As this is a spin-off from the Vanguard series I was reluctant to start here but the cover has a big fat number ONE on it, so it seemed like a good place. Sure enough, there were references to the previous series but David Mack did a great job adding the exposition to make THIS story work.
And what a story; in a nice departure from typical Star Trek adventure, the crew compliment of the USS Sagittarius is 14. It is a tiny scout ship making for tight quarters. What I loved best about this book was the dialog. Mack showed a more relaxed crew with a sense of humor and how these tightly-packed people tease each other; get on each others' nerves and work together. This crew felt more real, more believable, less formal than what we've seen on other star ships.
I felt like I was reading an old-fashioned science fiction pulp novel. I mean that in the best way possible; this opening chapter, in what I hope is a long running series, was pure escapist fun. Best of all, there's even a cliff-hanger ending.
This is set in the TOS timeline and makes references to Kirk and the Enterprise for context, and to encourage you to dig out your DVD box set to watch the episode that has a bearing on this story.
The story starts like you'd imagine; the Sagittarius is sent to investigate a strange energy reading on a sparsely populated pre-warp world. The race that lives there all commit a ritual suicide when they reach the age of 17 or 18. This is done to avoid something the natives call The Change. The Starfleet crew are trying to understand these people when - the Klingons show up. Classic!
The wisecracking dialogue and the pacing make this near-stand-alone a must read.
I am so looking forward to book 2 because I want to see what comes next.