This week I decided to review The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear by Jack Campbell.
The story begins shortly after the previous book, with General Artur Drakon and President Gwen Iceni, the leaders of the Midway Star system, continuing their rebellion against the Syndicate Worlds and seeking to firm up the new governments in other rebel systems nearby. While scouting Iwa, a neighboring system and potential staging area for future attacks on Midway, the Midway forces discover signs that the alien Enigmas, who manipulated the Syndicate Worlds government into starting a century-long war with the neighboring Alliance that the Enigmas in order to destroy both human powers, might have reached this system.
Previously it was believed Midway was the only human system the Enigmas could reach, but now there are concerns about the possibility of a full scale invasion. Midway sends the heavy cruiser Manticoreon on a diplomatic mission to the nearby pirate warlord Grannaile Imallye But while the mission is en route, Iceni discovers that Imallye is the daughter of a man executed after being framed to cover a higher ranking executive's crimes and turned it by Iceni, who didn't know it was a setup. Manticore is forced to flee narrowly escaping a vengeful Imallye's flagship. The mission also discovers that Iwa has been overrun by the Engimas with the entire human population, other then a handful of soldiers, killed. Midway begins planning an assault to destroy the new Enigma base in the system with President Iceni personally leading the fleet, but when the strike force arrives it finds three forces waiting: a Syndicate force sent to reclaim the system, Enigma defenders and Imallye's fleet. This leaves Iceni's task force facing multiple hostile fleets even as the few ships left to guard Midway find themselves facing another Syndicate attack force.
There is also a plot dealing with the relationship between Drakon and Iceni as they become romantically involved while each has to face attacks launched by the other's renegade former aide with a rogue former aide, Mehmet Togo for Iceni and Colonel Roh Morgan for Drakon who is loyal to their former superior but sees the other member of the leadership duo as an obstacle to be eliminated to allow the person they support to rule alone.
I give this book 9 out of 10. While I still prefer the larger battle scenes from the main Lost Fleet series and its Beyond the Frontier successor I think this book had the best battles of this series. However, I wish the plotline dealing with the renegade aides had gotten more attention. In particular I think some sections from the points of view of Togo and Morgan would have added a lot to that part of the story. While this book wraps up a number of plot points it leaves some open and I'm curious to see if this is the end of the Lost Stars series or just a point where the author is apparently taking a break like he is from the Lost Fleet series to focus on the new prequel Genesis Fleet books.