Today I’ve got a sci-fi review from my guest reviewer, Peter (husband and resident sci-fi guy), and Ace was kind enough to offer 5 copies for giveaway, so check out the details at the bottom of the post!
Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
Publisher: Ace/Oct. 2nd, 2012
The authority of the Syndicate Worlds’ government is crumbling. Civil war and rebellion are breaking out in many star systems despite the Syndic government’s brutal attempts to suppress disorder. Midway is one of those star systems, and leaders there must decide whether to remain loyal to the old order or fight for something new.CEO Artur Drakon has been betrayed. The Syndic government failed to protect its citizens from both the Alliance and the alien enigmas. With a cadre of loyal soldiers under his command, Drakon launches a battle for control of the Midway Star System—assisted by an ally he’s unsure he can trust…
CEO Gwen Iceni was exiled to Midway because she wasn’t ruthless enough in the eyes of her superiors. She’s made them regret their assessment by commandeering some of the warships at Midway and attacking the remaining ships still loyal to the Syndicate empire. Iceni declares independence for the Midway Star System on behalf of the people while staying in charge as “President.” But while she controls the mobile fleet, she has no choice but to rely on “General” Drakon’s ground forces to keep the peace planet-side…
If their coup is to succeed, Drakon and Iceni must put their differences aside to prevent the population of Midway from rising up in rebellion against them, to defend Midway against the alien threat of the enigma race—and to ferret out saboteurs determined to reestablish Syndic rule…
“Treason could be as simple as walking through a doorway.”
So begins Jack Campbell’s latest novel, The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight, a spin off of his Lost Fleet series. As first sentences go, this one not only piqued my interest, it also set the hook firmly in my mouth and began reeling me in. Usually it takes me a few dozen pages to get into a new book and feel comfortable in the world. Tarnished Knight had me joining the wild ride right out of the gate.
The Lost Stars series focuses on the collapse of control of the Syndicate Worlds. Like all empires throughout time, no matter how firm the control, eventually the empire crumbles be it from external pressures or internal rot or both. What happens as a society wrests control of their worlds/lives from the distant overlords and struggles to create a new order while protecting their hard won gains. I have always been fascinated by the transitions more than the results. People seem to think, for example, that the time from the surrender at Yorktown and the birth of the United States is only backstory. In reality that time is a massive upheaval where different factions competed for their own objectives. This is truly the time when small differences can bring about large changes.
Tarnished Knight begins the coverage of this transition time. The Midway system is the focus where threats from an alien race (the Enigmas) and other humans (the Alliance) are everyday concerns. The collapse of the Syndicate strength leaves the Syndicate not only unable to defend the far flung reaches of their empire but also requires them to pull resources back to protect their own necks. Two of the leaders (referred to as CEOs in Syndicate speak) in the Midway system, Iceni and Drakon, are not comfortable with being left unprotected and stage a coups of the system under the very noses of the “snakes” of the ISS, the Syndicate’s not-so-secret police.
In reality, this is a story about trust. Things would go so much easier, if people were able to trust one another and not worry about ulterior motives. Two CEOs who have grown up and risen in the ranks of a system that rival the worst excesses of Stalinism, are now forced to trust one another in order to succeed. To have reached the level they have has required them to never give trust to anyone for any reason, never provide anyone with information that can be used against you and never let your guard down. Now with the limited forces available to them, they need to consolidate their position to prepare a defense against the Alliance, the Syndicate or worse against the alien Enigmas! It’s a race against time. How much easier everything would be if both could be sure of the other’s motives.
The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight is a true page turner as Jack Campbell takes you from one cliff-hanger to the next before you’ve had time to readjust to the newest twist. You feel just a little bit of the paranoia and fear that is an everyday accompaniment to a world that is just getting its first taste of freedom. I look forward to the next book to continue the adventures!
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