fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsRelentless by Jack CampbellRelentless by Jack Campbell

In Relentless, book 5 of Jack Campbell’s LOST FLEET series, Captain Black Jack Geary and the Alliance fleet are jumping through a Syndic star system, trying to evade the Syndics, as usual, when they happen to be in a position from which they can rescue some Alliance POWs from one of the Syndic planets. Here the Alliance force sees the consequences of their past honorable behavior which Captain Geary has insisted upon, despite earlier protests from many in his fleet. Their good deeds are bearing fruit.

Because of this, most of the other captains now trust Geary completely and some of the more reluctant ones are starting to buy in. Unfortunately, Geary himself is feeling very insecure and is sometimes paralyzed by fear of failure. He’s also still dealing with a few secret saboteurs who clearly don’t want him returning home in glory. While some of his colleagues are ready to crown Geary emperor, a few would like him out of the picture and they are willing to sacrifice ships and personnel to make that happen.

Another problem is the discovery that the fleet is being hunted by a massive Syndic reserve flotilla. Where have the Syndics been keeping all these ships and what are they for, if not for fighting the current war with the Alliance? And then, of course, there are the imploding hypernet gates, which have everyone feeling a little twitchy.

The Lost Fleet (6 book series) Kindle EditionOn a personal level, Geary is still dealing with the jealous rivalry between the captain of the flagship and Madam Co-President. (I’m a little annoyed at how silly these women are acting.) Another woman enters his life in this installment, too — Captain Jane Geary, his grandniece. He’d like to have an avuncular relationship with Jane, but she is reluctant (for good reason) to get too close. By watching her, Geary can see what it was like to grow up in a society that’s been at war for 100 years — a society where her own granduncle was the war’s greatest hero.

As usual for the LOST FLEET books, Relentless offers plenty of military action, epic space battles, a cool ground war, clever intelligence operations, political intrigue, interesting ethical considerations, and social commentary. As I’ve said in my past couple of reviews of the LOST FLEET books, this series could have been condensed considerably. While the plot progresses in Relentless, there is a lot of repetition and the plot uses many of the same elements we’ve seen before. Important things happen, so it’s a necessary installment (all of them are) but I can’t help but feel that I’m being milked. Fortunately, I enjoy Black Jack Geary’s company, so the feeling isn’t too aversive.

Readers who have been engrossed in the story so far and just want to hang out with Geary and the fleet will be pleased with Relentless. I’m happy, however, that the series is ending (sort of) in the next book, Victorious. (There are spin-off series that continue the story.)

Just an aside: I’m not sure what’s up with the cover art for this series. Most of the covers show Captain Geary on the ground with some kind of big weapon. These scenes never happen in the books. He doesn’t carry big weapons around and his feet rarely touch the ground outside of a space ship.

Published in 2009. Captain John “Black Jack” Geary races to save a group of Alliance POWs from certain death in this gripping novel in New York Times bestselling author Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet series. Alliance prisoners of war are being held at a labor camp in the Heradao star system, which also happens to be the location of the majority of the surviving Syndic warships. Determined not to leave any of his people behind, “Black Jack” Geary orders the fleet to strike hard and fast to rescue the POWs with minimal Alliance losses. The raid is successful, but victory is short-lived. Geary discovers that the Syndics plan to ambush the fleet with their powerful reserve flotilla in an attempt to annihilate it once and for all—but he doesn’t know where the enemy is located. And as Geary has the fleet jump from one star system to the next, hoping to avoid the inevitable confrontation, saboteurs contribute to the chaos…


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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