I am a fan of Peter David's writing (particularly his "Babylon 5" novels) and of the new "Battlestar Galactica." I think "Sagittarius Is Bleeding" is the best novel about the "new" Galactica crew so far. But there isn't much competition for that honor. As a fan, though, I didn't feel that this novel was up to David's usual standards or the very high standards seen in most of the episodes of the new BSG.
The novel is set in the latter half of season 2 of the new "Battlestar Galactica," after the death of Pegasus' Commander Fisk (in "Black Market") but before the death of Pegasus' Commander Garner (in "The Captain's Hand"). A group calling themselves the Midguardians, whose religion is based in what we call Norse mythology, want seperate status as a colony. They petition their representative, Tom Zarek, to speak to the President on their behalf. Then a lawyer, also a Midguardian, attempts to represent the pregnant Cylon (Sharon "Boomer" Valerii) in Galactica's brig and obtain her freedom.
I found some inconsistencies and outright errors in the text (which may be the editor's fault more than anyone else's). For example, Baltar's Cylon detector is referred to by Number Six as being a sham. Yet that same detector clearly identified Cylon Sharon in season one. I thought some of the characterizations were dead on--like President Roslin--and others--like Doctor Baltar--were a bit heavy-handed and overdone. I agree with some of the other reviewers that this novel takes a very long time to get to the point and is often repetitive along the way.
"Sagittarius Is Bleeding" also makes two large dents in the continuity of the show. The first regards someone else "seeing" the vision of Number Six that torments/arouses Dr. Baltar. Since the creators of the show haven't revealed exactly why Baltar sees her, having someone else comfirm her presence as something other than a delusion is not a good idea. The second regards the (rather lame) ending, where it is implied that a certain character is actually a Cylon. While this person may eventually be revealed as a Cylon on the show (though I can't imagine why), it seems premature to do so in a tie-in novel.
I was not thrilled about the return of Boxey. I'm aware he was much beloved in the original series, but I wasn't sad to see him disappear after the first couple of episodes in season one of the new BSG. I'm not a fan of kids in sci-fi in general. Having them in a gritty drama like what BSG has become seems to be asking for trouble.
I'd say one of the best scenes in the novel is Sharon "obtaining information" from her lawyer when things with the Midguardians reach a boiling point. We don't get to see the Cylons cut loose very often, especially one as "human" as Sharon seems to be.
Watch for a fun allusion by Admiral Adama to the character Edward James Olmos (who plays Adama on the TV show) played in the sci-fi classic "Blade Runner."
Tom Zarek (since he's played by Richard Hatch, the "original" Apollo) will always be a popular character in the show's mythology. He has appeared in both original "new" BSG novels so far. In this case, he acts much as we have seen him--as a shady yet charismatic leader with enough decency to keep him from being an outright villain. And, speaking of villains, D'anna Biers (the Cylon played by Lucy Lawless) makes a welcome appearance as an instigator who nearly dooms the fleet without the help of the distraction provided by the Midguardians.
Despite the problems I see in it, I think that David's novel deals with some important issues in the BSG universe. For example, the questions about the "side effects" from the miraculous blood transfusion (from Sharon's Cylon-human hybrid baby) that saved President Roslin's life. The "human rights" questions about Sharon's "secret" confinement aboard Galactica were also important to address. A scene near the end of the novel between Roslin and Sharon (in a dangerous yet idyllic setting) was long overdue in regards to dicussing the transfusion.
Sadly, the plot involving the Midguardians is the weakest area of the novel. The Midguardians and their conspiracy isn't a terrible idea, but it's one that never seems to gel with the existing plotlines from the TV show that David delves into. Without the Midguardians, a much shorter and better novel would have resulted.
"Sagittarius Is Bleeding" is not a bad novel. There are good scenes and plotlines in it. Yet there are enough bad (or at least unnecessary) scenes and plotlines to somewhat bury the good ones. This novel was a decent read and didn't disappoint me the way "The Cylons' Secret" did. But I suspect people who are avid fans of the show won't find "Sagittarius Is Bleeding" anywhere near as satisfying as the series itself. Then again, those who find the TV show too grim and dark might prefer this lighter fare.