26th May2011

Book Review: The Lost Fleet – Relentless

by Jack Kirby

Written by Jack Campbell | Published by Titan Books

Jack Campbell’s military science fiction series reaches its penultimate instalment in Relentless. The book opens with an account of Captain John Geary’s courageous and legend-making battle that started the galactic war the books describe over one hundred years ago, that has been referred to frequently throughout the previous four books, but never given a full description. Here, we get to read of the fraught battle and of Geary’s rescue from hibernation sleep a century later.

The book is much the same as its predecessors: politics, tactics, conspiracies and an unspoken romance bridge the gaps between large scale space battles. It’s perhaps unlikely to change anyone’s world, but fans of the series will be eager to catch another dose of Campbell’s moreish prose, before the grand conclusion in the final novel.

Relentless also features a ground battle, another first for the series, in which POWs are rescued, bringing with them a whole new set of problems for Geary to deal with. The amount of new situations and tweaks that Campbell manages to add to the rather linear plot – space fleet fights its way home through space – is mildly impressive and serves to prevent the action from becoming tedious and repetitive. Other spanners Campbell throws in Geary’s works are the involvement of saboteurs in the fleet, further evidence of extra-terrestrial involvement in the war and a final obstacle between the Alliance ships and their home worlds.

Campbell manages his plot well and certain scenes are written with what can only be described as panache. The revelation of the fleet’s traitors is particularly good, as are a number of the more minor characters. However, after five books, some of the main characters are becoming a little tired and don’t seem to have grown enough as the novels progress. Rione and Desjani’s constant bickering is tiresome and Geary is simply too much of a paragon of virtue to be truly believable. Still, Relentless is a fairly rollicking book and sets things up nicely for the series’ finale.

The Lost Fleet: Relentless is out now from Titan Books

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