Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“My life has become a single on-going revelation that I haven’t been cynical enough.”
This is the kind of cheery thought one is apt to have when facing a narcissistic megalomaniac who has gained power by convincing some people that all their problems can be blamed on other groups while setting humanity on a self-destructive path it may not be able to recover from.
Geez, I thought I read science-fiction to escape reality.
The Expanse series took an epic dark turn in the last one, and this book is mainly about dealing with the fall-out from that as well as trying to resolve the new threat that arose. The short term stakes involve a fight to control the outposts outside of Earth and Mars, but the longer view will determine nothing less than the fate of humanity itself.
Like the other books this has a self-contained story that features all kinds of political intrigue and strategy as well as a healthy dose of interesting characters riding around in spaceships being all Pew-Pew!. Which is what The Expanse does really well as a general rule. The new wrinkle here is that because this is the aftermath of catastrophic events that there’s a tone of shock and even a certain wistfulness in this one. Things will never be what they once where and everyone knows it. This makes the conflict here literally a fight for the future, and all the characters are under enormous amounts of pressure because of it.
There was one element I wasn’t entirely happy about. (view spoiler)[ I absolutely loved the set up at the end that the Rocinante crew is essentially facing an Alamo situation where their best option is to die well while taking as many of their enemies with them as they can. However, it seemed like more than a little bit of cheat that they simply manage to make the Free Navy ships vanish via the ring gates, and it seems way too easy of an end for Marcos Inaros. (hide spoiler)] On the other hand there’s still story to be told so I’m trying to set aside any feelings of mild disappointment I have about the ending here because it’s likely that there is more pay-off coming.
As always after finishing one of these I’m left wanting more and am already counting the days until the next book releases. It helps that we’ve got the second season of the TV show coming to fill the gap between books.
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