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Book Review

Book Cover

The Lost Stars
Book 3
Imperfect Sword


Author: Jack Campbell
Publisher: Titan Books
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 78329 244 8
Publication Date: 07 October 2014

Having broken away from the Syndicated World Empire, President Gwen Iceni and General Artur Drakon find themselves beset with enemies from within and without. Desperate to save her fledgling new freedoms, Iceni feels ill at ease in trusting Midway's population, even though she realises that only with their help will Midway be able to remain a free state. In an effort to consolidate the safety of her system, as well as enacting a little payback, Iceni sends Drakon and half of her forces to Ulindi to liberate the star system, only to discover that not all hopes go to plan...

The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword (2014. 415 pages) is the third in a series of books, which itself is an offshoot of Jack Campbell’s successful Lost Fleet series.

Both series have been so structured that, as a reader, you’re either going to love or hate them. The series fall into the sub genre of hard military science fiction, so there is an understandable focus on military engagements.

Previously these have mainly been set in space with the relativistic speeds permissible and meant that space battles would consist of many pages of planning, as ships took hours or days to engage with each other, and then sudden, violent battle. The new novel also contains much of this, so if you love it, you’re getting more. Added to the mix is the much more fluid and personal descriptions of ground troops fighting. In truth this is a nice departure as the set up and descriptions of the battles in space started to become a little samey, which they would do in a universe defined by Newtonian physics.

The second story strand found in the novels is that relating to politic and personal challenges. With Black Jack returned to the Alliance, Iceni is very much left on her own to not only steer her world into a better form of government, but also to challenge and overcome her own internal fear and prejudices, formed after too many years as a CEO with the power of life and death over her subordinates.

For fans of the series Campbell continues to be able to place layer upon layer, ramping up the action throughout the book, in his own recognisable style. There are still weaker portions. Characters very often remain extensions of their position and world outlook, not that this hasn’t improved as the two series have progressed, and in this respect the first books of the Lost Stars is as good as The Lost Fleets' last novels and better than its first.

With more going on with differing locations and a range of minor characters now coming to the fore, Imperfect Sword is a general improvement. Whilst there is repetition within the series, there is enough differentiation within this single novel.

Overall, the book works as an action packed entertainment, if considered as a stand-alone story, but to appreciate the history and nuances of the plot this is not the place to start.


Charles Packer

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