Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Dauntless, by Jack Campbell

This is one of those books that you really enjoy while you're reading it. but when you stop and think about it after you realise that it has a lot of flaws.

Jack Greary is working on a routine escort mission when the ships he is protecting are suddenly attacked. Greary heroically goes to his death to allow his crewmembers to escape. 

Except he doesn't die, he just bumps around in space for a hundred years in an escape pod (ala Ripley) until he is found again. Turns out the attack he faced was the opening shot of what has become a century long war, and Greary himself has become a legend.

It's a cool premise, definitely. And Campbell wastes no time before kicking his story into high gear, it's all action go! go! from page one, with the back story dolled out as needed here and there.

The book is also ridiculosly easy to read. A lot of page space is dvoted to space battles which could easily have grown confusing but were surprisingly easy (and exciting) to follow.

I found Greary to be a believable and likeable character if a little.. bland, shall we say? I felt there was no real meat to him, if that make sense. He was also really fond of speeches. And I felt that every over character was there solely to give Greary the chance to launch into these speeches by asking questions that set them up perfectly.

I also felt that there was a dissapointing lack of subtelty in the characters. They were either on Greay's side and good at their jobs, or against Greary and therefor bad at there jobs. It would have been far more interesting to have some of the characters who were against Greary's sudden rise to power also be at least competent.

But these complaints did not stop me from enjoying the book and ripping through it quickly. I liked the questions the book raised about war and heroism, and also how it looked deeply into the effects such a prolonged war would have on people. I liked how the plot progressed, but on the other hand it was a double edged blade. The small, battered force trying desperately to make it home while battered by a much larger force... Battlestar Galactica, anyone? And the thing is Campbell doesn't even try to reach the heights BSG did, but while reading the book all I kept thinking was how much better it would have been if he did.

But I can definitely see myself picking up the next books in this series, and if Campbell improves his characterisation I think these books could be really great.

I bought this book.

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