Babylon’s Ashes, by the writing team of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. picks up not long after Naomi got space ejected by her crazy ex, Marco, the asshat that started launching meteors at Earth.
This Free Navy crippled humanity on Earth in response to pioneers trying to take to the far stars through the gate that an alien species left in its wake. The Free Navy forces the rest of humanity to pull together to try and deal with this common threat, but the man who leads the Free Navy is a brilliant tactician, and when his tactics don’t work, he manipulates the situation to his advantage to make it look like that’s what he planned to do.
And he’s not wrong in his nasty tactics, as it pulls the old political powers of the solar system apart.
The powers-that-be call upon James Holden and his crew of the Rocinante to help deal with the problem, but the problem hits multiple fronts with multiple resources.
It ain’t pretty. There are wins, losses and scenarios that come from events from this latest chapter, and worst of all, the new alliance that is forced to come together is tenuous at best.
But in the noise, we are given a wonderfully tactful lesson in politics, delivered by Chrisjen Avasarala, to a newbie political player. It’s wisdom about political interactions compacted into a few words that I really appreciated:
-Strength by itself is just bullying.
-Capitulation by itself is an invitation to get railroaded.
-Only mixed strategies survive.
-Everything is personal, but they know that too.
-They can smell pandering like a fart.
-If you treat them like they’re a treasure box where if you just tweak them the right way, the policy you want falls out, you’ve already lost.
-They’ll misjudge you, so be ready to use that.
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In Babylon’s Ashes, we see less of the protomolecule and more of the Free Navy. The book propelled the story of our universe forward more than the individual stories of our characters. But don’t get me wrong, we learn more about everyone on interpersonal levels, giving more depth to everyone we’ve come to know in the series. It felt like the writers were trying to build more of a geo-political world than the potential of what the protomolecule left behind. Except for all the ships that kept disappearing into the ring gate. But that’s another detail to be enjoyed in the story.
This book is yet another exciting addition to The Expanse series, the science feels wonderfully real as we experience what it may truly be like when ships face off in battle, pulling hi-g maneuvers that nearly kill members of the crew to win battles. You get a whole new appreciation for the reality in the fiction.
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This book series has been compared to Game of Thrones, and though I normally shy away from novels with intricate political plots, these underpinning make it more easily digestible.
It’s a great space opera, great read and a wonderful time-killer.
The TV series on Syfy, if you have watched it, does not do this book series justice. They’ve manipulated the story to fit the realm of television entertainment. They skim over critically fun or important aspects of the story and draw out conversations that barely occurred to fill out TV hour time. The second season is better than the first, but they’re still glossing over details that would otherwise be great issues to cover.
But the books are so good that they’re they only Kindle editions I’ll pay the full price for.
The only thing I was a bit disappointed with was how our writers telegraphed the end of the story. No real surprise ending after telegraphing, but still a great read, no matter what.
I fully recommend the read.
The Expanse book series includes these titles:
And there are a few short fiction pieces out there too.
Do you need to read the book series to read Babylon’s Ashes? Not really. It helps, but the book can stand by itself to some degree. BUT reading the entire series is sooo good.