I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
John “Black Jack” Geary’s escape pod has just been rescued from deep space. He’s been in cold-sleep for a century after he single-handedly held off enemy spaceships while letting the rest of the Alliance fleet escape. Everyone thought he was dead, but his brave sacrifice went down in the history books and many people still whisper that Black Jack Geary will come back to save the Alliance in a time of great need. And so he has… or at least that’s what many soldiers of the Alliance believe. Geary himself is bewildered to learn that not only is he alive, but that his one famous deed was exaggerated and now he’s a hero of legend. All he really feels like doing is grieving over the loved ones he left behind a century ago. But duty calls.
Now Geary finds himself again trying to save the Alliance fleet. They’re still fighting the Syndicate Worlds — the same enemies they’ve been fighting since Geary’s time — and they’re stuck in enemy territory with damaged ships. They’re also carrying a stolen key to one of the Syndics’ hypernets — a tool which could help them finally win the war. Can Geary get the fleet and the key back home safely?
Well, that’s a hard enough task for any fleet commander. What makes it even harder for John Geary is that this modern Alliance fleet is far different from the one he knew before. The technology has advanced enormously (Geary doesn’t even know what a hypernet is!), but what has changed even more is the structure of the military. Geary lived in a time when the military was well-trained and the leaders gave orders which their subordinates obeyed. But because of the devastating losses the Alliance has suffered over the past several decades, younger commanders have had to step up. They lack skills and experience and the military is now run more like a democracy than a hierarchy, with commanders discussing and voting during meetings instead of receiving and following orders from superiors. Black Jack Geary’s own legendary exploit is also a factor in this decline — his heroic status has caused many ship commanders to try to seek their own glory. Geary recognizes that all of this is bad for the Alliance Worlds, but changing an entire military organization may be too much for one man. Unless that man is a legendary hero who has returned to set his people free…
Dauntless, the first book in Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series is highly entertaining space opera. Black Jack Geary makes a great reluctant hero. He’s smart and experienced, but 100 years behind in his understanding of technology. He has a disadvantage when he has to rely on others to help him understand and navigate his controls, but his old battle tactics, which rely on careful fleet coordination rather than personal glory-seeking, are an advantage. Not only are they better for the fleet as a whole, but they confound the enemy who is now unable to predict what the Alliance forces will do.
I didn’t much care for the other characters in Dauntless, but I enjoyed the story enough that I didn’t mind. One thing that sets this series apart from other space opera is Campbell’s attempt to deal with the problem of relativity in a war that spans so much space. For example, if your computer is reporting the location of an enemy that’s lightminutes away from you, they are no longer in that location when you get the report. This distortion has a lot of implications, especially when you’re trying to shoot the enemy and the enemy is trying to shoot you. Campbell’s constant reminders about this get tedious, but I appreciated that he tried to deal with this problem that’s too often ignored.
I listened to Audible Frontier’s production of Dauntless. Christian Rummel was a perfect narrator and I thought the voice and tone he used for Black Jack was a perfect reflection of Geary’s humble but confident personality. After listening to Dauntless, I immediately downloaded book 2, Fearless. THE LOST FLEET looks like it’s going to be a good series.
Jack Campbell is a pseudonym for author John G. Hemry who writes other military science fiction under his real name. He’s a retired Navy officer.
I enjoyed the first two of these books but I'm declining to read the third. They bid fair for becoming as endless Robert Jordan's "The Eye of the World" series. I liked the first couple of those, too, till I realized that there was never, ever going to be a resolution, as when the goal was accomplished, the series would end.
The Lost Fleet plots were entertaining. If you don't mind the endless repetitive permutations necessary to this sort of series and the suspicion that nothing's actually ever going to happen because the goal of getting home will be the end of the series, go for it.
Be nice if Campbell could take a tip from Bujold and Forester, and give the captain a mission, let him perform it and send him out on another one, as he battles to form the fleet into a real honest-to-god fighting Navy.
Got to say that Campbell's onto a good thing, here, professionally. But eventually he'll figure out why Arthur Conan Doyle tried to kill off Sherlock.
Anyone who enjoys being lectured endlessly about military regulations while fantasizing that they are an average minded adult in a universe full of toddlers.
No. I am a fan of this genre, but this author is the Terry Goodkind of this genre. The universe is completely derivative and the characters are so two dimensional and undeveloped that it is hard for the reader to care what happens to them.
Christian Rummel's narration made it possible for me to finish the book. If I had tried to read this as a paperback, I would have donated it about 1/3 of the way through.
The repetitive internal moralizing of the main character could have been cut down by 80% and been more effective. This would have freed up enormous amounts of space for the development of other characters.
Just don't do it.
I'm always leary about starting a new book that's a part of the a series. You have to go back to the beginning to understand some of the complexities of what's going on and that means that you don't read the book that's most current and about which people are talking. Well, I'm glad I started this series because the first book in it (Dauntless) has been great. One of the messages of this story is that just because something is old, that doesn't make it bad. In the case of this book, only John (Blackjack) Geary has the ability to see that his society has, to some degree, taken on the dispicable attributes of the enemy they have been fighting for 100 years. It appears that no one else can see this because they have a vision of the past that is distorted by myth and legend. Geary as a character shows his humanity and his abhorrence of the inaccurate legend that has come to reprepresent him. The book is about leadership that is ethical and humane as much as it is about cool and seemingly well-research science. A great read.
I love a good war story, even a good fight in space, but this book is just dull. The storyline is flat, just a plain old good guys running from bad guys story. I kept waiting for more - a backstory, a twist, but it never came. And the main character is nearly one dimensional.
The narration is really poor. Female voices are high pitched and with a terrible sort of faux-British accent. It made them unaccessible and hard to differentiate.
Sadly, this is just not a good book - not worth the credit at all.
This story could be told in one or two books. the story development is repetative with the same phrases and concepts repeated over and over in each book. Plot development is at a snails pace and appears just to be bait to get you to the next book....and there are lots of books in this series. The characters are shallow and do not appear to grow. The story line is interesting but does not deserve this kind of drawn out production. Since I started the series I have given up after 3 books but might by the last book just the close out the story line
last book in series, maybe
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Was searching around Audibles database looking for a good Sci Fi series to read. Saw the Lost Fleet and downloaded the first one, "Dauntless". It is great, find it interesting concept for a long thought dead hero to come back and save the fleet. The light year lag in time makes an interesting tactical problem in space warfare. It is nice to see so many women in high ranking roles. Downloading the next in the series. It is great that Audible has the entire series so I can listen in the correct order. This is my first Jack Campbell book I will also look for books in his real name John G. Henry.
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This is, without a doubt, one of my least favorite science fiction books. I am sorry, I feel bad saying it, but I honestly feel that this might in fact be ???the??? worst SF book the lot. Now, I???ve read a lot of bad books. I???ve even enjoyed a lot of bad books, but this really just rubbed me the wrong way. Tedious and predicable internal monologue; I could have been fine with it in some cartoonish way, but the seriousness with which this is presented gals me. The main character seems to be the only sane character in the galaxy. Sure, this is justified somewhat by the fact that the rest of the human race has spent the last hundred years fighting in a never ending war. But honestly, it still just doesn???t cut it. The sheer, and I shudder to even use the expression, cheesiness of not only the hero worship, but also the stupidity of others does not engender Black Jack Geary to me in the least.
This is another of those novels where instead of making the main character likeable though faults and obstacles and his overcoming these, the author has instead elected to make everyone else as inedible as possible. It is too simple, too cheap and much too little.
That the concept, the idea itself, behind the novel is decent in itself, even good, does not change these facts. The book is just poorly executed, poorly written and unfortunately also poorly read.
I agree with Michael, at times the author repeats himself about lag. Nevertheless, thats sort of the point. Battles on this scale and at these speeds are all about lag and trying to deal with it.
BTW I think the narrator is does a great job.
I enjoyed the book and will read/listen to the next book in series.
I loved this book, and the ones after it in the seriers. It got me hooked in the very first chapter. It is very well crafted with attention to betail, however that detail dosn't slow the story in the slightest. Action packed, and a thrill ride for the mind. A must book for anyone who likes the Miles Vorkosigan seriers by Lois McMaster Bujold, or The Prince Roger McClintock stories by John Ringo.