Dauntless by Jack Campbell is the first book of his military science fiction series, The Lost Fleet. It tells of the adventures of John “Black Jack” Geary, a military commander from a previous era whose legend has become more than the man. After a century in an escape pod, Geary discovers that the military’s tactics and behavior has changed drastically, and is now fighting a war it cannot seem to win. As he tries to adjust to his new situation, Geary is suddenly placed in command of a shattered fleet far behind enemy lines. Now not only must he flee from enemy pursuit, he must also avoid the traps set by his enemies from within the fleet.
Dauntless is not a complex read by any means, yet that is part of its appeal. Much of today’s science fiction stories are very intricate and the reader needs a PhD to understand. Dauntless offers the reader a chance to just enjoy a good story without it being bogged down by long, detailed explanations of why something works. Geary’s struggle with the hero worship and the obstinacies of the fleet brings out Campbell’s view of the need for strong leadership in difficult and extraordinary situations. Recommended for those who want a lighter version of David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.