Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Lost Fleet: Fearless, Courageous, Valiant

(cover image from SFReviews.net)

I'm reviewing The Lost Fleet: Fearless (2007), Courageous (2008), and Valiant (2008) by Jack Campbell at the same time, because I read them at the same time. Unfortunately, I have a hard time putting down a book once it grabs me, and this is all one story.

I enjoyed the first book so much that I immediately ordered the next three, and once I started reading, I couldn't stop. Well, I did have enough willpower to save the last volume for the next day, but that was about it.

As I say, this is all one story - 6 volumes in total. (I've got the final two on order now.) In the first book, John "Black Jack" Geary takes command of a fleet of starships in desperate circumstances, after having been in suspended animation for a century. The rest of the story is pretty much one battle after another, as they try to make it back home through enemy territory, badly outnumbered.

If you like military science fiction, you'll like this series. But there's actually more to the plot than just space battles. I noted in my review of Dauntless that the book was thought-provoking. But as the series continues, it turns out that there's more to the plot, too.

They discover that it's not just the corporate dictatorship they're fighting which is behind the war. There's a third party involved which seems to pose a threat not just to their own Alliance, but to the entire human species.

Meanwhile - people being people - they're struggling to get along among themselves. Many of Geary's enemies in the fleet won't change their mind no matter what the evidence indicates. (Yeah, this series seems very relevant to today.) Others pretty well worship Geary as a hero sent by their dead ancestors (though that doesn't necessarily keep them from wanting to use him for their own purposes).

(cover image from Amazon.com)

And then there are the romantic entanglements, which apparently don't hurt any less when death appears likely. No, this isn't a romance, but the characters, though intelligent and dedicated, are fully human. Admittedly, as in the first book, we see people entirely through Geary's eyes, and he only gets to know a couple of them very well at all.

So I really have to wonder how this works in the rest of the fleet. You've got young men and women - in roughly equal numbers apparently (not to mention the openly gay) - who are expecting to die anytime. Many of them do die. Even under ordinary circumstances, they might struggle to keep things professional...

Well, as I say, we don't learn much about the rest of the people in the fleet - and then only from Geary's perspective. Of course, that's not the focus of the series, anyway.

You know the fleet is going to get home. That's obvious. But we don't know how many will make it. They lose ships and they lose people in every battle, even when they're overwhelmingly successful.

It's great stuff, at least if you like this kind of thing. Still, if it were just space battles, the series might get old after awhile. Luckily, as I say, there are other dangers - worse dangers - which they discover along the way (some opportunities, as well). And Geary continues to struggle with being the legendary hero come back to life, when he knows he's only human.

I can't wait for the final two volumes to get here. :)

(cover image from Amazon.com)

PS. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but I must say that the cover art on these paperbacks is terrible - terribly misleading, at least. I assume that the person on the cover is supposed to be John Geary - who else could it be? - but if so, that's pretty ridiculous.

Geary is the acting fleet commander. He hasn't left the flagship, not once, in four books. He's never landed on a planet, and he's never even picked up a weapon. Well, why should he? He's not a marine. (There are marines in the fleet, but their colonel - and the only one we ever see - is a woman.)

I have a feeling that the misleading cover art was one of the reasons I hadn't tried this series previously. But maybe that's a good thing. I would have hated to wait for months between books to continue with the story. At least this way I can read the whole thing at once. (Although maybe that isn't such a good thing. LOL)

Note: My other book reviews are here.

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