I really enjoyed the first Lost Fleet book, Dauntless, and thought the series had a lot to offer with the premise that was set up. I jumped straight into Fearless wondering whether it would be more of the same, or whether Jack Campbell would give further reason to continue reading about the journey to Alliance space.
Fearless continues straight after the events in Dauntless with no break in proceedings. This works extremely well in showing that this is one big story, allowing the break between the first and second volume to happen when it feels right rather than being forced. As the Alliance Fleet enter Sutrah we’re immediately reminded of the sheer stubbornness of some of the fleet captains who ignore orders and take their ships on charging runs at the Syndic ships. Of course, this leads them to the inevitable trap lying in wait for them, but also shows that Geary has a lot to do before he can get his officers to understand the futility in all-out charges at the enemy. It’s a topic that much emphasis was put on during Dauntless and continues to be the case throughout Fearless.
The Sutrah star system has a surprise for Geary and the Alliance fleet – a prisoner of war camp on one of its planets. We see the discussion between the fleet over this and the reaction of certain officers to Co-President Rione becoming involved with negotiations to save these Alliance prisoners, once again going to show the differences between Geary’s time and now where the military has no respect for government involvement in their actions, either directly or indirectly. Campbell is able to play these tensions out well between those opposed to Geary’s every decision and Geary himself. Even his supporters are hesitant on Rione’s involvement at Geary’s request.
With the Alliance personnel rescued yet another surprise is delivered to Geary – Captain Francesco ‘Fighting’ Falco, an arrogant yet charismatic ‘hero’ of the Alliance. His history shows neglect for any of his subordinates during battles, sacrificing ships in order to claim a great victory for the Alliance. His nature of honourable all-out fighting means many officers believe him to be the rightful leader of the fleet, but Geary is not letting that happen and the conversations between him and Falco are some of the best in this book. However, Falco’s return prompts many officers unhappy with Geary to conspire against him, ultimately leading to a mutiny of forty Alliance ships heading on their own course regardless of Geary’s orders.
We once again get a good amount of development of Geary’s character, how he is adjusting to this time and the mentality of the fleet. This also leads to a physical relationship with Rione, the one person in the fleet he can have such a relationship with. This also means that Rione has more page time and development, and seeing the two of them come together is not entirely unsurprising and it helps explore both characters a little more. I also really like some of the other captains in the fleet, Duellos and Cresida being the main ones, while others such as Numos and Faresa are just as frustrating and annoying as ever. It’s good to see the fleet conferences that Geary holds just for the discussions that go on and they’re one of the best aspects.
The military approach that Campbell employed in Dauntless is present once again here with battles carried out in superb technical detail and the descriptiveness employed giving a really good overall look at the situation. Geary employs different tactics in Fearless, mixing in a little caution and a little boldness, but his reasoning is as sound as ever in the hopes to avoid a major conflict with the Syndics. It makes you wonder just how long this will go on for before he finds himself in the situation he’s desperate to avoid, but I can’t fault any of the decisions he makes or how he performs. It all just works.
So, Fearless is another page-turner adding a more to the series and getting the fleet that little bit closer to home. There is a sense of wonder involved, but also a sense of isolation, and with the action and intelligent plotting going on there’s no doubt that I’ll keep on reading. Sterling stuff.