IMO distracts and minimizes the pleasure of reading the story. I've often said here that I'd wish for some kind of "What happened earlier" in the books, especially in books connected to each other. But the way it was I didn't quite get the Breen's apparent obsession with that propulsion system, leading them to literally throw away the Soong androids which really could have secured them dominance if used wisely. And of course, the intricacies of the whole political situation escaped me almost entirely.
My reaction to Piniero's death was... indifferent, again. Frankly, I'd have felt more if Wexler had been killed and then used as a traitor.
I found the character moments on the E-E much more interesting. First of all, there was no real dealing with Worf's loss. Of course, Silent Weapons occurs a couple of months after PoM, but still, save for some problems with Smrhova which were mentioned in passing (because their actual interaction was quite limited), he was pretty much sidelined to putting some of the clues together. Except for 2 or 3 mentions of Choudhury, it was like nothing ever happened - which reenforced my red-shirt point of view. I'd have wished for more here.
OTOH, I quite liked Smrhova's portrayal, but I guess her ambition and her need to prove herself, coupled with her badass attitude could lead to troubles in the near future.
I didn't quite get what Beverly's problem was. Honestly, somehow I thought *she* let it go to her head that she's the "captain's" wife and shouldn't quite worry so much about Rene. It's not news, after all, that Picard has troubles keeping his relationship with a woman under his command and his duties as officer apart - that was the issue why he and Darren separated in "Lessons" after all. Back then, his focus was on his career - and even though he felt terrible putting her in danger, working together while having a relationship was not possible. The only shift in attitude from Picard was that now he's ready to resign himself and put the relationship above his career. So, what does that tell about Beverly and her perception of their relationship? And why does she criticize Picard? After all, she could have put herself between "Piniero" and Bacco as well. And if one goes one step further: What if Rene had been there? Would she really have expected and accepted Picard sacrificing his son? This was a "Change of Heart"-kind of situation. And actually, considering that his first officer has a mark on his record for that incident with Jadzia, perhaps Picard and Beverly should have made plans to prevent such situations (not going on away missions together etc). Well, the signs are there that they will leave the E-E in the near future... Who knows what will happen then to stories set on the E-E...
Finally, I was a bit disappointed by Data's role here. I loved the way he contacted Geordi and had confidence that his former colleagues would come. Then again, save for mimics and smiles his return to being the Data of old, solving puzzles, making use of his android speed, felt a bit too convenient. Especially his integration into the entirety of the Enterprise crew during the "think tank"-parts. I mean, they all know of Data, they might have heard of his return... but they don't know him and at least displayed no obvious curiosity towards him. To me that seemed a bit too much like business as usual.
I hope the 3rd part will continue Data's storyline (as the epilogue suggests it will), and in doing so be a bit more emotionally engaging than this novel. I realize that most of what I've written here is critical, but, overall, Silent Weapons is a good book. However, I'm not satisfied with good. *g*