Review: Dauntless (The Lost Fleet)

Dauntless by Jack Campbell
(Ace, July 2006. Paperback, 293 pages)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John ‘Black Jack’ Geary died a hero just over a century ago. The story of his last action inspired a legend known by everyone in the Alliance Fleet. He was posthumously awarded the rank of captain and his name became synonymous with the decisive action. Black Jack was remembered as both daring and fearless.

John Geary remembers history differently.

When the fleet assembles in the same star system as that long ago battle, to face the same enemy, they discover a hibernation pod. Geary is revived. Frozen for a hundred years, he remembers his last engagement with the enemy as if it was yesterday and is discomfited by the official version of events and his status as legend. Before he can reconcile past and present, he is called on to serve again. Placed in command of the modern Alliance Fleet, he faces an enemy superior in numbers and firepower and this time he does not have the option of sacrifice. The flagship, Dauntless, must return to Alliance space.

Battling legend and superstition, Geary thinks his way out of one situation after another. The century long war has eroded the Alliance he once knew and he strives to find a balance between the way things are done now and they way they were done then. He struggles to embrace the newer, more aggressive attitude and balance it with better discipline and has to deal with hero-worship and disdain. Some believe he can do anything; he is after all a legend. Others believe he might best have been left in his hibernation pod and sometimes he agrees with them.

Nevertheless, the strength of character that drove his actions in the past inspires him to do his best in the future. The story of his personal journey, his struggle against himself, is as enjoyable a read as the military tactics and engagements with the enemy. Beneath both a mystery slowly unravels. There may be another reason for the war between the Alliance and the Syndics and as this novel, ‘The Lost Fleet: Dauntless’ ends, another clue is revealed.

I ‘discovered’ Jack Campbell (a pen name of John G. Hemry) earlier this year when I read and reviewed ‘Armored’, an anthology published by Baen. I reviewed his story, ‘Hell’s Half Acre’ and added his series ‘The Lost Fleet’ to my reading list. I found his novel an engrossing and enjoyable read and the character of John Geary as personable as I had hoped and look forward to the continuing story of John ‘Black Jack’ Geary and the Lost Fleet.

Written for and originally published at SF Crowsnest.

View all my reviews

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