This week I decided to review The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan by Jack Campbell.
The story begins with the Alliance fleet led by Admiral John Geary pursuing the AI-controlled fleet which was prepared by the Alliance to stop Geary if he tried to launch a military coup. Unfortunately, it has now gone out of control and is attacking any spacecraft or stations it can find. After narrowly averting an attack on an Alliance base, Geary takes some time to repair and refit his fleet while trying to provide the patches that will eliminate the government-installed computer code which prevents Alliance ship sensors from seeing the AI warships, only to find his efforts hindered by a lack of funding and rogue government agents determined to keep the Alliance navy blind to the rogue forces.
When Geary receives a distress call from a ship fleeing a nearby system blockaded by the machine fleet, he senses a trap and, after evading an ambush by taking a less direct route to the system, a running battle begins which the Alliance fleet eventually wins by draining the fuel supply of the enemy warships until they are forced to return to their base. While this severely drains the Alliance’s own resources, it leads Geary to the idea of defeating the enemy by destroying their supply and repair base before draining them of fuel.
This leads to an effort to locate the base, which is discovered to be Unity Alternate, a fallback position in case the Alliance capital of Unity fell during the recently ended war with the Syndicated Worlds, and that the AI feet was originally part of that worst case scenario contingency plan. In time, Geary realizes that the Dancers, so far the only friendly aliens the Alliance has encountered, have been trying to point out the base’s location to him and soon the Dancers, who have had very bad experiences with AI-controlled military units of their own, send a fleet to join the Alliance force. But communications with the Dancers are still difficult and grow more so when it is realized that they have been talking to the Dancers in the equivalent of the grammar used by young Dancer children and need to somehow form their messages as poems or songs to speak properly with them. But the fleet must also find a means to access Unity Alternate, and when they reach it, there will be many surprises waiting for them…
I give this book 9 out of 10. Watching the characters deal with the variety of problems with fighting a fleet that pound-for-pound outclassed them, as was watching Geary continue to struggle with fighting an enemy modeled after himself that has fresh ships which can travel faster and hit harder the Geary’s, while many of Geary’s ships are outdated and his funding and supply stockpiles at critical levels. The battle sequences were very well done and I thought the communication with the Dancers side-plot was handled well. The ending had many surprises and while I am a little sad that the main Lost Fleet series is going on hiatus, this was a great book to wrap the current plot on.