First off, I’ve got to ask, what’s with these stupid series’ book covers? This is a six book series about Captain Black Jack Geary who is the commander of the Alliance Fleet – Navy – who never leaves his flagship, yet each book features a young man in full battle armor, presumably Marine battle armor, carrying a futuristic weapon in both hands, perhaps something like a pulse rifle or some such thing. Why? It has nothing to do with the books or series? Why would Geary be in battle armor or carrying a rifle of any type? He has no reason to carry any weapon, or to be in battle armor – ever. It’s simply publisher marketing department BS. Why the publisher let the marketing department run with this is beyond me, but it’s a flagrant example of marketing not knowing a damn thing about the product their company is selling and a good reason of why so many company divisions hate their marketing departments so much.
Anyway, this is the fifth book in Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series and in it, Geary is STILL trying to get the Alliance fleet through Syndic space back to Alliance space while evading Syndic fleets if at all possible. Frankly, while well written, it’s gotten a little old and it seems to me that books two through five could have been condensed quite a bit.
In this book, Geary is in a system where they find some Alliance POWs, whom they attempt to liberate, while they find out they’re being hunted by a massive reserve Syndic flotilla, which had been on the other side of the system, presumably to guard Syndic space against alien invasion, a closely guarded secret. And Geary is still facing treasonous elements within his own fleet, in this case, people willing to kill and blow up his own ships in an effort to stop him. It seems insane and it is, but he’s got to find it and stop it and them now.
Meanwhile, Geary is still dealing with the two female leads in this series, which is both interesting and at times, incredibly annoying. His flagship captain and his Alliance co-president are at each other’s throats constantly and the sniping gets old fast. Real fast. Of course, he made the mistake of taking the Co-President as a lover early on in this series, which fortunately didn’t last long, but the sexual and romantic tension between Geary and his captain, Desjani, is huge and you can’t help but root for them to one day get over their professional objections and wind up together. Perhaps in the final book….
As always, there’s a lot of action, but I still have problems with the weapons in this book and series. To think that space warships use weapons like GRAPESHOT and electric lances for close quarters combat, which would be physically impossible without blowing each other to hell by hitting each other while passing each other at incredible speeds, is an incredibly ridiculous notion. Ball bearings. In outer space. Holy shit. Seriously? Missiles? Lasers? Grazers? Plasma? Anything? Something futuristic? Not something from 18th century pirates? Please? It’s beyond stupid to think that grapeshot would be used in the, what, 25th, 30th, 35th century for space battles. That said, the tactics are always fun to read about.
This book brings a sense of near closure to the series, without going into too much detail. There’s a lot left, a lot of mystery and intrigue. If and when the fleet makes it back to Alliance space, there’s the question of how Geary will be received by the government. Will fleet elements attempt a government takeover and try to make him dictator? What about the aliens? What about Geary and Tanya? There’s a lot to cover in the final book. It’s something to look forward to. I’ve actually already read it, so I know how everything ends, but I’m not going to spoil it in this review. I still have to review the final book itself. Suffice it to say that even though there’s some redundancy in this book, it’s pretty good and worth the read – if you’re reading the series. If not, it’s not a standalone book. Start with the first one and go forward from there. Four stars. Recommended.