‘The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield’ is book two in the spin- off from ‘The Lost Fleet’ series following on from ‘Tarnished Knight’, which was a good read, this one is one is so much better. In fact, I struggled to put it down and didn’t want it to end.
Following the successful coup, President Gwen Iceni and General Artur Drakon have again put away their simmering mistrust and suspicions to work together. They and their staffs must co-operate to keep the Midway star system from being over-run by the Syndics who want it back and the mysterious Enigma aliens who just want to kill everyone to get at the legendary Jack Black. Yes, Jack Black (aka Admiral Geary of the Alliance forces) puts in a guest appearance. However, the focus of this book is Iceni and Drakon with a supporting cast of Midway inhabitants.
Having led the coup against the Syndic rule in ‘Tarnished Knight’, Iceni and Drakon now have to survive the aftermath. There are threats on every side what with civil unrest, assassination attempts, invasions, planetary bombardments and a bunch of opportunists attempting to make off with the very best battleship Midway has. There is hardly enough time to put the kettle on and have a cup of tea.
There is one thing Jack Campbell really does very well indeed it is writing space battles. They are fabulous and there are enough here to give you a real taste of what it would be like to be up there and shot at. That’s not to say that they dominate the book, as they don’t. Politics and inter-faction rivalry are a major component of this universe set against the lingering animosity of the Midway population and their new Alliance friends. After a century of bitter fighting between the Syndics and the Alliance, it’s going to take a long time for people to forget all the injustices perpetrated by the other side.
It’s the interactions between the Midway ex-Syndics, Syndics and the Alliance people, which to me is probably the weakest element of the book. Some of the characters attitudes and actions seem predictable and extreme. I’m probably not the best person to judge this, as I don’t know anyone who has recently been in a very long war while being subjected to propaganda demonising the other side.
There are a few surprise plot elements in ‘Perilous Shield’ that keep the tension high. The on-going friction between Iceni and Drakon over their respective assistants (it’s mostly Drakon’s staff causing the issues) builds throughout the book. It adds another dimension to their turbulent relationship. The biggest surprise though was the cliff-hanger ending. I didn’t see that one coming!
Book three of ‘The Lost Stars’ is eagerly awaited as there is quite a lot of explaining to do.
(pub: Titan Books. 467 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-85768-925-2)
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