I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
I remember when the author first announced his signing a deal for two spinoff series to follow The Lost Fleet about three years ago. Since then, Lost Fleet has come to a close and Beyond the Frontier has been through two volumes, and what was originally referred to as The Phoenix Stars has just seen the light of day.
As the first reviewer notes, this book adds little to the Lost Fleet narrative, but succeeds quite well at expanding the universe through which the Alliance Fleet has rampaged since Dauntless's publication half a decade ago. The Lost Fleet was the author's third series, and the fact that its characters and geography have made it into further stories beyond the Alliance Fleet's escape from Syndic space is a wonderful thing, even if at first blush that is only to add greater depth to the snapshots of life in one system through which the Alliance fleet has passed through in the last three Lost Fleet novels.
Though it is technically the beginning of a new series, Tarnished Knight leans heavily upon the original Lost Fleet series and its continuation, Beyond the Frontier. The events in the Midway star system occur after those depicted in Dreadnaught.
This entry features more space battles and ground combat from the Syndic perspective, as the Midway system battles various internal and external threats. But where the Lost Fleet series proper often turns on fleet politics and combat logistics, Lost Stars deals with the aftermath of revolution and the tenuous balance maintained by two strong leaders with complementary power bases, who both need one another and have the means to bring about the other's undoing. The problem is that we already have the outlines of this story by virtue of the glimpses we've received through Dreadnaught and Invincible, thought it can be interesting to see just how things came to change between visits. Meanwhile, the author dangles the prospect of further developments in Alliance space in the next Beyond the Frontier entry, titled Guardian and due next year as usual.
The perspective of this story is a bit different given that there are two point of view characters. The author maintains a style similar to Lost Fleet though, with great tactical details, scheming, and occasional humorous interludes.
Mark Vietor is terrific as always. For those who have come to associate the voice of Christian Rummel with this universe though, be prepared for slightly varied pronunciation of some character and place names. My wish that Rummel would have been tapped for this series is the only reason for four stars as far as the performance goes.
I can't imagine why one would read this without having read the eight Lost Fleet and Beyond the Frontier books first. If you have though, I think you'll find enough of what made those stories winners to satisfy with this new slant to the universe. Little gems about the Syndic way of doing things like the one referenced in the title are almost worth the price of admission alone.
The story is almost as engaging as the Lost Fleet books. However, if one hasn't read the Lost Fleet books the story and setting could be a little confusing. Marc Vietor's performance was good but not great; at times it was hard to distinguish the different characters. Christian Rummel has a much larger range of character voices and I wish he were narrating the Lost Stars as well. Overall a good beginning to another series of books from Mr. Hemry.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I got hooked on The Lost Fleet and then Beyond the Frontier Series and now a new great sub series about the Midway Star system. The story picks up with life on Midway after Geary leaves Midway into the unknown space to explore it. The Midway Star System has declared independence from the Syndic and are forming a new government and alliances of neighbouring star systems. Jack Campbell's usual great space battles, intrigue between different groups all goes into creating action, suspense and the ending leaves me wanting the next volume in the series. If you like the other two series you will enjoy this new one.
What a great spinoff concept. Prior to this book the Syndicate, controlled by nefarious CEO's, were nothing more than relative stick figures. In this case we get to delve deeper into Syndicate society in the post-Geary age. The main characters were tangentially introduced in the main series, but now we have a chance to see the desperate fight of the leadership of Midway to separate themselves from the central control of the Syndicate.
This is much more of a political novel than the Lost Fleet books. Yes, there is space combat as well as ground combat, but a lot of the book is devoted to the truly twisted political realm of the CEO's, where you cannot trust anyone. Even though they must work together to wring a small hole of safety for both themselves and the people of Midway, the sheer level of scheming is intense (where every move is never taken at face value and no one is what they seem to be). But the two leaders, Drakon and Iceni, seem to see the value of cooperation and realize that the system that they were born into needs to be changed (but realizing that it cannot be done overnight).
A very solid book and I very much look forward to the next (with a cliffhanger like Jack dropped at the end of the book, it is a given that there needs to be another book).
I wouldn't consider this a standalone - and ideally you'll read it between Dreadnought and Invincible since it takes place during the middle of Invincible.
It gives the perspective of the Syndicate World that wants to break free - and the two main characters, Iceni and Drakon, are both emboldened by but also hampered by their Syndicate upbringing. It's a fun read to see them battle their own nature to do what's right for their people.
The characters aren't carbon copies of the Alliance counterparts. They will sleep with subordinates or assasinate rivals. But at the same time, this really does have a smart set of supporting characters that are very real in their own right.
This book really is the best of both worlds - more Jack Campbell goodness but NOT a carbon copy of previous characters in the series. Refreshingly, this includes both ground based battles and space battles.
I'm a manager of a lawncare crew that listens to audio books when feasible. I have 2 years of business and 3 towards a history degree.
Intriguing Alternative Perspective
I won't state one so I don't spoil anything, but in general, my favorite scene were when the main characters were trying to figure out each others angles and if the other could be trusted.
The book is similar to what the fall of the USSR was like for people. Russian's lives were dominated by government their whole lives, and once it fell, they had freedoms but didn't know what to do with them. Take the make characters as Ukrainians that have just left the USSR but have to fear Russia's heavy handed tactics that are not limited to economic or political aggression.
I just want to applaud Jack Campbell for expanding his Lost Fleet universe in this direction. I've always been a sucker for the reluctant hero, and in this story you get 2. The portrayal of CEO Drakon and Iceni as they try to survive the downfall of the Syndicate Worlds and in the process become heroes that you can easily identify with is truly an enjoyable experience. The plot line, of course parallels the story of the Lost Fleet series but from the other side. This makes the events in the last couple books in the Lost Fleet series much more understandable. The action is great, as always with Jack Campbell, but it is the twists and turns and intrigue that really draws you in. I also liked the fact that Jack Campbell portrays his Heroes with all their warts and how they struggle, inspite of them, to make a better world. So if you liked the Lost Fleet Series you're definitely going to like this book.
Syndicate learn trust
New characters with muddled values create intriguing relationships that keep you hooked.
Good pacing and clear.
Never trust and always verify.
The Tarnished Knight is an offshoot of Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series. Anyone who was at all curious about the Syndicate Worlds will enjoy this new perspective which follows CEOs Artur Drakon and Gwen Iceni in their bid for power. Neither trusts the other, but must rely on faith when facing their more ruthless advisories... the ISS Snakes who want Midway to remain under Syndicate rule.
For those who aren't familiar with the series: I believe you will still enjoy the book, but may have a steep learning curve as there are many reference to the prior books. Listening to the Lost Fleet series definitely enhances this story.
My only dissatisfaction is that this book ends in a cliff-hanger, but the next volume isn't released until October 2013 :(