This week I decided to review The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell.
The story begins with a Syndicate ship carrying Jason Boyens, who once led a Syndicate force that attempted to retake the Midway system, entering the system while President Iceni and General Drakon debate what to do with Colonel Morgan, Drakon’s aide who has proven herself as crazy as she is dangerous and, unkown to anyone but herself and Drakon, the biological mother of the general’s daughter, a daughter Morgan believes will someday rule all of humanity.
Boyens claims that he wishes to defect, and soon after he arrives, a Syndicate fleet does as well, with the fleet being led by an infamous Syndicate security officer. After a battle which nearly sees the Midway fleet’s acting flagship destroyed and a desperate bluff involving the incomplete battleship Midway the badly damaged Syndicate fleet withdraws but then proceeds to bombard a planet in another rebel system.
Drakon convinces Iceni to let him send Morgan, whom he is convinced remains loyal to him despite the insanity of her plans, to scout and sabotage the forces of warlord-controlled Ulindi system as a prelude to a liberation mission led by Drakon . But after the fleet departs Morgan runs into an ambush and Boyens reveals to Iceni that Ulindi is actually still under the control of the Syndicate central government, with its apparent revolt just bait to lure Midway’s forces into a trap.
While Drakon and his ground troops struggle to seize an enemy base while under attack from multiple directions, and then withstand a siege the space forces supporting him must juggle providing assistance to their ground forces and avoiding being pinned in range of the overwhelming enemy fleet.
Meanwhile, back on Midway, Iceni races to assemble a relief force for the Ulindi Expedition while trying to determine how to deal with a population brought to the brink of rioting by rumors spread by an unknown enemy without resorting to the tactics favored by the government she is rebelling against. And there is still the question of what the message left by the friendly alien Dancers means.
I give this book 7 out of 10. The combat scenes are great. However the Morgan sideplot and its status when the book ends were poorly handled in my opinion. Also, when something happens that surprises me in a story, either book or series, I like to go back and re-read the earlier portions searching for clues that I missed the first time. However, there is a major surprise in this book which either came out of nowhere, I somehow missed the clues after reading all the proceeding books three times, or it is such a badly handled cliché, that I wish it had come out of nowhere.