Apr 25 2013 5:00pm

Very Much a Series Novel: Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian

The Lost Fleet Beyond The Frontier Guardian Jack Campbell ReviewThere’s a small problem with reviewing a series that has run (thus far) to eight instalments and an ancillary spin-off: by the ninth volume in direct descent (to whit, this one, The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Guardian), the reviewer can assume that unless the author has chosen to do something radically different, readers who’ve come this far already have a fair idea of whether or not they want to keep going.

Although perhaps it should be said that new readers shouldn’t plan on starting here.

So, what can be said about The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian? Let’s start with the most important thing for all the series readers out there: Campbell hasn’t radically changed his game. If you enjoyed the last instalment (and, particularly, if you enjoyed the sixth Lost Fleet novel), you’re probably going to enjoy this one, too.

Admiral “Black Jack” Geary has brought his fleet back to human space after a mission which brought them deep into unexplored space and through the territories of three alien species, two of them previously unknown to the governments of both the Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds. He has returned with representatives of a potentially friendly alien race, and a giant superbattleship captured from a terribly hostile one. But his first port of call is the star system of Midway, once part of the Syndicate Worlds, now in open revolt—and Geary’s Alliance First Fleet finds a task force from the Syndicate Worlds’ government facing off against the forces of an independent Midway. The diplomatic (and practical) headache this presents is only the first of the challenges he must overcome: the way back through Syndicate territory to the Alliance is full of obstacles and ambushes laid by the Syndicate government (despite the peace agreement), since Geary’s captured superbattleship represents an incredible trove of potential knowledge. Nor can Geary relax once he returns to Alliance territory: the power, symbolic and actual, which he represents, offers both danger and opportunity to politicians within the Alliance, and within the external enemy of the Syndicates to hold the Alliance together, the Alliance may well slide towards dissolution and civil war.

To say nothing of his friendly aliens, the Dancers. They want to go to Earth. Kansas, to be precise. And Earth, birthplace of humanity, is nominally an independent, demilitarised zone. But when Geary arrives in his flagship Dauntless, escorting the Dancers, he finds warships waiting....

(Although Geary seems to find warships waiting everywhere he goes, so I, for one, wasn’t particularly shocked.)

Campbell’s genius isn’t character, or plot. In fact, plot and character in Beyond the Frontier: Guardian are just enough to get the job done but nothing in particular to write home about: developments and pacing after the return to Alliance space are especially sketchy. The politicians are especially poorly characterised. But let’s be honest, that’s not what we’re reading for. Campbell’s genius is action IN SPAAAAACE. And the battle sequences are everything you’ve come to expect from The Lost Fleet series, with the added bonus of New! Tactics! on the part of Geary’s enemies. We’re not entirely treading old ground here, although some of the scenery is familiar.

In sum: if you like this sort of thing (and I do), then this is the sort of thing you will like. But start at the beginning, is what I recommend.

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Guardian is published by Ace. It is available May 7.

Liz Bourke tweets, blogs, and does many other things. At least, when not reading books.

Kristoff Bergenholm
1. Magentawolf
If I never see another Lost Fleet novel, it'll be too soon.

I mean, really, it should be perfect for me... It's space! War! Interesting tactics! Surviving behind enemy lines! A mad, desperate dash for home with vital information!

But... somehow Campbell manages to screw it up entirely with that whole politics plotline. Oh, woe is me, I'm a politician and I can't have someone win a battle / war / save this civilization because then I'll lose my power.

I made it through the fourth book, and then tossed it aside in disgust; everything just felt like a rehash of what happened previously... the same arguments, the same fights.. bah.
M Wright
2. M Wright
My wife bought the first book for me years ago as a present. I am not a fan of space war novels (I did 21 years in the military).. BUT I loved the first book and got he 2nd, 3rd, 4th.....
The characters are real and the story is well developed. the books are fast paced and have a great flow.
I would recommend this series to anybody.
M Wright
3. Desmond Harder
Dear Mr Cambell, What a let down I've read all your Stark Series/Lawyers in Space Series/Lost Fleet/Lost Fleet beyond the Frontier, up to and including Guardian/Tarnished Knight/
and now, I've cancelled my standing order for your books as they are published.

All your books were superb, except of course Guardian and Tarnished Knight, which were terrible It appears as if you ran out of any more ideas half way through Guardian and were in a great hurry, to complete itnow come on - to finish a great series with 'lets go home' is a bit of a come down. I thought you were completing another six books series of Beyond the Frontier where Jack fought for justice at home. Your Lost Suns series, in my opinion, and only in my opinion is nothing when compared to your other books. Could you also tell me why you put your hero and heroine in all your stories in a situation where thy can never fraternise.

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