Caliban’s War picks up some amount of time after Leviathan Wakes (look, it’s been a while since I started it and the library auto-returned it when I turned on my Wi-Fi). James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have taken work as the OPA’s right hand, and somehow, that’s not the most interesting part of the story. The authors introduce three new POV characters that steal the show and honestly, make Holden and his crew feel like a backdrop.
First up, Bobbie, a badass Martian Marine who wears power armor, flexes a lot, and has a well-written human struggle with PTSD (side note: Holden’s struggle is similarly interesting to read, but this review is supposed to be brief and my parentheticals are already getting far too long aren’t they?). Bobbie is a grounding character in a literary ecosystem filled with polarized extremes of idealists and villains. Her character journey from near-death on the frozen surface of Ganymede, to working with some of the highest-ranking officials of Earth’s government is a joy and a highlight.
Speaking of high-ranking government, Avasarala, the UN Undersecretary with a heart of steel, and filthy silver tongue, is my new favorite character in the series. Full disclosure, I watched a few episodes of the TV show before reading Book 2 and she’s in it from the beginning there, so I had some exposure. As such, I was always picturing the actress, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and it helped me see the character very clearly.
Lastly, I have to mention Prax, because he’s there and the reason for most of the action in the story, but compared to the other two characters, he’s basically white noise. Prax’s sole purpose in the story is to make some bad decisions and motivate the world into yet another global conflict over the protomolecule. The story of him eventually hiring the crew of the Rocinante to chase down rich sociopaths who want to build bioweapons is interesting, but honestly, a very small contributor to why I liked this book so much.
A lot like Game of Thrones (all of the books, and Season 7/8 withstanding), the strength of the story in The Expanse comes from colorful character interactions and rich world-building. On it’s face, the plot of Caliban’s War is a simple kidnapping with a ticking clock, but watching the characters interact in that pressure cooker is gold. Coupled with the fact that the authors’ world continues to surprise and delight, I can’t recommend this series highly enough. Can’t wait to read Book 3, but I have some Expanse novellas to check out before then!
Alright, I don’t write sci-fi that is going to stick around for generations, but I do have a book series about a drunken monster-hunter traipsing through the Himalayas in search of a yeti. The sequel is coming out very soon, so it’s time to catch up! Here’s what some people think:
Kirkus – An often engaging, if sometimes-clichéd, tale with an acerbic lead.
John C. – An excellent drunken romp up and down “Not Everest”, complete with hunters and monsters galore.
Nathan – As the debut novel from a new author, Whiteout was a solid introduction. Readers will find that this will be the first in a series that (hopefully) runs several installments.