walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

_Valiant_, Jack Campbell (kindle)

First of three reviews today, assuming I get to them all.

This latest entry in the Lost Fleet took some number of extra days to become available on the kindle but I successfully waited. (Ditto for the latest Sookie Stackhouse, which will be next).

Campbell is the sf author formerly known as John Hemry. He actually had a military career and when you read his books, it shows -- in a good way. While I think on balance I preferred his JAG in Space books under his own name, the Lost Fleet series is developing nicely. Both series contain numerous women in the military, and in the Lost Fleet at least there's a clear presumption that Gays Are OK, too, which is nice. Set at some unclear point in the future, 100 years into a very evenly matched war with the Syndic worlds, Black Jack Geary has to solve a difficult series of problems.

First and foremost, he had to dig his way out of the emotional and physical hole of having been in cold storage (literally) for that hundred years. Second, he had to assume leadership of the fleet that had been decapitated by a Syndic betrayal during parley in which all senior officers were murdered brutally and simultaneously, leaving ship captains to figure out who should be in charge. He's in charge by dint of seniority of date which he made captain, but people with more years experience aren't happy about that. To worsen matters, the way he (didn't) die(d) has become a motivational legend in the military.

Over the previous few books, he's had to convince this once and future Lost Fleet to quit committing atrocities, quit rushing into battle without a plan, start using some real strategy and subterfuge. He's also had to deal with some mutiny/treason/abandonment, particularly after rescuing a bunch of POWs.

In this latest entry, his enemies have become more desperate and gone somewhat underground. They've taken to framing his closest supporters, attempting to destroy ships in the fleet through malware in the jump system, etc. To compensate, the majority of the fleet is now solidly following him and learning the tactics and strategy he's been trying to pound into them. On-again-off-again lover Rione has moved entirely off-again and the jealousy between her and his flag captain Tanya Desjani is, IMO, overplayed and overwrought. I'm of two minds about the last few pages of the novel. On one level, it made me want to hurl. On another level, it was a pretty convincing version of some of the star-crossed lovers crap characteristic of Japanese fiction/art of a bygone era. Heck, characteristic of some of the star-crossed lovers crap characteristic of Japanese fiction/art NOW. Given the nature of the religion/ethos of this future time, it kinda fits.

Throughout the novel, Geary continues his usual efforts to live honorably and lead effectively while poking at the puzzle that is how this war got started and why it continues, i.e. what's up with the aliens. Several important discoveries are made along the way.

I seriously doubt this would read well as a stand-alone novel. As a series entry, it's decent. The series as a whole continues to compel me to come back for more.
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