Literature: The Lost Stars
The Lost Stars
is a hard SF series by Jack Campbell
, a spinoff of his The Lost Fleet
series. Taking place shortly after the end of the Alliance-Syndicate War, the Syndicate Worlds have begun collapsing following their defeat in the war. In the star system of Midway, two Syndicate CEOs revolt and free their system from the Syndicate Worlds, to face issues of controlling it themselves, and how to alter its oppressive practices, and defend it from the aliens only a star system away.
- Tarnished Knight
- Perilous Shield
- Imperfect Sword
- A Father to His Men: Drakon is willing to share the burden of combat with his men and avoid useless waste of lives. This didn't sit well with his aggressive and cold-hearted superiors but did wonders to his reputation with the common soldiers.
- All Men Are Perverts: Iceni and Morgan think this.
- Another Side, Another Story: The whole concept of the series, which explores the Syndic side of the end of the war, from Midway's perspective. Iceni and Drakon frequently speculate (incorrectly) about Geary's motives and seem to assume he's running the Alliance now.
- Artistic License – Physics: Humans have faster-than-light travel but not communication, and FTL travel doesn't work within a solar system—so in the many space battles, characters' information is limited by the speed of light. Usually this is done properly, but on a couple of occasions, characters on ship A see distant-ship B's reaction to event C (such as a fleet arriving from hyperspace) before A actually sees C (and they'll even have time to wonder what caused B to act as it did). Geometrically, that just can't happen—no matter where A, B, and C are, A will be able to see C before it can see B's reaction to C.
- Assassin Outclassin': Anyone who's anything in Syndicate Worlds is either extremely good at this or dead.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension:
- Morgan and Malin. To the point where Drakon asks Malin if they're involved. Malin reacts with a tremendous amount of disgust to the question, enough to convince Drakon they aren't.
- Drakon and Iceni. Both of whom are constantly worried the other is going to stab them in the back while also having the causal sexual thought of the other.
- The Chains of Commanding: Iceni
- Colonel Badass: Drakon is this, but gets Kicked Upstairs to Four-Star Badass. Malin and Morgan sub in. Kommodore Mephisa massively levels up in rank to get here, and proves up to the challenge.
- Colonel Kilgore: Morgan is this. For obvious reasons listed on this page.
- Covers Always Lie: For the first time in the series, not the case. This time, the cover depicts Drakon holding a gun, something which he actually does often in the series.
- Dark Messiah: Morgan believes that she can raise her and Drakon's daughter to be a cunning mastermind who can take over all of human space.
- Deuteragonist: Iceni.
- Do You Trust Me?: Gwen and Artur to each other, frequently, in the second context. Artur has specifically said he would trust Gwen implicitly, because he believes she won't betray him. Gwen really wants to believe him.
- Drowning My Sorrows:
- Colonel Gaiene, who's developed a reputation for being a drunken letch due to seeing so much war.
- Drakon indulges in a little of this, leading to a one night stand he did not want to happen.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Rogero and Bradamont, neither of which ever expected to actually pursue a relationship together, but who were lucky enough to be able. They still need to keep it on the down low.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Or, at least, darkish and morally conflicted Grey can't comprehend Good. A dramatically ironic running gag in the series is that both Iceni and Drakon believe Jack Geary to be a shrewd politician and a masterful power broker, interpreting all his charitable and genuinely kindhearted actions through this lens. The Lost Fleet series proper has already revealed this to be severely not the case, and he has no idea he appears as such to them. Notably, they are utterly confounded by his demotion from Fleet Admiral, wondering what could be the purpose behind a reduction in rank. They are floored and disbelieving when told he did it for love.
- They also tend to misread it in themselves, with Iceni in particular having a sort of philosophical crisis as she comes to realize she might disagree more with certain tyrannical and immoral actions that she previously thought.
- Fantastic Drug: Drakon needs to lure some unsuspecting guards onto his ship. He instructs his subordinate to dress as a dock worker, go out, and try to pander some "Happy Stuff" to them, a legendary drug that's never been found.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: Syndicate Worlds had so much big-time corruption and petty fraud going on that any official data on anything were basically only useful as propaganda, with secret police being about the only thing that really worked (then again, they got overthrown in many systems, even with fanatically loyal troops, ubiquitous surveillance and near-perfect lie detectors at their disposal.)
- First Name Basis: Iceni finally gets fed up with their last name basis and insists Drakon call her by her first name, Gwen. Drakon then insists Iceni call him by his first name, Artur.
- Flaw Exploitation: ISS will believe any CEO is overconfident.
- Green-Eyed Monster: A subtle version with Iceni, who gets really mad when Malin tells her about how Morgan slept with Drakon, and then quickly turns around and wonders whether she was actually taking the news personally.
- The Syndics, regarding Geary and the enigmas. He found out more in a year than they did in a century.
- Grey and Black Morality: Both Drakon and Iceni have made and continue to make morally questionable decisions, but they're by far better than what they're trying to replace.
- Hidden Villain: By Perilous Shield, is becomes apparent someone other than leftover Syndicate World agents are messing with Midway, only being noticeable when they purposefully act sloppy enough to appear as Syndicate agents. The most mysterious piece of the puzzle is the early, before more obviously influential people, assassination of an otherwise ordinary officer, who was also noted to have been kept around despite apparently being a mediocre soldier.
- I Gave My Word: Drakon, to four ISS agents.
- I Know You Know I Know: Comes up frequently, since everyone is expecting everyone else to backstab them.
- Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Not literally, but Drakon and Iceni decide they need to break with Syndic naming conventions as a way of distinguishing themselves as different from their former masters. Each decides to adopt the title General and President respectively, giving their military actual ranks instead of corporate titles, and even naming their ships.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Morgan is sexually attractive, and not afraid to use it to confuse or take advantage of men, Because All Men Are Perverts.
- Its Pronounced Tropay: Readers may be tempted to read the name of the planet Kane as similar to 'cane', but it's in a group of Hawaiian themed planets and thus far more likely pronounced 'kah-nay', with long vowels.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Invoked in a passage leading up to a Title Drop in Tarnished Knight
- Knight in Sour Armor: Drakon is the Tarnished Knight.
- Last Stand: ISS forces
- Luke, You Are My Father: Malin tells Drakon that he knows that Morgan is his mother. His adoptive mother was one of the attending doctors before what was expected to be a suicide mission.
- Majorly Awesome: Rogero and Gaiene are this, despite being Colonels, as they don't have quite the authority of Malin and Morgan (despite all of them having the same rank) and are actually in the fighting more often.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Iceni at one point tries very hard to argue herself into believing its a coincidence.
- Meaningful Name: The "tarnished knight" of the title is named Artur Drakon (cf. Arthur Pendragon).
- He had a one night stand with crazy chick Morgan, one of his closest adviser is Malin and his female counterpart is named Gwen.
- Mommy Issues: It's safe to say Malin has these, as he sought out transfer under Drakon specifically to find Morgan, and stayed with Morgan to protect her. As well as Drakon from her.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Iceni very likely accidentally ordered the assassination of an annoying political opponent in a fit of rage, and it shocks her enough to make an agreement with Drakon to stop all assassination attempts by either.
- Out with a Bang: A Snake gets taken out this way
"But the climax was a bit more intense then the snake was prepared for."
"The old tricks are the best" Iceni said dryly.
- Production Foreshadowing: Since this series takes place concurrently with the Lost Fleet sequel series, but lags behind in releases, there's occasional spoilers from Beyond the Frontier that hint at the future in each book of this series.
- Psycho Supporter: Morgan is this to Drakon in spades, as he fully realizes when he learns that her psych eval was fake and she has serious issues.
- Post-Victory Collapse: Kontos and his forces
- Powder Keg Crowd: The planet, after the security forces are destroyed.
- Pride: Drakon appears like this, for Flaw Exploitation.
- Properly Paranoid: Everyone, since the Syndicate system formented this on purpose as a way to pit their underlings against each other, to keep them from rebelling against the Syndicate leaders.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: The general premise for why people end up stationed at Midway.
- Running Gag: As with the Lost Fleet series, a number of jokes are centered on present day idioms and turns of phrase that have had their context lost to time by the period the books take place in. For instance, Iceni's assitant Togo advises several new names to replace CEO, among them "the Man" and "the Big Cheese," both of which are only known to have been ancient indicators of status.
- And, as stated above, Iceni and Drakon amusingly read Geary as much more politically cunning than he really is, turning his casual and sincere charity into masterful maneuvers to get their support and help himself.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Hardrad exploits their inability to do this to humiliate.
- Token Good Teammate: Marphissa, who is genuinely dedicated making Midway more free, and helps push Iceni consider more reforms.
- Shout-Out: To Honor Harrington series. When Iceni decides to name her cruisers for mythical creatures the first three names she settles on are "Manticore," "Gryphon" and "Basilisk".note
- Spell My Name with an "S": Iceni's new naval ranks.
- Spin-Off: Type 11. A few very minor characters in The Lost Fleet become the main characters for this series.
- Surprise Pregnancy: Inverted. Morgan knew she was pregnant and purposefully had sex with Drakon because she thought they would have an especially talented child. Drakon is the one who is surprised to learn this.
- In a double Whammy, this is revealed by Malin almost immediately after Malin reveals he himself is the result of a previous surprise pregnancy involving Morgan, one which neither she nor the likely one-night stand father know about at all.
- Theme Naming:
- Midway and all the planets that surround it have Hawaiian themed names.
- The names 'Gwen Iceni,' 'Artur Drakon,' 'Roh Morgan,' 'Malin' and others allude to Arthurian legend.
- UST: Drakon and Iceni. With the subtly of a brick.
- The Vamp: Morgan.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Averted. Iceni and Drakon assume Geary is this, because they are so jaded, they cannot believe he is sincere.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Drakon with Morgan. When he wakes up he hopes last night had been a very vivid dream, until he feels the scratch marks on himself and sees the torn sheets.
- What Would X Do?: In the first battle, Iceni succeeds by pondering what Black Jack would do. Later, she has studied his battles more systemically.
- Of course, this does go a bit against the answer to that question she came up with in the first battle — "Not follow the rules."
- With Due Respect: "I have just contradicted a CEO to her face."
- Would Not Hurt A Child: Why Drakon protects the families of security agents.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Both Iceni and Drakon are the subject of this both directly and indirectly.
- You Are in Command Now: Kontos
- Your Head A Splode: CEO Hardrad
Morgan "He was working away at activating those detonation codes when his brains got turned into wallpaper"