I'm still chewing my recent experience with reading a Star Trek novel over in my head. the reason, I suspect, was a combination of disappointment with the book and the sense that this was because of the heavy burden imposed by the author of dealing with over a half-century of accumulated backstory. Perhaps this is unfair to Dayton Ward, considering that it was the very idea of a Star Trek novel set in its universe's past that drew me to it in the first place. Yet I can't help but think that Ward over-egged the pudding, at the expense of the story.
In that respect Ward's novel differed from what I remember about the other Star Trek novels I've read in the past. They seemed so much simpler than Ward's book, with the focus on their focus on the things that matter most in a novel, namely characters and plot. They may not have been on the level of Tolstoy, but they certainly were a cut above Ward's effort.
It was while contemplating this a realization dawned on me: I should go back and read the original Star Trek novels. I remember vividly the Pocket Books series they published when I was growing up, and while I didn't read most of them the ones I did I enjoyed. Whether nostalgia is tingeing this is an open question, and one that I suspect will be answered easily enough once I delve into them, but I suspect not. The early novels were written by SF writers who knew their trade well, and who also had the advantage of writing something that was truly fresh in terms of something for Star Trek. Tomorrow I will make a stop at my local used bookstore and see which books in the series they have on their shelves. It should be a fun exercise!