-This review contains spoilers for Vanguard and Ascendant, proceed with caution-
Series: The Genesis Fleet (#3)
Genre: Military SF
Publication Date: 30/05/2019
The scattered worlds of humanity have stood alone for too long. It’s time for them to come together…
Straight upfront I will say that Jack Campbell is one of the best Military SF writers in the business. Ever single instalment in the Lost Fleet universe has been a 5-star read, and Triumphant is no exception. Quite simply, it is the most impressively realistic series out there, and there’s enough to keep even the busiest reader satisfied for months. If you’re new to the series, this is not a good place to start, but if you’re a returning reader, then you’ll love this as much just as the rest.
We begin by picking up the pieces left by Ascendant. Kosatka is occupied by mercenary bands, Glenlyon is facing imminent invasion by a superior force, and Lochan Nakamura’s attempts at building an alliance are not going well at all. It’s a book that hits the ground running and carries on at a breakneck pace for all its length. There’s a lot of ground to be covered, both physically and thematically, and Trumphant does not waste its time getting to the meat of its storytelling.
There’s a problem faced by all prequels, in that we sort of know how things will end. We know Anakin becomes Darth Vader, we know the Butlerians defeat the thinking machines. In this case, we know the Alliance must inevitably arise. The question is not if, not even when, but how these events will come to pass. With a cast of unknowns alongside the obvious ancestors of Lost Fleet favourites, there’s still an element of risk. At times it stretches belief that the relatives of both Desjani and Geary would be present at these formative events for the Alliance, but this is neatly referenced by the Epilogue, and its hard to take fault with in what is otherwise a masterful novel.
As always, Campbell’s unique approach to space combat is what separates this book from hundreds of others. With the speed of light being adhered to, battles here are as much a game of mathematics as they are epic duels between brave captains. There really is no one who does it quite like Campbell. One thing I had not noticed in the previous two volumes of this trilogy is that the top speeds of ships and weaponry is barely a tenth of what we see in the Lost Fleet proper. It’s a small touch, but a nice way of avoiding the static technology levels that affects other prequels.
As with the rest of the trilogy, there a distinct focus on ground combat too. Mele Darcy and her Marines are pivotal throughout, and these fights are just as vividly realised as their dep-space counterparts. The guerilla warfare on occupied Kosatka is also done well, capturing the fear and intensity of a city under siege. It’s the first return to full ground combat since Campbell’s early Stark’s War series, and he has lost none of his skill in writing it.
The Lost Fleet universe now consists of the original six books, this prequel trilogy, a sequel series of five books, a spin-off quartet and an original comic book side story. That’s a lot for any single-author universe, but there is more to come. Campbell promises that his next books will take the series forward into the future once more. i for one, cannot wait.