I have found something appealing about Mr Campbell’s military fictions, so I was looking forward to reading ‘Tarnished Knight’. This was even more promising since we would be leaving the familiar media of ‘The Lost Fleet’ (that is space) and taking our actions planetside now. I was uncertain if this would prove a good change, but I have my opinions ready now.
Namely, I think the change over to portraying the former Syndics over the Alliance was a good one. There is so much more going on with two former CEO’s trying to understand what power actually means, how to use it, and how to make people follow that power. I guess one of the underlying questions is also into the category of how to preserve power if the basis for your power has been eroded away by your own actions?
Drakon is the character more to my liking, maybe for the reason that he tries to be (seems to be) a more or less honest straight-on guy who just wants to get the job done. And to survive. Survival is pretty high on Drakon’s list, and it seems to be one of the more motivating factors for him to do something; and I don’t think I can really fault the General there. But aside from that he is also loyal towards his men, and he is calculating. And I think he can dream of a better future.
Iceni is a different type of a character, clever and scheming (far more than Drakon). I quite like her due to the mental processes we see her through (the one on naming ships is a personal favourite of mine). I don’t, however, for a second imagine her as shackled by any sort of personal attachment that might keep Drakon from doing something. This, in a way, is a good thing and yet — what does it mean for the people around her?
It is this interplay between Drakon and Iceni — are they enemies or friends? and no matter what they are, what do others think they are? and what do others want to make them look? — that makes ‘Tarnished Knight’ so spectacular. It is a truly interesting view into how people who are on an opposing side to us in so much of what ‘matters’ operate. Or, at least, how they try to operate. We are yet to see them succeed, although for some reason I have my certain confidence that they can.
Overall, I would say that ‘Tarnished Knight’ makes for a very good read. There is that bit of psychological insight into what people are, and there is that necessary measure of action and reaction, not to mention the musings of people on the small details of daily life.