> (*) How good or to what extent does the book covers the *basics of SOA*- meant to say, without any technology based?
My book does not teach SOA. It teaches how to implement SOA using Java Web Services (JWS). To learn the basics of SOA, I suggest Thomas Erl's book. However, you can read and use my book without prior knowledge of SOA. It is designed to be a guide for programmers and it focuses more on programming issues than architecture issues.
> (*) It seems only SOAP is being covered. Have you given some idea about how to do the same with AXIS as well?
Both SOAP and REST are covered. The platform that I used for writing and testing the examples is the GlassFish reference implementation of Java EE 5 that is bundled with the Sun Java EE 5 JDK. But, you should be able to run the examples on any platform that supports JAX-WS, JAXB, and JSR-181. See this post.
> (*) Would it be okay for a person to start off without having any prior knowledge about WebServices?
Yes, but you should probably read some tutorials on XML Schema and WSDL as you go along with the book.