Commander Nick Keller already has it tough. His crew is alone in a section of space trying to build a colony with two races who hate each other on planets on either side of him. His ship the Challenger is a mishmash of various ship thrown together in a crisis. Now, a strange gateway has opened and aliens come out of it with technology superior to anything he has every seen. And they plan to force everyone to relocate back to their home planets or die!
This was one of the hardest to read Star Trek novels for me. Not that the concpets were they high up or anything, it was just most of it was fairly boring. "The Living" the antagonists in this novel are so odd that they are hard to visualize and fully believe, The Blood (one of the warring races) are so unbelievably self-centered and selfish as a species that it's hard to believe any of them have survived with all of thier rules of conduct, Keller's crew are so off the wall that I cannot believe any of them went through any kind of military style training (and yes Starfleet is the Federation military), and Keller himself seems to have no idea what he is doing for most of the book. At one point a delegation from The Blood come to visit the ship and he actually trips over his own feet and falls on his face in front of them. I just sat there thinking... "that's our hero ladies and gentlemen."
But, all that being said in the last 20% of the book Keller seems to figure out what it means to be in charge and the book suddenly gets very good. So, 2 stars for 80% of the book four stars for the final twenty. Only recommened if you are reading the Gateways series. Ignore it otherwise.