Book Review: The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan by Jack Campbell

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leviathanWow, this article’s title has a lot of colons in it. Anywho, I just finished reading Jack Campbell’s (a.k.a. John G. Hemry) new book, Leviathan. This is the 5th book (and final?) in the Beyond the Frontier story arc and the 11th book in the Lost Fleet universe (if you don’t count The Lost Stars books). So what did I think about the next chapter in this long running series?

Leviathan starts off from where Steadfast left out. Admiral John “Black Jack” Geary is leading the Alliance First Fleet into a confrontation with the “dark ships”. These are the AI-controlled and automated warships built by a covert faction of the Alliance government to use against the military in case they ever decided to stage a coup. Now, however, they are out of control and are attacking anyone and anything that gets in their way. With the aid of his alien allies, the Dancers, Geary plans to end their threat before they carry out a genocide on an interstellar scale, even if it means sacrificing himself and everyone who serves under him.

What is there to say about the next book in a series that is already in the double digits? Leviathan is a fine book that continues an engaging storyline (with some added social commentary regarding a certain intelligence agency who misuses technology because they don’t trust their own fellow citizens). It has its issues, for example, the ever-constant need to reintroduce a lot of characters and story rules in the first few chapters for people who have forgotten them since the last book. The characters are interesting, but Hemry/Campbell continues to refuse to describe what they actually look like, leaving it up to the imagination of the reader.

The realistic space battle physics, which has always been the hallmark of the series, are once again on display and fun to read, even if it does require a lot of hand-waving of the more annoying aspects of space travel (i.e. FTL, artificial gravity, etc.). Perhaps Leviathan‘s greatest improvement from the entire series is that the book cover depicts an actual scene from the story. This has been a major flaw in the entire Lost Fleet series and the fact that it took until book eleven is, I guess, a better late than never type of situation.

And…that’s pretty much it. There isn’t much else to say about Leviathan. Fans of the series will enjoy it, especially the twisty, yet touching, ending, but new readers will be so lost its perhaps better they don’t pick up a copy at all. The Lost Fleet series is absolutely something you need to start from the beginning, regardless of how many times the author needs to remind the reader how ships orient themselves in space by using the position of the star. I absolutely recommend picking up the first book, but don’t try to read Leviathan until you are ready to commit to a very long series.

To be fair, The Lost Fleet is one of two long running book series I still subscribe to and I am pleased it still manages to entertain and improve. I enjoyed Leviathan and if you are ready to make a big reading committment, I think you will (eventually) enjoy it to.

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