I got this at the same time as the two Enterprise Romulan War novels, but it was written noticeably before those. Those were done in 2009-11, after Star Trek: Enterprise was off the air and a lot more had been established. This was published as the series was getting going, and was written before that, and isn’t directly tied to it at all.

Apparently, it began as a serial, apparently appearing in the backs of the then-monthly publishing of Star Trek books at Pocket. So, the chapters are almost a sequence of short stories (the plot unifies as it goes on), that have been collected together. It also has its own cast of characters, and doesn’t lean on existing ones at all other than Dax.

As such, it has been somewhat overcome by events, though the concept is still a sound one, and you can change some details to save the general plot. The book covers the end of the Earth-Romulan war (which looks a lot different than in the later novels). Earth remains committed to strengthening ties to its other neighbors after the war (this is consistent), and wants to found a new fleet that everyone will be part of. Naturally, lead by humans, because it’s all their idea, but they’re trying to get as many aliens into the Federation and Starfleet as possible.

The real plot begins about a third of the way through with the idea that Starfleet is beginning with six ships taken from Earth Command, and soon, the first ship of a brand-new class, USS Daedalus (that’s her on the cover), will be commissioned and given to one of those six. These six captains fall into two rough camps, with external champions of each faction wanting to decide the direction of the new organization.

On one side are people from Earth Command, who see it purely as a regular military defense fleet, dedicated to nothing more or less than the defense of the new Federation. They derisively call the other captains ‘butterfly catchers’, who are backed by people who want to take the opportunity to explore, chart dangerous anomalies, and make scientific discoveries.

The bulk of the novel deals with the internal tensions of the new Starfleet from the point of view of the captains. It’s a good enough premise, and decently done in classic Star Trek action format. There were originally plans to do seven years of the beginnings of Starfleet, and I think with Enterprise to build off of now, it could still be a good idea to return to.