Sunday, July 12, 2009

Guest Review! The Lost Fleet: Relentless by Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Relentless by Jack Campbell - guest review by Jim Haley When I reviewed the fourth book in this series, Valiant, I mentioned that this was not really a great place to start the series and that I’d recommend starting with the first book and going through them in order. And while I’d still recommend that for lots of reasons, Jack Campbell has made a lot of attempts to make Relentless (book 5 in this series) as easy to approach for newcomers as it is for veterans. He starts by giving a flashback at the very beginning of the book, showing the reader for the first time how John Geary (the hero of the story) went down with his original ship, and what it was like for him when he first woke up centuries later. This turns out to be a nightmare that John wakes up from, but it lets any reader get caught up on how Geary wound up in his present situation. Between that and some early conversations between John Geary and his command staff and crew, it’s all the reminder I needed to feel like I was back up to speed and ready to see what was next for this fleet of starships trying to fight their way home through enemy territory. Right away we’re told that the fleet is only a few jumps/star systems away from Alliance space (home). That sets a tone of immediacy that never lets up throughout the book. I was constantly wondering, will this be the book where they arrive home? But first John Geary has to deal with two major issues. The first is the conspirator within the fleet who has been acting against him since the very beginning of this series. When one of the co-conspirators leaves behind a message in the case of his untimely death, it leads Geary through a maze of intrigue leading to a Captain he hadn’t suspected. But ultimately, he has prepared the capture of the conspirator well, knowing how crafty the conspirator has been in the past in anticipating any contingencies. Even though I felt the reveal of the traitor wasn’t a big enough shock (basically it’s a character that has only been mentioned once before) I thought the plan that Geary put in place and then executed to catch them in the act was well done and kept me on the edge of my seat. But more so than even that, was the revelation that the Syndics (the human enemy they have been fighting this whole time) have a backup fleet – about the same size as Geary’s original fleet (before it was reduced to where it is now after all the fighting they’ve done against the Syndic primary fleet through books 1-4). This was an unexpected twist, and one I had no idea how Geary would be able to overcome these odds. And that’s where I’ll leave you hanging as well. Will John Geary sacrifice the rest of the fleet to ensure the safety of the Dauntless, the flagship and perhaps the key to winning the entire war (for it carries a Hypernet key which allows the Alliance access to the hypernet gates in Syndic territory – instant access to any Syndic planet for the rest of the Alliance fleet)? Or can he pull another trick out of his hat and beat the Syndic backup fleet? And what of the alien threat that the Syndic backup fleet was keeping at bay? And will Geary actually get any of his ships home? As I’ve said before, this is Space Opera (with a Military angle) at its best, and I highly recommend the series to anyone who enjoyed the recent Battlestar Galactica series or the Master & Commander movie.

Guest reviewer Jim Haley is a regular contributor to the Star Wars fan site www.njoe.com. His regular weekly column is featured each Friday, featuring news and reviews of non-Star Wars books by Star Wars authors, as well as other media tie-in fiction. His latest column, a review of The New Space Opera 2 can be found here. (hotlink: http://www.njoe.com/2009/07/03/a-galaxy-not-so-far-away-vol-12-the-new-space-opera-2/ )

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