The Lost Fleet: Dauntless Audiobook Review
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless
Written by: Jack Campbell
Narrated by: Christian Rummel, Jack Campbell
Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
Series: Lost Fleet, Book 1
Release Date: 03-20-08
Publisher: Audible Studios
The Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell is a military sci-fi novel and the first book in The Lost Fleet series. John “Black Jack” Geary’s emergency pod has just been recovered from deep space after a century of cold-sleep hibernation. He was considered dead after his heroic last stand against enemy spaceships, allowing the remaining Alliance fleet ships escape. His actions went into the history books as the famous battle of Grendel and every child in the Alliance grew up with exaggerated tales about Black Jack and how some day he’ll come back to save everybody.
Geary himself is not only bewildered by the fact he’s alive, but that the war with the Syndicate worlds is still going on after a hundred years. He has to deal with the fact that everybody seems to worships him and his family and loved ones are no longer alive. Also, he has to deal with it quickly because it turns out he’s the most senior officer in the entire fleet which happens to be stuck in enemy territory with heavily damaged and worn out ships (they don’t make ’em like they used to) carrying a stolen key for the Syndicate hypernet. A piece of equipment that could turn the tide and end the war once and for all. It falls onto Geary’s shoulders to bring the fleet and the key home in one piece. Can he be the man everyone expects him to be and save the Alliance?
As good of a commander Geary is, he certainly is no superhero. What makes things even harder for him is the change that the Alliance fleet has gone through and many things that he took for granted are not the way he remembers. Technologically things have moved on of course (it’s been a hundred years after all) but what really trows Geary for a loop is the structure and strategy (or lack thereof) of the military. Junior officers speaking up to their superiors? Voting when decisions have to be made? Charging straight into battle without thinking of formation? What is this c*ap?! Geary lived in a time when the military was well-trained and when the senior gave orders – the subordinates obeyed. But because of the devastating losses the Alliance has suffered over the past several decades, younger commanders have had to step up. They’re not as skilled and experienced and the military is now run more like a democracy than a hierarchy, with commanders discussing and voting during meetings instead of receiving and following orders from superiors. Black Jack Geary’s own legendary exploit is also a factor in this decline — his heroic status has caused many ship commanders to try to seek their own glory. Geary recognizes that all of this is bad for the Alliance Worlds, but changing an entire military organization may be too much for one man. Unless that man is the legendary Black Jack who has returned from the dead to set his people free.
Obviously Geary is the main interest in Dauntless but the other characters are also quite interesting. They are more developed as the series goes, so if you find them a little bit cardboard-y at first, just give it a chance. One thing that sets this series apart from other military sci-fi is how Campbell deals with the problem of relativity during space battles. For example, if you get a report about the location of an enemy ship that’s lightminutes away from your location, they are no longer there in the time it takes you to get the report. This distortion has a lot of consequences, especially when both sides are trying to kill each other. Campbell keeps repeating that which gets old after a while, but I appreciate the fact he’s explaining a problem that’s not addressed often and it makes for some good action.
As always Audible Frontiers did an amazing job producing The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. Christian Rummel is a perfect narrator for Black Jack, perfectly reflecting Geary’s humble but confident personality. I’ve currently read all the books in the series that are released and I have to say that’s one of the most entertaining military sci-fi series I’ve read. If you like awesome space battles mixed with some political conspiracies and the occasional personal drama, you’re in for a treat.
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