It was very much a 'setting the scene' novel, but the political angle was the most interesting - I'd have liked a little more of it.
There will be a lot of politics in Book 2.
My major gripe was that both of the 'ship' stories were resolved with a slightly heavy emphasis on the way forward being exploration and understanding. I'm not arguing against that - it's at the heart of Star Trek, but to have two stories making the same point seemed a bit much.
Well, that's what themes are for -- to unify the parts of a whole. Besides, it wouldn't have had as much impact on the Federation if they'd given conflicting messages.
Anyway, as I see it, they're not quite the same -- the Endeavour
plot's resolution relies more on diplomacy, while the Pioneer
one relies more on science and exploration. Although there is some overlap.