(3.5 stars out of 5, but rounding up)
Let me start off by saying that Brinksmanship is likely the last of the Typhon Pact books. Take that however you will. Personally, I have enjoyed the slower, Cold War-esque feel to the series. That's just me, though.
I'll start off with the pros:
First off, I have no idea what on Earth people are talking about a lack of character development. We once again get to see Ezri as a strong captain, far removed from the awkward counselor of the Seventh Season of DS9. She not only is Captain of the USS Aventine, she is the master of it. She wields her position like a sword, just as well as in Zero Sum Game. (Anyone who disputes this, please read where they destroy the feux-Vesta-Class) Crusher also gets to play a rather prominent role, rather than being the "oh, there's a medical problem. Hey Doc!" which has become her norm. We also see her and Picard considering their future with their child, Rene. They are pushing these characters off and away from the Enterprise slowly but surely, and we will almost definitely see the end of an era come Cold Equations over the next few months.
Also, we get a great look at the Tzenkethi, a species who David R. George spent a great deal of time fleshing out in Rough Beasts, Plagues, and Dawn. They have gotten the most development out of any of the Pact species, and I thoroughly enjoy them. A society that is both beautiful, deadly, and rigid. When I found out this book would be featuring them, I was excited, and I am pleased to say that it held them true. I can easily see how someone would be enthralled with their culture.
Now for the cons...
You may note that I did not mention the Venette at ALL above. There is a reason for that. I hate them. It was a species created specifically for this book and it did not work in the slightest. They were once again this overly-alien species with no solid development. They will also likely never be mentioned again. If they are, God help us. I get that they needed a villain of sorts, or however you want to categorize them, to fit the role, but the Venette were simply terrible. They should have just made this one about the Tzenkethi and left it at that.
WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND (or out):
This could have gone from a good story to a great story by adding about another 30 pages of material. President Bacco was given literally just a couple of pages, as another reviewer stated. This annoys me. She has been very prevalent in all of the Pact books thus far because of the immense political intrigue that is taking place right now. But no... the most important figure in the Federation is given mere paragraphs to talk about what is going on. Also, would it have killed them to reference the FLIPPING DESTRUCTION OF DEEP SPACE 9?! It was Dax's home for years and oh, nope, she doesn't care, evidently. And... really... the end? Really? I mean... really? THAT was your excuse?
WHAT'S HIS NAME:
The utterly-forgettable friend of Dax's from college. You could take him out of the book and I wouldn't have noticed or cared. It gave us a nice glimpse to see how a more mature Ezri deals with boys she likes, but he could have easily been substituted.
Now, don't let my more-organized take-down of this book give you pause. It is very well written, and Una is one of the best out there. Yes, there are things that annoy me about this, but if you look at the overall arc of how things have developed, it's really a great continuing narrative seen from dozens of different perspectives. If THAT isn't Star Trek, I don't know what is.
The Typhon Pact series has dealt with subterfuge, alien cultures, the lives of characters we love, political intrigue... Yes, it may be slower at times, but learning about the Breen, the Gorn, and the Tzenkethi has been well worth it.
It's okay if you have a spare afternoon. Venette sucks, Dax is kinda awesome, Tzenkethi... woo. TP has a whole: 4/5