The Lost Fleet: Relentless (Book 5 of 6)
by Jack Campbell
Cover Artist: Peter Bollinger
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780441017089
Date: 28 April 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
"The sea! The sea!" This was the cheer raised by the Greek mercenaries as they finally reached the shore of the Black Sea after a long and treacherous trek through enemy territory. Thousands of years later, another group of lost soldiers are making their way home. In Relentless they finally make it home. Fewer than when they started, they still have more battles to fight.
Relentless opens shortly after the previous volume Valiant leaves off. There are traitors in the fleet, fuel and arms are low, and another enemy fleet is waiting between the fleet and Alliance Space.
Black Jack Geary will face additional problems when they get home. Everyone expects him to take over the government and help the Alliance defeat the Syndics. The unknown enemy is once again playing its tricks. That enemy collapses a Syndic gate in order to spur retribution against the Alliance, and once again create an increasing cycle of violence. Geary knows who the real enemy is, but must convince others to act. Once he returns to Alliance space, there will once again be officers that outrank him, and politics is more important than competence in the current Alliance Military.
This penultimate entry follows the remnants of the fleet back to Alliance Space. This in itself makes this novel different. When I first started reading this series, I thought the return would signal the end. It doesn't, the return opens the possibility for finding the real enemy and neutralizing it. This is similar to the hidden enemy found in Walter Hunt's Dark Wing series. It is also a tactic that goes back thousands of years. If you keep your enemy fighting another enemy, they will weaken themselves, thus reducing the threat to you.
Geary will also have to face another relative that has suffered under the weight of Black Jack's legacy. In addition, he may also need to face his feelings for his flag captain. He also has to find a way to work with his former lover now that their relationship is over. The path he follows leads everyone home, but l he doesn't know if he will find a place he can call home.
Readers should be aware that they need to read the prior books in this series in order to truly appreciate this novel. It is pretty straightforward military science fiction. The space battles take into account the vast distances and high speed of combat. This is much more realistic than some novels that have instantaneous resolution.
Readers who enjoy Ian Douglas, Walter Hunt, John Ringo, and John Scalzi will find something to like in this series. If they aren't familiar with the aforementioned authors, they should give them a try. Each writes fast paced and entertaining tales.
I am enjoying this series, and I expect that fans of military science fiction will also. The consistent quality and publication of the series is something that readers can count on. I look forward to the final volume in 2010 where Black Jack will move against the hidden enemy and all will be revealed.