There have been New Frontier books in the past years. There was "Cold Wars," the "No Limits" anthology and the previous hardcover, "Stone and Anvil." At first, I would complain that there isn't a need for another hardcover considering the last few books have been at a special higher price than your standard paperback. Then, after reading it, I see why. "After the Fall" is a new approach to the series. My main complaint about the last slew of NF books has been that it's gone from a believable Trek series with a bit more of a laid back, honest type of humor to being like a fan-fiction running wild. This book seems to return to New Frontier's roots. It's more like a book from the "Dark Allies" days than the more recent ones.
First, a bit of negative criticism. Having read all the books with the exception of "No Limits" and the short story in the Gateways finale, I sort of missed the big story Peter David chose to gloss over. In my opinion, that should have been the focus of a book or series of books. Instead, this starts off like any Greek epic and puts you in the middle of trouble without much explanation. Some of the leading characters like Shelby and Soleta get their moments but they aren't really in the book much. Characters reflect on them and what's happened but still, these characters are left on the outskirts.
The book is also hard to keep up with because there are so many characters in the story that some of the new ones aren't properly introduced, others (such as Selar) are only given a scene here or there, the whole Excalibur/Trident split leaves you wanting to get more of one or the other crew and there's an entirely new setting added, as if we didn't have enough to keep up with; New Thallon. Some characters such as Robin Lefler, Kat Mueller and the Trident's XO all get the spotlight put on them but how they reached this point in their lives is left to the readers to fill in the gaps with the little information provided. I would have also been interested to know how Jellico and Calhoun could have gotten beyond their big issues to become chummy friends. Or what exactly Soleta does in her new position.
Now, the good. The jump does allow for interesting plot developments. I thought I'd be bored to tears at the start with the New Thallon and Si Cwan plot. After getting into it, David seems to have truly created an original plot that only he could have come up with. I like that Cwan and Lefler still have one another to bounce off. There was still that laid-back feel that makes the book easy to read. I was glad to see the return of some old faces from New Frontier's past and a new alien threat being created that sets this series off from one another. What I most liked is that this story and series seems more off on its own than in the past. There has been a reference to some other Trek series or episode in the past. Or some appearance by Picard or mentioning of a big event in Trek that's spawned this situation. This is all original and though David could have mentioned Nemesis, Voyager's return or many other situations, they're left out and the story and series seems stronger for it.
I'd say this story is worth reading. I'm not sure if the book is worth this price. Though there is a dramatic change for the plot and many of these characters, and the juvenile-comic book tone is present in the beginning, there was a noticeable change towards the end of the book that made it seem as if it was getting more mature and leaving behind certain negative things. If you are a fan of Robin Lefler, Si Cwan and Kalinda, I'd say this book was written for you. The Excalibur and Calhoun don't appear to later on in the book and really don't have a large role until the last 100 or so pages. It's still a good read and I enjoyed it more so than I did "Stone and Anvil." It leaves me wanting to know what's going to happen which is more than what the previous few books have left me with.