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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Lost Stars - Tarnished Knight (book 1) (Lost Stars 1)
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 October 2012
Jack Campbell brings us back again to the universe of the Alliance Confederation and the Syndicate Worlds that we have become familiar with in his Lost Fleet series. This time, however, the heroes are not the crews and commanding officers of the Lost (Alliance) Fleet and Admiral (Black Jack) Geary is no more than an element in the background. Instead, and a bit like Weber has done with his Honor Harrington series, Campbell embarks on a new strand, showing how two senior Syndicate officers that briefly figured in the previous series take control of a strategic solar system and try to make it independent, secure and better governed.

One of the strongest points of the book is the atmosphere of total paranoia that is a given in the Syndicate society. At every turn, for every move, even the simplest ones, the senior commander of ground forces and the senior commander of space forces wonder whether the other one, or any of their senior officers, or any of the partisans of the regime that they have just overthrown, is not starting to make a move against them to take them out. Even some of their own officers' behaviours are somewhat ambiguous; as they give the impression they may be playing both sides and/or also having their personal agendas.

The second strongpoint is the battles. Here again, the author has clearly wanted to introduce some variations, possibly to prevent some readers from getting bored with yet more naval battles, but also because the two ex-CEOs do not have much of a fleet to begin with. So there are a couple of space engagements, but there are also a couple of land engagements. In fact, my favourite battle scene happens to be right at the beginning of the book when General Drakon assaults the enemy headquarters at the heads of his storm troops and has to take control of it before its defenders trigger off weapons of mass destruction.

The other strongpoint of this novel is the horrific picture it draws of a society and of worlds dominated by a ruthless, cruel, totalitarian and somewhat inefficient dictatorship. The security services (the ISS) composed of "snakes" and their shock troops (the vipers) cannot but remind the reader of some kind of cross between the Gestapo and the SS, on one hand, and the KGB and its own shock troops, on the other hand.

There are, however, also some drawbacks. While having a story that differs from what was becoming the "usual" space battles in which the "goodies" almost always win, it is possible, but only just, to read this book without having read the whole of the previous Lost Fleet series (some 8 other books!). It is highly preferable to have read all of them first, or the last two (Dreadnaught and Invincible), at the very least. Needless to say, however good this book may be, it becomes somewhat of a problem when a lot of it only fully makes sense when you have read a number of others before it!

Another little issue is the romance that you see starting to develop in this volume. It is slightly different from what we saw in the Lost Fleet series, but, somehow, I found it even less credible, given the circumstances, although I will stop here to avoid spoilers.

A good book, but not Jack Campbell's best. If Amazon did quarters, I would probably rate this one 3.75 stars. Since this is not possible, this one just scrapes into the four star bucket for me.
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A new military science fiction novel, which is a spin off from the popular 'the Lost Fleet' series.

This is a book that you might be able to get into if you haven't read that, as there is some exposition, but you would probably be much better off having read that series first. If you haven't, start with The Lost Fleet: Dauntless (Book 1) (Lost Fleet 1).

If you have, read on.

This volume runs for four hundred and forty seven pages, and is divided into eighteen chapters.

It details events in the Midway star system. A place that was seen and mentioned in the Lost Fleet novels. Where, as the Syndic system of worlds and government starts to crumble, people start to rebel.

The two leaders of the rebellion are Artur Drakon and Gwen Iceni. They are both viewpoint characters in the book, and the narrative does flash back and forth between them. Since Drakon spends most of his time planetside and Iceni spends most of her time in space, this is a pretty effective approach.

The syndic system has been enforced by the ruthless ISS security service. As the would be rebels make their play for freedom, they have these vicious, fanatical and highly skilled warriors to contend with. Even once they win through, that's just the start of the battle. The syndic won't let them go without a fight. How do they bring freedom and democracy to a place that has never known it? Can all the rebels trust each other? And those enigmatic aliens are still out there somewhere...

Written very much in the same style as the Lost Fleet books, this has characters going through a lot of moral introspection and space battles that conform to the law of physics. We join the story just as the rebellion is about to start, and it does take about fifty pages to get going. But once it does, it's a good read. Although the style is the same as the other books, having new characters makes for a fresh approach. It does make the reader think about the moral dilemmas they encounter. And you do get interesting scenes of Black Jack from the lost fleet being viewed and thought about by these characters. And how his influence has rubbed off on them.

There are some decent space battles that manage to grip, and it all ends on a very big cliffhanger indeed.

Well worth it if you're a fan of the Lost Fleet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2013
Having really enjoyed the Lost Fleet series, and loved reading about Black Jack Geary's exploits, I had high hopes for this spin off, but sad to say I was disappointed. I just couldn't connect with the two main characters, I didn't find them very interesting and the book just wasn't as exciting as the others, so sorry but bring back more books based on the original characters and leave these behind, it was readable but took me twice as long to read as I was quite happy to put it down unlike the other books!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 December 2012
Having read and enjoyed the "Lost Fleet" series, I thought I'd give this a try. Full marks to Mr. Campbell for creating an entirely different feeling in this book. The Syndicate Worlds is another place entirely, where total hypocrisy is the order of the day, where people climb to the top by using and/or walking over other people, and where the lower orders are kept in place by the perpetual threat of ruthless military action and an even more ruthless secret police. Suddenly, with the destruction of the military bit of the equation by "Black Jack" Geary, the Syndicate universe totters and a couple of Syndicate CEOs take over a star system without knowing exactly what to put in its place and whether the other CEO can be trusted. Paranoia reigns supreme. Slowly CEOs Drakkon and Iceni grope towards a mutual understanding and cooperation, while remaining suspicious about who's got spies in whose camp. And all the time, there remains the potential threat not only of what's left of the Syndicate armed forces but also the alien "enigma" race, whom nobody has ever seen and against whom humanity has always come off second-best (except Geary). I look forward to further instalments.
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on 7 December 2012
In the same universe as 'Lost Fleet' (a hundred years long interstellar war that has brought the Alliance - a disorganised democracy and the Syndicate Worlds, a group of shambolic but still powerful dictatorships - to a hostile stalemate) and set in roughly the same time frame as 'Invincible', this story takes place mostly on the planet Midway, where two Syndicate Worlds CEOs decide that it is better for both their life expectancies, and the planet in general, to revolt against the central government on Prime and go it alone.
Once the ISS (the secret police) have been neutralised, the CEOs can work out how to work together. Since neither trusts the other, the chances for misunderstandings and fatal mistakes are high, but somehow they are able to muddle through to a position where they can, more or less, work together.
The book is a study in paranoia and shows what it must have been like to live in Hitler's Germany or Stalin's Russia, where innocence was no protection from power. I actually enjoyed this story even more than the 'Lost fleet' series and will be looking out for the next 'Lost Stars' novel.
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VINE VOICEon 5 February 2014
After the two Lost Fleet series it is great news that Jack Campbell (real name John G Hemry) has come up with further adventures set in the same universe. Now we follow the struggle of former Syndicate worlds to throw off the old master and achieve freedom...of sorts.

Several of the characters from the original series have cameo roles in Lost Stars - Tarnished Knight but mainly whole new set of characters and very different aspects on life in the Syndicate Worlds. Campbell writes as well as any author I have read and retains a grip on the reader that is a true delight. I never want to put the book down until the end and then I want the next book NOW!

I see at least a couple more in this series (at least) and also some more Lost Fleet in the offing.. Fantastic!!
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on 20 August 2014
A good story taking forward some common material from the previous 'Black Jack' series. The struggle to establish Midway as an independent star system kept me hooked right through to the very last page, so much so that I was surprised when it ended! The writing style is a little abrupt at times, but the character development has improved significantly since the author's first books (and is obviously far better than anything I could do!) and as a result this flowed much more than I anticipated. I have enjoyed all of his previous works and this ranks up there with the best, a very worthwhile read for fans of this author.
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on 27 January 2014
I wasn't certain if I wanted to read this series as they are related to the former antagonist from the Lost Fleet. I also wasn't too keen on leaving been the Lost Fleet series either.

To my surprise this and the book 2 in the series are very good. They are different to the Lost Fleet and a little slower in patches but the twists and plots make up for this.

If you enjoyed the “Lost Fleet” (which means you will have crossed paths with the main characters of these books previously) then this series is worth reading, it will also add perspective to the Lost Fleet and Lost Star series.
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on 21 November 2012
When i read the blurb for this latest take in the "black Jack" universe i wasn`t sure it have the action and adventure which the other books enthralled me with. I was wrong. From the srart it had the same verve and excitement of the other books.It had the same feel and style of writing i`ve grown to enjoy from Mr. Campbell (Johyn Hemry). Very strong leading female characters take us on a new tangent to explore the break-up of the evil syndicate empire. All in all a very good "known universe" experience and i`m looking forward to the next instalment.
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on 12 May 2014
I have read the entire Lost Fleet series, and enjoyed Jack Campbell's spin off mini-series about life in the Midway star system. It does not detract from the overall story, and continues with the great ideas that were introduced throughout the other books.

For those who, like me, enjoy a bit of fun sci-fi with plenty of space battles, the Lost Fleet series are great. You need to read the other books before this one though, or it won't seem as good.
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