New York Times bestselling author Jack Campbell returns with the next chapter in the overthrow of the Syndicate Worlds’ oppression Following a successful coup, the leaders of the rebel Midway Star System struggle to forge a government free enough to please its citizens yet strong enough to secure power. But in a world where former rulers have become new foes, an alien threat to humanity may turn old adversaries into uncertain allies. General Artur Drakon knows three words describe someone who confides in a Syndicate CEO: Stupid. Betrayed. Dead. Despite his misgivings, he partnered with another former CEO to overthrow Syndic forces. Now, with an enigma fleet menacing their hard-earned independence, he can ill afford to trust her—or lose her support. President Gwen Iceni believes Midway is humanity’s defense against the enigmas. Syndicate training taught her self-preservation in a crisis, yet she’s determined to fight for the star system’s fate even if it means joining forces with Drakon—and an officer of the hated Alliance. Their plan places the Midway flotilla at great risk in hopes of greater reward: recruiting the personnel necessary to man warships against the enigmas. But before facing the alien advance, Drakon and Iceni must survive hidden dangers closer to home: all-too-human threats that could jeopardize Midway’s freedom and their own lives.
The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield by Jack Campbell, the alias of John G. Hemry, a retired United States naval officer is the second in The Lost Stars series. This series is actually a spinoff from the other ten books in his Lost Fleet continuity. Suffice to say, if a reader hasn’t read any of the previous novels, this is not where they should start. Unfortunately, it’s also not a very strong installment in the series.
Campbell’s books are, as whole, great for anyone who wants the drama of intergalactic battles but doesn’t want to waste much time with learning about the characters that populate the stories. In Perilous Shield, the decreased number of space battles means that the lack of character development is painfully obvious.
The first book in this series introduced readers to a group of ex-Syndicate Worlds officers. They come from a culture that excels at Borgias-esque behavior. Paranoia, assassinations and conspiracy are the norm, but somehow they all pulled together in order to build an independent star system and that could withstand their enemies. This premise would seem ripe for rich characterization against a political and intergalactic landscape.
However, characters such as Colonel Rogero, officer of the ground forces, President Gwen Iceni and Alliance liaison officer Captain Bradamont, who has a romantic history with Colonel Rogero are little more than cut outs and move through the story without having much effect on it, or each other.
This issue is later compounded with an operatic turn that would fit in well on daytime television, and two of the women take on the sort of rivalry that only seems to crop up in books written by certain male authors, and the book loses whatever credibility it sought to build for this series.
Space battles are all well and good, but nobody should have to put up with such ridiculous and unnecessary drama all for a few exploding spaceships.