|The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan||
Four Royal Crowns
The novel starts off a bit slow, as the two main characters tell each other things they already know, obviously to inform readers new to the series. I found this awkward for several reasons:
- I feel that if a reader jumps into a series with book 11, they should just accept that they’ll be a bit lost.
- Shortly after this conversation, the fleet jumps into a system where they have to warn people what’s been going on, a much more appropriate point for a recap.
- Again, I feel that this book should have been the second half of Steadfast, making a recap unnecessary.
Once that was out of the way, I enjoyed the rest of the story. Most of the book is devoted to several high-stakes space battles worthy of the series (or perhaps those are just the parts I remember most). In each battle, Admiral Geary has to out-think an artificial intelligence which was programmed using him as a template. To make things worse, the AI ships are newer, faster, and more heavily armed than his own ships.
Two important characters die at the end of the story. The first character’s death seemed insufficiently glorious to me, as if the author was just tired of that person. There was probably a more serious theme behind it, but the event felt abrupt and unimportant. The second character’s death was self-sacrificial and important; it was the kind of death I would have expected for the first character.
There isn’t as much political intrigue in this novel as in the rest of the series. I miss that element, but I suppose that the fleet has seen so much fighting together that it wouldn’t make sense to continue some of the captain vs. captain conflicts, and the recurring theme of the fleet being sabotaged by headquarters even seemed toned down as the crisis threatened the government’s survival.
There are occasional statements that citizens of a poorly-led democracy should look in the mirror, but since there’s never been any description of how the Alliance’s political system works, it’s hard to get on board with that. Why have the citizens elected evil/stupid/corrupt people? Organizations influencing the process for their own ends? Partisan conflict? Cult of personality? We don’t know.
I don’t know whether this novel is the end of the Lost Fleet series. If so, I feel it is a reasonably satisfying conclusion. If not, I’d be willing to ride along on another mission.