Review: Guardian by Jack Campbell

Guardian (Beyond the Frontier #3) by Jack Campbell

Guardian by Jack Campbell marks the first of the Lost Fleet books that I’ve read in print (the rest I’ve listened to on audio) and it was an interesting experience. Insofar as I could tell the digital galley sent to me by the publisher was a pdf or at least a very very poorly formatted mobi file. This is a fact that is inconsequential as far as the novel’s content goes but certainly makes a big difference in my enjoyment of the reading experience. The formatting wasn’t too horrible however and I speed through the novel at lightning speed. Audiobooks have the benefit of control the rate at which I consume (assuming I don’t want to increase the playback speed) fiction, however they also have the benefit of allowing me to enjoy a book a can’t put down while actually doing other things. Reading Guardian in print definitely saw my attention to other responsibilities greatly lessened as I wanted to know what was going to happen next with an almost feverish desire.

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Review: Tarnished Knight (Lost Stars) by Jack Campbell

Tarnished Knight (The Lost Stars)
Jack Campbell
Audible Frontiers, 2012

Tarnished Knight  marks the first book outside of Jack Campbell’s two Lost Fleet series. Part of a new subseries entitled The Lost StarsThe Tarnished Knight, is Campbells first work to feature protagonists not from the Alliance worlds. Picking just before the Alliance fleet arrives in the Midway star system (I believe it was in Dreadnaught) this novel features two former Syndicate CEOs Artur Drakon, and Gwen Iceni. The two CEOs, having formed a tenuous alliance, have hatched a plan to overthrow the Syndicate security forces in their system and take control of Midway. Assuming you’ve read Dreadnaught you know that their initial coup succeeds but Tarnished Knight delves deeper into the shaky alliance between these two individuals and the actions they had to take to ensure the safety of the people of Midway and the strength of their own positions.

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Review: Invincible by Jack Campbell

Invincible by Jack Campbell
Invincible by Jack Campbell

Invincible (Beyond the Frontier #2)
Jack Campbell
Ace, 2012

A new Jack Campbell book is a drop everything and read, or in my case listen, affair. I have never been less than satisfied with any of the Lost Fleet novels and the most recent book Invincible is no different. For those who haven’t read the previous Lost Fleet series I highly highly recommend you go do so; particularly if you’re a fan of military science fiction. If you’ve read the previous series but haven’t jumped on board for Beyond the Frontier well…something is probably wrong with you and I can’t help. Both parties should be warned that this review will likely spoil both the previous series and the first Beyond the Frontier novel Dreadnaught.

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Review: Dreadnaught (Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) by Jack Campbell

Dreadnaught
Dreadnaught

Dreadnaught (The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier #1)
Jack Campbell
Ace, 2011

OK, I know I skipped the last three volumes of the Lost Fleet series. Maybe I’ll go back and post some lengthier reviews but right now I will press onwards. If you haven’t read the first Lost Fleet series be aware that there will be some spoilers for that series in this review. That there is a second series is likely, on some level a spoiler, in and of itself. So, if you’ve just started to read The Lost Fleet or if you intend to read The Lost Fleet: be warned!

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Review: Courageous (the Lost Fleet book 3)

Courageous by Jack Campbell
Courageous by Jack Campbell

Courageous (Lost Fleet 3)
Jack Campbell, read by Christian Rummel
Audible Frontiers, 2008

I’m keeping this short.  Mostly because listening to the audio versions of these books in such quick session has made it increasingly difficult to keep separate what happened when but also because the novels follow a similar structure with the relative strengths and weaknesses of Campbell’s writing remain consistent.  With a successful raid of the Sanseer star system John “Black Jack” Geary turns the Alliance Fleet towards the Lakota star system.  It’s seems however that Geary has used up all of his luck in previous engagements as an overwhelming Syndic forces soon begin appearing in system.  Courageous marks the first time that the Alliance faced such an overwhelming force despite its desperate trek back home.

Campbell really kicks the action up a notch in Courageous.  With its back to the wall the Alliance fleet displays some extraordinarily impressive skills.  Despite the difficulties of relative time Campbell manages to convey an active and exciting engagement and his descriptions of Geary’s fancy flying and near supernatural ability to time maneuvers perfectly lend an air of grace to the changing formations.  There is last stand moment that while a tried and true element of militaristic fiction still manages to be moving here, particularly Geary’s parting prayer to the elements volunteering for that moment (it reminded me of Rand’s parting words to Ingtar during the flight from Fal Dara in The Great Hunt).

Personal relationships are still a trouble to Geary.  Discoveries from the Alliance POW lists in the previous volumes send Vice President Rione into a dangerous emotional spiral.  I do have a certain fondness for the hard-as-nails politician but more and more she scares me (and I think Geary).  This remains one of the few times we get to see the emotional side of Victoria Rione and gives just a bare hint to the person buried beneath the icy exterior.  Not only does this help provide information on her own state of mind and character but it also offers a clue to how the mindset of the Alliance populace has shifted away from Geary’s own time.

Of course bad luck isn’t really the whole story regarding the disastrous events in the Lakota star system and once our hero has had a minute to evaluate the intelligence garnered from Syndic transmission I dare say that the revelations reveal a situation much worse than bad luck.  The final pages of the novel are, unfortunately, a cliffhanger.  Not so terrible when the next volume is readily available but I can see how it might have frustrated readers when the novel was first released.  I found that Courageous focused more strongly on the action elements of the Lost Fleet series and this left the novel feeling a bit shorter than the rest; particularly when combined with the cliffhanger.  Regardless, The Lost Fleet is some of the best military science fiction I’ve had the pleasure to read (or listen to) in a log time and I am hungrily making my way through the 5th volume in the series.

Review: Fearless (Lost Fleet Book 2) by Jack Campbell

Fearless by Jack Campbell
Fearless by Jack Campbell

Fearless
Jack Campbell, read by Christian Rummel
Audible Frontiers, 2008
Fearless picks up more or less exactly where Dauntless left off.  Geary is still struggling with the presence of his legendary alter ego “Black Jack” trying to reconcile who he is now not only with who he used be but with who and what others expect him to be.  Geary’s age and “man out of time” status is again at the forefront here though spun slightly different than in Dauntless.  In the first novel Geary was focused mostly on coming to grips with what the Alliance fleet had become and how fleet traditions had deviated so far from what he knew in the past.  Fearless however takes things in a more a personal direction.  It doesn’t abandon Geary’s attempts to return the Alliance fleet to the traditions he remembers but a large portion of Fearless tackles Geary’s sense of isolation and, appropriately, fear.

Some spoilers ahead!

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Review: Dauntless (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell (audio)

Lost Fleet: Dauntless
Lost Fleet: Dauntless

The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
Jack Campbell
Audible Frontiers, 2008

Audible Frontiers has so far done a bang up job of producing accessible and quality productions of recent and classic science fiction and fantasy works and their release of Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet: Dauntless is no exception.  One of my favorite things so far is that they often include an introductory note by the author (true for this audiobook and for Mike Resnick’s Starship series) that give a little bit of background information on how the title came about and some of the thematic notions that spurred the authors into writing what they did.  For Dauntless, Campbell explains that one of his inspirations were the notion of ancient heroes and particularly the Ten Thousand.  In terms of the former Campbell focuses his attention on John “Blackjack” Geary.  Geary, who secured a victory in the opening phases of war with the Syndicate was subsequently believed dead.  Flash ahead a century or so and the novel opens with Geary, whose cryochamber has recently been discovered finds himself struggling to adjust to living again.  Of course it’s more than that as those hundred plus years have served to transform what was a simple desperate battle for survival on Geary’s part into something much more mythic and turning the man into a legendary hero. Continue reading “Review: Dauntless (Lost Fleet) by Jack Campbell (audio)”