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The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier - Guardian (book 3)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 May 2013
I mostly enjoyed reading this latest instalment of the Lost Fleet - Beyond the Frontier series, but not quite as much as most of the previous volumes. I largely had the same feeling I had with the previous volume and a sense of "déjà vu". The book "recycles" many of the features that have already been used in previous volumes, including the romance and bantering between admiral "Black Jack" Geary and his flag captain, the devious and unscrupulous "Syndicate" regime who seems to be crumbling forever, and the "almost-as-devious" politicians of the Alliance. Even one of the "new" characters, such as a young lieutenant with green hair, seems to be a recast of a previous character "killed off" in a previous volume.

Having mentioned this, the book also has some of the qualities of the previous volumes and a number of differences. For starters, there are no huge and desperate space battles pitting numerous enemies against Geary's veteran, worn and torn battle fleet. Instead, as the fleet struggles to return to Alliance space through the Syndicate Worlds, there are a series of smaller engagements as the latter spring one trap after another to destroy it, despite the peace treaty that supposedly ended the war against the two superpowers. These engagements are rather well thought out and well told, with these being perhaps one of the best parts of the book.

Another piece which is emphasized rather more than in previous volumes is the political upheaval in the Alliance as the "Lost Fleet" once again returns victorious from a mission it may not have been expected to survive. While the author, like many ex-members of armed forces from a number of countries that have recently been involved in wars, may (understandably) have little sympathy for self-interested "politicians", the way the squabbling senators are presented in the book felt like a caricature at times and did not entirely ring true. I was also rather confused (but perhaps was I meant to be?) and failed to identify the various factions that the senators was supposed to represent. I am still unsure as to what exactly each of them was supposed to stand for, apart from the personal rivalries that they seem to indulge in. My credulity was somewhat stretched to the limits by some sweeping generalizations, particularly when one particularly disenchanted senator "self-confesses" that they are all professional liars.

While the author does make some effort, particularly at the beginning of the book, to fill in the reader with events that have taken place in previous volumes, a number of features - such as the decision of some of the Alliance's allies to pull out, or the importance of the "errand" given to Admiral Geary - are left unexplained (or unsufficiently explained).

The "new" enemy that they encounter felt also like caricatures while the "moralizing" tones of the inhabitants of the planet that they rescue towards the end of the book felt somewhat "naïve". In any case, I would have liked to learn more about the history of the Alliance, and of Man's colonization of the stars, but there was very little about this in this volume. There is also very little new about the alien races. Apart from some moralizing lessons for humans (again!), these remain mostly enigmatic (no play on words intended).

While still a good read, I was a bit disappointed by this volume...
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2013
Too often we see aliens who are driven by the same motivations we have ourselves. What I like most about the Beyond series over and above the original Lost Fleet, is the way the three alien races have not only their own motivations but that John has included in the central story not only the discussion of their motivations but also take the time to consider what that says about humanity. Let's face it, the cute but homicidal aliens positioned against the ugly but friendly aliens has been done before but the intelligent way it's been handled, with the dread feeling on board the captured ship and the concern that the Dancers aren't telling everything they know, just keeps us wondering whether things are as simple as they seem. Even the differences between the Syndicate, the ex-Syndicate worlds and the Alliance gets carefully considered rather than just a sidebar on the way to the next battle. Oh and by the way, that ending completely caught me by surprise, nice work John, keep it up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 July 2013
A new Lost Fleet novel is becoming a regular occurrence and, much like my birthday and Christmas, I look forward to the annual event and wonder what it will bring each year. With Guardian I didn't expect anything massively different from the last instalment, but questioned whether Campbell would introduce something new and different, and eager to see where he's going with the plot threads he has in motion.

After the events of Invincible, Geary's First Fleet of the Alliance is in the Midway star system patching up its ships and taking stock of what occurred in non-human space. With plans to head home high on the agenda, Geary is hoping that all goes smoothly on the journey. But despite the uneasy peace truce with the Syndicate Worlds they run into trouble along the way, but not the sort they've seen before. With emissaries of the alien species known as the Dancers to protect, as well as the captured Invincible, Geary has much more to content with than he hoped, and surprises are often waiting for him at every turn.

Before going into more detail about my thoughts on Guardian, I have to point out that when I started the Beyond The Frontier series with Dreadnaught I was under the impression that it was going to be a trilogy. Based on this, I went into Guardian expecting some resolutions, answers to my questions, and a novel that would deliver all of these in a quick-paced and action packed finale. Suffice to say I was wrong - Guardian is not the concluding volume of this series, and I suppose only Campbell knows how many more novels are to appear.

So, Guardian. What can I say that I haven't said before? Well, nothing much, to be honest. This is the 9th (!) Lost Fleet novel following John 'Black Jack' Geary and his fellow crew and ships in Alliance, Syndic, and non-human space. What Dreadnaught promised with the mission to explore space beyond that of human habitation (hence the rather apt sub-series title of Beyond The Frontier), and Invincible added to, Guardian takes away. We are, effectively, done with exploration and back to what we know best: getting home from Syndic space.

While this initially gives the distinct impression of SSDD, Guardian does take things in a new direction, if only slightly. The Syndics aren't as stupid - or transparent - as they once were, and it makes for some interesting set pieces. We may not have seen these scenarios before, but we have seen Geary et al deal with them, and Guardian follows the well worn path laid out by its predecessors.

Go on, let out the breath you didn't know you were holding. I'll wait.

We've got new characters that contribute to the Fleet, but they're in familiar roles. We've got Geary racking his brains to come up with solutions that often come to him at the last minute. We've got Desjani and Rionne despising each other, even when they know the other has a valid point. We've got the inevitable clash between politicians and military. We've got it all. But it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I've come to view the Lost Fleet series as the book equivalent of a popcorn movie. You go in knowing that you'll enjoy it, come out having had a good time, question some aspects of the narrative and actions, but ultimately accept it as it is and go on your way a happy person. Lets be honest, you're not going to start with this novel, and if you've tried them from the start you're either a fan or you're not. Campbell hasn't done anything here that will shake the foundations of the genre, but he has delivered the type of story that puts a smile on your face and gets your anticipation up for the next instalment.

I, for one, am an unashamed fan of this series, despite my poor attempts at poking fun at it. Happy days.
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Latest in the Lost Fleet series of Military science fiction novels. There was an original series of six of these, and then another which followed on from that. This is the third of that one.

Thus this isn't a good jumping on point for new readers, not just because there is no exposition - beyond a quick bit of dialogue on the first page - to bring you up to speed. So you should start with The Lost Fleet: Dauntless (Book 1) (Lost Fleet 1) instead.

Regular readers, read on.

This volume runs for four hundred and eighty nine pages, and is divided into eighteen chapters.

We begin where the last book left off, with the Fleet trying to get home from it's current mission. With aliens in tow and onboard. But with Syndic systems still to get through. The collapse of the Syndic has left them in turmoil. With people and the state security service struggling for power.

As ever Geary has moments of self doubt, lots of conversations about what to do with Tanya and Rione. Space battles to fight. And Alliance politics to deal with.

It is the mixture as before. It's also a very long book. But it still manages to keep itself going very nicely and to be a good page turner without ever feeling over familiar.

The use of real time and relativity does make the space battles interesting to read. Plus, all the characters are three dimensional and nobody is evil for the sake of it. The effect of war and it's aftermath is well handled, not least via a great scene of first contact - as it were - between a Syndic and the Alliance.

With roughly a fifth of the book left it then goes off in a completely different and somewhat surprising direction, taking the story into wholly new territor. There is a point to all this though, and it is well done and well worth waiting for.

As ever, the aliens are a highlight, remaining totally non human in the way they behave and very enigmatic throughout.

This is not the end of Beyond the Frontier, though. Black Jack will be back. Book four is out in May 2014. I look forward to it.

There is an author's note at the end about the Lost Stars novels, but this is the same one that appeared in Beyond the Frontier book Two.
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on 16 September 2013
I first read the "Lost Fleet" series as they came out, in the latter half of the "naughties" (2006 - 2010.) From time to time since, I've picked up one at random and read through it again, usually to follow a theme such as the description of the space battles, or what precisely IS happening between Tanja and Victoria, or the way the theme of the alien presence grows. Recently, I read all six from start to end in one week of intensive reading. They well repaid the revisit. "Campbell" has a few stylistic mannerisms which one tends to smile at, but the story line is usually fast-paced, gripping, and makes sense. It serves to remind us that wars are not caused by two factions, although they may end up being polarised around them. Hemry has an alert eye for the nuances of personnel within a service, although one has to remember this is no "wavy navy" but one which has evolved to meet the challenges of battle using unheard-of weapons in an environment which is inimically hostile to humans. And the war has dragged on for several generations. So one would expect the psychological tensions and easements to be different but familiar.

It is truly wonderful space-opera. It's not just full of the hardware and the wonder of deep space, but it also has as an essential ingredient the character and emotions of the intrepid humans undergoing the experiences. You have to have both in good space opera.

But at the end of the series, in "Victorious" (2010) there are of course many loose ends. Will Black Jack become a Sulla, and cleanse the house of the Allies? In the light of it, the decision to send him off on a very clear suicide mission is about as good a political settlement as one may wish for. It is the working out of this deeply flawed strategy that occupies the three volumes of "Beyond the Frontier." The last volume, "Guardian" came out just as I finished my stint of re-reading the "Lost Fleet" series, so I plunged on, re-reading the first two volumes of "Beyond the Frontier", and the third for the first time.

Incredibly credible and inscrutable aliens which the humans try to understand, the war-wearyness of these battle-scarred humans (and their ships - Hemry scores a major master-stroke with this theme) and of course ugly political intrigue which ties poor Victoria in knots... and a very credible near-nervous breakdown for Black Jack. I can't help feeling though that the last volume, "Guardian", is Hemry's way of tying this basically untiable knot up in some semblance of completeness. It avoids the blood-bath of Sulla but one cannot help feeling that there will have to be a Pilsudski-style "Sanacja" regime sooner or later and that Hemry is simply too good a soldier to want to even contemplate this turn of fate. Perhaps if the politicians elected on the historical war-time platforms are really very very bad in peace-time then democracy will find a way and elect future politicians who will do it right? Can we dare hope? As my father (who was a regular soldier in WW2) used to say, politicians are very good at contriving miserable endings despite the best their soldiers can do for them.

The flavour of "Beyond the Frontier" is different to that of "The Lost Fleet." One should not make the mistake of assuming simply more of the same. "Beyond the Frontier" is still good, rattling space opera no whit inferior to "Lost Fleet" but the tensions and the themes which require resolution are different. Don't expect more of the same. Expect many different challenges (delightful to the reader but not so much to Black Jack and his men.) I suspect that once he's worked his way through his "Lost Stars" Hemry will have to revisit Black Jack in his destiny as the Alliance's Cincinnatus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 May 2013
Another entertaining, undemanding tale in the "Lost Fleet" series from Mr. Campbell. His hero(in)es are well portrayed, but sometimes they seem just a little too uncannily prescient for my liking, out-thinking the baddies just too often and at too little cost to themselves. However, this is what's called "space opera", and this fairy tale element comes with the territory. More to come for Black Jack Geary? Well, there remain a lot of loose ends waving around. I'm sure there's at least another book's worth of interstellar adventures here. I for one shall be there.
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on 18 October 2013
Another great book from the lost fleet series about three quarters of the way through the book, the story falters. Suddenly from action in one star system on the way home, you quickly end up in the home system after... Well nothing. In the last phase of the story there is a well described battle. But either
side of that is lacking. I get the impression that this is the last Black Jack Geary story when there is scope for much more about Geary and his Wife/Flagship Captain. A good book but leaves so much hanging. What happens to the Dancers, Invincible, the Enigma, the Kikbears and much much more. Please Mr Campbell let's have some more Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier.
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on 21 August 2013
This is a very good part on the story of Jack Geary who after being found in cold sleep after years of being lost in space was left in charge of a fleet which he brought home to political dissension, on the way he gave the fleet back the ideals of honour and saving as much life as possible, this has enabled him to treat with enemies and aliens along the way. The people on Midway were lucky as he helped to stop an attack by some aliens and the old overlords of the planet so the fledging government could continue to grow. Looking forward to the next in the series
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A great continuation to a great series, the continuing trials and tribulations of Geary and the Alliance fleet, in this one we do have the added interest of the Dauntless being along during a mission and we find what the Wolf Spiders are hoping to accomplish by accompanying the Alliance Fleet home.

I have read each and every one of the books in the series and have enjoyed every one, this is there with the rest of them, less combat maybe but plenty of scope for more books. Very recommended.
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on 12 May 2013
I really do love these books. Guardian is a great continuation of the series, with a great ending. We're already seeing more of the Syndic side in the Tarnished Knight, but I'd love to see more of the Alliance itself during the next few books, and I think that's where it's heading next.

John Hemry really is extremely good at writing and explaining light speed battles too :D
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