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 ..Show More »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 Lost Stars Perilous Shield was another wonderful Jack Campbell/Hemry novel - riveting, full of action, and with the characters we've come to know ..Show More »and love (even if they were once syndics!). The first half details the back story on several events occurring in the Lost Fleet: Guardian - it was great to see how it all transpired from a different perspective though admittedly some of the impetus was lost since we knew the results.
All the good Jack Campbell trademarks are here - those great space battles and machinations, traveling through gates (very little takes place on Midway planet this time), and high stakes action. Some of the weaknesses are there as well - women are still screechy, over emotional wrecks next to their calm, easily seduced, and bemused male counterparts. And yes, there is still a lot of political commentary here that can be very thinly veiled metaphors for 20th century world politics. But honestly, Jack Campbell is to military sci fi what Tom Clancy was to military fiction - one of the best out there. So I'm going to cut slack here on the above simply because I love everything else about the books.
In Perilous Shield, Midway is still teetering - CEO Boyens waits to swoop down and retake Midway once the Alliance Fleet leaves. As well, Commander Bradamont, Alliance Liason to the planet, will find herself thick in the middle of the very dangerous arena of a former syndic world - will she survive long enough to help Iceni and Drakon find the resources they need to protect Midway? Meanwhile, assistants Togo, Morgan, and Malen have secrets of their own that may end up destroying their bosses.
I am constantly surprised at where Jack Campbell can take these books and especially love that Perilous Shield had so much space action. The one thing that kept this from being a 5 star book for me was the ending (a cliffhanger for the next book in the series) which ended up playing out too much like an overwrought Mexican Telenovela soap opera. I think it would have worked better in the middle of the book rather than being the random punctuation on an otherwise wonderful read.
Greatly looking forward to the next in the series.