Review of “Tiamat’s Wrath,” Book Eight in The Expanse Series

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Tiamat’s Wrath is the eighth novel in the Hugo Award winning “The Expanse” book series by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). This book ramps things up quite a bit from its predecessors. While we’ve seen Earth all but destroyed by asteroids, now an artificial neutron star found through one of the rings, throws out an intense gamma radiation burst, destroying everything in the “slow zone” including Medina Station, plus “disappearing” two of the rings.

Holden is being held prisoner on Laconia, Amos has plain disappeared, Bobbie Draper is leading the rebellion in the Sol system with Alex and other dissidents on the stolen Laconian warship Storm, and Naomi is hiding out on various space craft coordinating the over all fight as the underground’s de facto leader.

This novel is just as enjoyable as the others, and sees the return of Elvi and her husband Fayez (last seen in Cibola Burn). The Laconian dictator Duarte and his various henchmen come back, and Duarte’s fourteen-year-old daughter and heir apparent to the empire Teresa is introduced.

The sweep of the novel is no less than epic and the writing remains consistently strong (I admit to a bit of envy). I won’t try to encapsulate the entire drama, but there were a few points.

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Review of “Persepolis Rising,” Book Seven in the Expanse Series

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Cover art for Persepolis Rising

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I’ve just now finished James S.A. Corey’s (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) book Persepolis Rising, the seventh novel in the Expanse series.

This time, the authors decided to jump over about three decades from the previous book, giving time for Earth to heal thanks in part to Martian terraforming technology (now that terraforming Mars has been abandoned).

The Transport Union, run by belters, is in full swing and Jim Holden and the Rocinante are still doing errands for them; an aging crew and an aging ship.

One of the ring colony worlds, Freehold, seems to be run by (probably) how the authors interpret far-right extremists, all conservative attitudes and guns. Drummer, the current President of the Union running things from a “void city” in Sol’s system, orders their gate to be blockaded as a result of them sending a ship through the ring and nearly causing a disaster.

That would mean cutting Freehold off from vital supplies, killing the colony and everyone on the planet. Holden comes up with a different solution (of course) and Drummer is going to rub his nose in it.

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Review of “Babylon’s Ashes,” Book Six in the Expanse Series

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Cover art for the novel Babylon’s Ashes

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Just finished James S.A. Corey’s (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) book Babylon’s Ashes, the sixth in the Expanse series, and I’m still enjoying it. I can tell though, that it’s influenced by the television counterpart since the tales are becoming increasingly episodic.

For instance, this one picks up pretty much where Nemesis Games left off, though mercifully, Jim Holden and the gang, which now includes both Bobbie Draper and Clarissa “Peaches” Mao, are back on board the Rocinante. Earth is an all but unlivable mess after Marco Inaros (although his kid Filip takes credit for it) threw a few “rocks” on it, Mars has been dropped from the terraforming project like a proverbial hot potato, and the so-called “Free Navy” itself are acting more like a bunch of pirates, hijacking ships and cargo headed for the ring and the colony worlds on the other side.

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Book Review of “Nemesis Games,” Fifth in The Expanse Novel Series

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Cover art for the novel “Nemesis Games.”

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James S. A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and writer Ty Franck, who once again return with Nemesis Games, the fifth edition in the Expanse novel series.

Actually, the first misstep in the story is the raid conducted by the belter thug Filip and his band of any man left behind gets killed on Callisto a year before the book really begins. It’s clear they’re stealing tons and tons of stealth material, stealthy, but that means it still have lots of mass. Yes, they get away with it, but stealth doesn’t mean immaterial (you still have to cover three really, really big rocks with it).

Ever since that moment, the owners act like they can’t figure out what was taken? What? It was stealthy so now that it’s gone, you can’t figure out what was there in the first place? You don’t have cargo manifests? You don’t have lot assignments? I guess it’s to keep the readers from figuring out too soon that the radical Free Navy version of the OPA run by Filip’s Daddy Marco Inaros is going to drop a bunch of rocks on Earth.

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Book Review of “Cibola Burn,” the Fourth in the “Expanse” Series

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Last night, I finished Cibola Burn (2015), which is the fourth book in The Expanse novel series by James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). As with the previous novel Abaddon’s Gate, it was a little difficult for me to get into at first, but once I was hooked, I was hooked hard.

The general plot is pretty straightforward. Now that the Ring is operational and the gateways to other parts of the galaxy are open, a group of belter refugees took their ship on an unauthorized journey through a gate and ended up in another solar system. For a year, they’ve been colonizing Ilus (called New Terra by the UN) and have set up mining facilities. However, the UN has chartered the Royal Charter Energy (RCE) corporation to both scientifically explore and materially exploit the world, seeing the settlers as “squatters.”

A small group of settlers, including Basia Metron who we briefly saw in Caliban’s War (yes, people who have appeared before come back) planning to blow up the landing pad for the RCE ship’s big shuttle as a protest don’t realize the shuttle is on final approach. In trying to abort the explosion, Basia sets it off, either killing or terribly wounding everyone on board including the UN appointed regional governor.

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Book Review of “Caliban’s War,” the Second of the “Expanse” Series

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Promotional artwork for the novel “Caliban’s War”

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Not long ago, I reviewed the first book in the “Expanse” series Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey (pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). Almost always when I read and review the first book in some series, I tend to wander off in a different direction afterward. I did that for N.K. Jemisin’s Hugo award winning The Fifth Season, for David Weber’s On Basilisk Station, for Martha Wells’ All Systems Red, and in fact, for just about every book I’ve reviewed, regardless of how well I did (or didn’t) like them.

However, “Leviathan” really hooked me, so much so, that I immediately checked book two out of the public library. I just finished reading Caliban’s War and absolutely loved it. The quality was just as high as for “Leviathan.” I was reintroduced to familiar characters such as Holden, Naomi, Alex, and Amos as well as new characters such as Prax, Bobbie, and Avasarala.

It begins on the Jovian moon Ganymede, the “bread basket of the belt,” which is the best location to grow the food needed for the colonized asteroids. It’s the best place for pregnant women to gestate to term. It’s also, apparently, the best place to spawn protomolecule monsters.

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Book Review of “Leviathan Wakes,” the First of the “Expanse” Series

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Cover image for the novel “Leviathan Wakes”

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I just finished reading the 2011 science fiction blockbuster Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey (really Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). It’s the first in the nine-book Expanse series and is the basis for the television series The Expanse.

In the future, humanity has spread out from Earth and colonized Mars and the Asteroid Belt (or just “the Belt”). However, political, social, and financial enmity exists between the three populations and tensions could be ignited into war at any moment.

Chapters in this tome alternate between the perspectives of Joe Miller, a burned out, alcoholic detective working for an Earth-funded police force on the asteroid Ceres, and Jim Miller, the executive officer aboard a “water freighter” Canterbury.

On Ceres, the mysteries mount. Why did all of the gangs on Ceres suddenly vanish along with the police’s riot gear? Why has the IPO, the Belter activist group on Ceres, become so reasonable and cooperative? And who is Julie Mao, an heiress-cum-revolutionary, the girl he was supposed to kidnap and ship off to her wealthy parents as a “side job?” Trying to solve Julie’s mystery along with his drinking and general ineptitude get Miller fired, but that’s when his adventure really begins.

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