Top positive review
A good read but...
on 13 October 2013
This, the second volume in the "Lost Stars" series, was a good and a rather exciting book, although I enjoyed it a bit less than "Tarnished Knight", the previous one, which it is preferable to read before.
Both books have very much the same ingredients. The story is told from the perspective of the former Syndicate system of Midway, a strategic hub with some eight jump points that has declared itself independent under President Iceni and General Drako, two former Syndicate leaders in charge, respectively, of its space navy and its ground forces.
Their position is somewhat unstable as they try to make the regime evolve towards something less totalitarian and (a bit) more democratic. They face multiple and unknown external and internal threats and do not know to what extent they can even trust each other, especially since they both originate from the ultra-competitive and murderous former elite of "CEOs". So suspicions, plots and intrigues, whether real or not, create an atmosphere of paranoia throughout the book where just about everyone suspects everyone else of being about to betray and murder them.
The first part of the book is similar to "Tarnished Knight", with the events seen in the corresponding "Lost Fleet" volume (which are part of Guardian) as Admiral Geary ("Black Jack's") Fleet comes back to Midway on its way home to Alliance space after having encountered (and defeated, of course) a couple of nasty alien species and allied with a third. The same story is, again, told from the perspective of the Midway leaders, with the same events unfolding. This was both well done and interesting as it showed a rather different point of view and perception. It did, however, have a strong sense of "déjà vu" and was therefore not as original.
The rest of the book is about the efforts of Iceni and Drako to ensure the independence of Midway, with the help of the Admiral Geary's liaison officer, amid plots and multiple assassinations attempts. Two of the book's strong points here were to show the challenges in having to work with the former enemy and the disorientation (to put it mildly) suffered by former prisoners of war freshly released after years of captivity.
One of the book's original features was the way the combat scenes were dealt with. There are no major battles this time, either in space or on the ground. There are however a couple of fire-fights, both part of assassination attempts (of which I will say no more) and a prolonged attack of a Midway space convoy by a Syndicate squadron (and the corresponding defence of the convoy by its escort) which, in my view, largely make up for of the lack of "big battles".
A relative weakness of this book, in my view, is that the author has felt obliged to finish it with a somewhat implausible "coup de theatre" (the last 15 pages or so) when explaining the bitter rivalry between General Drako's two main lieutenants. Despite a conscious effort to suspend disbelief, this did not work very well with me.
If this had been possible, I would have rated this book slightly above three and a half stars (perhaps 3.6). Since fractions are not possible and a three star rating would have been a bit too harsh in my view, I will give a somewhat generous four stars.