Friday, January 21, 2011

Dauntless: The Lost Fleet Book 1

After having polished off a wonderful (albeit laborious) trilogy of books in the Song of Fire and Ice I felt I needed to go in a completely different direction for my next books.

Book one of Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series proved to be just that. I find that by the time I roll around to reviewing books, someone out there has already done so, and more than likely bested me at it. So I try to just give my own impressions and leave the heavy-duty reviewing to the talking heads.

The official blurb: "The Alliance has been fighting the Syndic for a century-and losing badly. Now its fleet is crippled and stranded in enemy territory. Their only hope is Captain John "Black Jack" Geary, a man who's emerged from a century-long hibernation to find he has been heroically idealized beyond belief. Now, he must live up to his own legend."

The Lost Fleet was a great read, I picked it wanting to get into the familiar genre of military naval tradition turned slightly on its ear and put in deep space. By its very nature, military sci-fi was guaranteed as well. Plus, it turned out to be a surprisingly quick-read too, three sitting in total, so it was a page turner to boot.

Space combat and fleet tactics rule the action, and Campbell takes great care to provide enough detail to make it seem very plausible, while handling things in a non-PHD needed atmosphere. Things you don't really consider in space play big factors, like how fleets moving at appreciable fractions of light-speed have to compensate for communication time-lag as well as targetting and obtaining visuals. Actually, obtaining visuals is next to impossible; by the time you see an enemy fleet enter the system you happen to be in, the images are already hours old.

The character development was pretty flat, the only one you really get to know is the main character, "Black Jack Geary" himself. Mind you, he's almost enough to pull off the whole book on his own, but some other interesting characters would've been nice as well.

There are some pretty great space battles, like I mentioned, the details were excellent and the action wasn't muddled in physics. Geary's monumental task ahead of him is to get his beleaguered and undisciplined fleet back to home space, while being dogged the whole way by the bad guys. I'm assuming this task of his takes about six novels to complete. I also assume by the end of the sixth novel you've experienced enough near-light speed fleet battles to last three lifetimes. That's why I'm stopping here.

Dauntless was a quick read and a lot of fun. It gives you a naval-eyed view of space combat, and military structure while pulling off a good deal of depth, thought, and complexity without being inaccessible. It is what is it is though. This guy leading his broken fleet home, trying to win their trust and respect along the way. He wrestles with his Rip Van Winkle-ness too, trying to relate to what the fleet he knew a hundred years ago has become today.

You'll like it at least as much as I did. It'll get you wanting to play Battlefleet Gothic (free!), or in my case, Firestorm Armada at the very least. You may stick around for the rest of Black Jack's valor and fleet antics as well. I think I got a good enough glimpse however.


  1. Great review I may have to check that book out!

  2. Good review, and it tickles my interest. The flatness of the characters is something we can almost expect, but the mentions of physics and dynamics we wouldn't necessarily imagine would make it worthwhile for me. Naval combat games are also enjoying a renaissance it seems, at least in GW circles. I'm hoping they take the opportunity to re-release Man O'War.

  3. Nice review. I reckon after the sixth book, the reader is awarded licence to navigate a spacecraft.

  4. Thanks for the review, that sounds like it could be a fun book. I've noticed my interest in BFG (and now Firestorm Armada as well) has started to build back up so this book might be what it takes to get me painting spaceships again.

  5. Sounds cool (the book) Must be better than Prospero Burns. 135 pages in and I still have no idea whats going on in the book.

  6. @Bartender: Haha, yeah, the reader has an Associate's Degree in Fleet Command too!

    @Porky: It definitely gets into relative speeds on a range scale of entire systems in terms of maneuvering, targeting, communications, and the like. Actually, cover to cover is pretty much fleet physics done light.

    @Meatball: It's a quick read and worthwhile at least as a standalone. You may get drawn into more...

    @Padre JJ: Man oh man, I so want to get into Firestorm Armada on so many levels!

    @Derina: Long time no hear! You're at about the point in a book that's take it or leave it for me. Life's too short to suffer through a bad book when there's so many other books out there waiting for you.

  7. awesome series and one that definitely inspires one to play more BFG. When you are done with that series may I humbly suggest John Ringo's posleen war series, or the Prince Roger series with Ringo and David Weber.

  8. Sounds rather interesting! I think I'll put on the buy-list :) Thanks for the review! I think this would spur me on to actually paint the ships I currently have to work on.