This is the sixth novel in Baker's 'The Company' series, not counting the short story collection 'Black Projects, White Knights" (which I'll probably read next). At this point, I'd have to say this does not work as a stand-alone novel. To enjoy this book, you really have to know what came before, and be interested in what's eventually going to happen (in the 24th century). I did enjoy the book - but because I do really like this series. Mainly, it forwards the growing concepts the The Company is more and more corrupt than we initially guessed, and rebellion is fomenting among some powerful parties. The story mostly has to do with a secret genetic experiment to cross the mysterious troglodyte race mentioned in previous novels with humans - but at this point in the saga, there's a lot of different characters and elements, and bringing them all in and forward doesn't make for an extremely cohesive plot. But - I've still really got to get the last two book in the series!