Babylon’s Ashes

9780316334747I’m not going to write a super long post on this book. You’ve either been reading the whole series since they’ve been coming out in 2011 or you know it’s not your cup of tea. The first book was Leviathan Wakes. I ate it right up and have read the new one as it’s come out every year. There are also apparently a number of bridging novellas but I haven’t read those and haven’t felt like I’ve missed anything.

Now they’ve started turning them into a television series called The Expanse. The first season is available on Amazon if you’re a Prime member. You’d have to have cable or pay to see the new episodes of the second season which are coming out now.

The show has a lot of the same characters and places and basic overall arc but moves some things around and introduces a few things in different ways and lets the actors do a few things differently than in the books but all of the changes make it interesting to watch since it’s different enough to be interesting. It’s an amazing show but I still really like the depth and richness of the books.

This is a long series (Babylon’s Ashes is the sixth so far) but since they’ve made it clear there will be a definite ending in the ninth book, it’s fine. I was just discussing earlier today a dislike of endless science fiction and fantasy series that tend to go on and on and here I am talking up a nine book series. But they introduce different point of view characters in each book and they even have different genres represented at times in some of these points of view. They are also complete novels on their own. Sure, there’s and overarching narrative, but each book does a good job of ending well enough that it’s not like one long tale that goes on and on.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the fourth book but the last two have been excellent. I don’t know how they do it, especially seeing as how they are both very involved in the making of the television show as well.

One of the great things about this entry in the series is the way they handle the final big battle. I obviously can’t spoil it but this is a series that, like the re-booted Battlestar Galactica television series, has violence baked into it’s DNA. Both small but intense firefights as well as full scale battles. It’s a science fiction action series, so of course it does. But this one plays some interesting games with expectations. In an early, smaller battle our main warrior gets taken off the board for purely banal, technical reasons which frustrate her and make for unexpected outcomes. They play with these kind of expectations more than once in this book but it never seems like anything other than organic to the story. A character who may have been involved in some kind of corporate espionage (for purely altruistic reasons) finds himself in a dark and intimidating interrogation room with some less than friendly characters. What does and doesn’t happen is what the scene, and the book in many ways, is all about. It all culminates into a big, important ending. Important in that all the eyes of the solar system are watching how the confrontation will go because it will change everything for all involved.

The only bad thing about the book is that I was reading it to escape the news and there are some unfortunate similarities with one ego-driven, narcissistic leader character and other ego-driven, narcissistic folks in the real world. But it’s not that similar and this one has, I imagine, a more satisfying ending.


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