Babylon’s Ashes (2016) – James

It’s time to go back to the ‘verse of the Expanse, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have missed these characters. Within a few pages, I was back into that world, recalling all that had happened before, and worrying about the new dangers and old enemies that the crew of the Rocinante are going to encounter.

Holden, Naomi, Amos, Alex, Clarissa and Bobbie find themselves caught in the middle of a civil war as Inaros Marcos and his (and Naomi’s) son, Filip continue to unify the Belters against Earth and Mars.

Earth is recovering from the devastating attack Marcos launched on it at the end of the previous novel, and events spiral out of control rather quickly for the entire solar system.

Like the previous novels this one engages in high space opera, but keeps the human moments, that have become inherent to the universe, firmly in place. Familiar names, and enemies turned allies come together to take on Inaros, but will it be enough, and will they all survive?

That is the thing that weighed on me through the entire book, especially as new crew were added to the Roci, sooner or later, someone, a beloved character isn’t going to survive the tale.

I love these characters, and it’s always fun to check in with them, whether they are main or supporting. Falling into their world again is always a joy, even when I get anxious on how events are going to play out and who lives, and who dies.

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This truly is the way space opera should be written. It continues to feel as epic as Galactica and as story and character-centric as Firefly was. The authors seem to have a long range plan for all of the characters as story threads that started a book or so ago begin to pay off.

The only problem with the book is that even at over 500 pages, it ends too quickly, and now begins the long wait for the next novel, Persepolis Rising, to come along later this year.

I just hate the wait. I want more and more of this universe, it’s so beautifully and completely created, and the characters have become almost friends.

The story is epic, and plays out against the more epic nature of the rest of the created universe, the protomolecule ring gates, and the worlds beyond.

The most stunning thing that is revealed, about halfway through the book, is the timeline for mankind in this solar system if the political parties, the people and the events can’t work together.

There are so many things I loved about this book, but the thing that is going to stick with me for awhile is the resolution at the ending of the book as well as the knowledge of surviving characters and Holden’s interviews to put a human face on the war.

These books are massive, amazing, and demand to be read. If you’re looking for smart storytelling, compelling characters and a completely realised universe, you can’t do better than this.

Check them out! And check out season 2, airing now!!!

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