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The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword by Jack Campbell

7/10 Things need shaking up!

President Gwen Iceni and General Artur Drakon have successfully liberated the Midway Star System - but the former rulers of the Syndicate Worlds won’t surrender the region without a fight. The dictatorial regime has ordered the ex–Syndicate CEOs terminated with extreme prejudice and the system’s citizens punished for their defiance.

Outnumbered and led by junior officers hastily promoted in the wake of the uprising, Midway’s warships are no match for the fleet massing and preparing to strike. But the Syndicate isn’t the only threat facing Iceni and Drakon. Another former CEO has taken control of the Ulindi Star System, the first calculated move toward establishing his own little empire.

With Drakon’s ground forces dispatched to Ulindi, Midway erupts in violence as Syndicate agents and other, unknown enemies stoke a renewed revolt against Iceni’s power - leaving both her and Drakon vulnerable to trusted officers just waiting for an opportune moment to betray them…

I have read the Stark trilogy, the Jag in Space series and a couple of the Lost Fleet series. I am familiar with Campbell’s style and knew what to expect from this latest military sci-fi adventure.

This is another solid space romp with huge battles involving entire fleets of ships, as well as pulsating ground battles: this time on the surface of Ulindi.

There are the usual discussions about tactics, plots and traps, and the themes of factions and politics. Nothing wrong with that, but on this occasion I felt this slowed things down a little and my interest waned at times.

The action sequences described here are first-rate, and you clearly feel the desperation of the combatants during the fighting. Campbell also ensures the reader is aware of the waste and devastation of war: the images of mass graves and scarred landscape are sobering reminders.

I enjoyed this taken as a whole, but feel that this series needs something fresh other than internal bickering, paranoia and plotting, followed by epic battles. It had a ‘read it all before’ quality this time, there is nothing distinguishing this from all Campbell’s previous works. Things need shaking up!

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