RogerBW's Blog

The Lost Fleet: Victorious, Jack Campbell 13 August 2014

Last of a six-book series. In the distant future, a long-frozen space-navy captain tries to lead his fleet home. I'm going to deal in spoilers both for this book and for the whole series.

Starting with the fact that, at the end of book five, the survivors of the fleet had got home. This is the wrapping-up: talking with the political masters of the Alliance, finishing off the century-long war with the Syndics, and doing something about the situation with those pesky aliens. And of course resolving the interpersonal stuff too.

All of these things, in fact, go remarkably smoothly. The Alliance politicians pretty much knuckle under as soon as they see that Geary isn't starting a coup, and give him carte blanche to go out after the remaining Syndics any way he sees fit. In my review of Relentless I commented:

"On the other hand, the plan to dive back into the hypernet system (knowing that the mysterious aliens can redirect or lose ships from it at will) seems… foolhardy."

All of a sudden, they can't do that to any ship in the hypernet, only to ones that are running their special bonus subversion software. 'Scuse me? That is not what you said before. Hypernet key, barely-understood technology, can more or less control the entire ship if it wants to? Hey ho.

So the narrative moves to the Syndic home system, and once again everything basically goes Geary's way. The attempts to build up tension just don't ring true. So much has been foreshadowed about the way the Syndic system is falling apart that one could more or less predict the course of events.

With that wrapped up, it's on to meet the aliens, who… whoops, that's reserved for the sequel series. Oopsie. Here they wave their metaphorical genitalia around, but all get blown up in a couple of paragraphs when it's time for an actual fight.

And then it's a quick ending to the romance subplot that's been burbling along since book two, and that's your lot. At times this book felt like the plot notes, padded out to great length; we do at long last get an exterior description of the spaceships we've been reading about for all this time, but overall it's trying to hit the high points but clothing the bones mostly in stodge rather than meat.

I don't think I'm going to rush to read the sequel series that's supposed to deal with the aliens in a bit more detail, or the other one that deals with the collapse of the Syndicate Worlds.

This series gives me the feeling of having started with two great conceits, a space-naval Anabasis and a lost hero returning to his people, and then getting bogged down with detail. It could have done with being two or three books shorter, and with having more characterisation and less repetition (yes, we KNOW how the conferencing software works from the FIRST time you explained it in this book, THANK you). Even so I must say that, yes, I did enjoy it; it's frustrating not from being terrible but from being almost really quite good.

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See also:
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless, Jack Campbell
The Lost Fleet: Fearless, Jack Campbell
The Lost Fleet: Courageous, Jack Campbell
The Lost Fleet: Valiant, Jack Campbell
The Lost Fleet: Relentless, Jack Campbell

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