Thursday, July 2, 2015

James Review -- The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast

This week I decided to review The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast by Jack Campbell. The story opens with Admiral John Geary, along with his flag captain and wife Tanya Desjani, are visiting various famous locations on Earth, including Stonehenge, still famous for its stones but also now a monument to a battle that has become local legend. The night after visiting Stonehenge, they are warned that they have been targeted for assassination and hurry to the Battlecruiser Dauntless, but en route, a group of stealth ships approaches their shuttle, and due to extreme restrictions on when Earth-flagged vessels or craft visiting Earth are allowed to open fire, they have to be creative and use their flagship’s shields to defeat the enemy. But soon it is discovered that two officers failed to return to the ship. A hunt reveals a stealth vessel fleeing Earth, but when the Dauntless and local forces move to capture the kidnapper’s vessel, a bad situation becomes a nightmare when the kidnappers pierce the Europa blockade.

In ancient times, a bioweapons lab on Europa suffered a containment breach, unleashing a deadly and still active bacteria. By law, any ship that lands on Europa must be destroyed, and Geary and his staff struggle to find a way to rescue their personnel without breaking the quarantine. Then, after returning to the Alliance where Geary’s forces are struggling to find the resources to maintain the fleet with budget cuts and many ships older than their planned service spans, Geary finds that his niece, who he left in command of the main fleet while he journeyed to Sol, has been sent on a mission and a known hot head put in her place, a sign that some in the Alliance leadership are seeking a provocation and cause to turn against and destroy the fleet. Geary is soon sent to lead a small detachment to deal with a fleet of former Syndic citizens fleeing the revolutionary government in their home system. And when Geary escorts them back, he must fight a force containing a vessel more powerful then any ship in his command.  Then, after returning to the fleet, Geary escorts the Dancers to the edge of Human space. But on the way back, the Alliance fleet discovers an unknown fleet devastating Syndic systems and targeting military and civilian vessels of any government indiscriminately. This fleet is newer and equipped with faster and more heavily armed vessels then the Alliance, but even more dangerous is its commander, an enemy Geary could never imagine who knows the admiral almost as well as he knows himself.

I give this book a 9 out of 10. While the opening wasn’t great, it did have some excellent foreshadowing of events to come without revealing too much. There was also some nice humor scenes, and the self-defense laws in Earth space are so ludicrous that I find them hilarious even as I feel bad for the characters stuck following them. Also with the severe degradation in tactical training that occurred during the hundred-year war between Alliance and Syndics, and despite many commanders on both sides trying to relearn tactics as fast as they can (which Geary slept through mostly), this may be the first time Geary has faced a commander on his level of tactical knowledge since taking command of the fleet at the beginning of the original Lost Fleet series. I think this is the best book of the series so far and can’t wait to see where things go next, and how the events of this book will impact and shape events in the Lost Stars series which shares the setting.

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