Babylon’s Ashes

Babylon’s Ashes by James S.A. Corey

Marcos Inaros and The Free Navy are wreaking havoc in an aggressive power play for control of the solar system.  Having dealt Earth a devastating blow at the conclusion of Nemesis Games, they now turn their attention to the Gates and the many colony ships venturing to new and undiscovered worlds.  As time is running short, Chrisjen Avasarala looks to the crew of the Rocinante for help.  Babylon’s Ashes is the sixth installment in the long-running Expanse series and you’d think that by now, they’d be showing signs of wear and tear.  Not this one – it’s as fresh as the first page of Leviathan Wakes.  I guess there is an advantage to heavily laying out your series after all.

After the game-changing events of Nemesis Games, Babylon’s Ashes focuses on the two warring factions of this brutal battle and how each side is struggling to conform to the upheaval created by the other.  As is the case with most wars, it’s purely trial and error.  Plans are made, battles are fought and the outcomes are largely unpredictable.  Co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (together they make up the pseudonym James S.A. Corey) clearly have a plan, but they do a great job in keeping their readers on their toes by offering up more twists and turns than a faulty garden hose.

In terms of character perspectives, the book has come a long way from Leviathan Wakes which only switched between both James Holden and Detective Miller.  In Babylon’s Ashes, we get a staggering NINETEEN character viewpoints!  Luckily, the groundwork has been put in over the previous five novels to support such a large cast, so it never really feels all that overwhelming as many of these characters are those readers are already familiar with.  I could have done without a few of the lesser ones, but they all serve a purpose, no matter how minor.

I’m not quite sure where the series goes from here, but they have three books remaining (not counting novellas and short stories) to work out the rest of their story.  Come to think of it, Babylon’s Ashes could serve as an end to the series seeing as the following novel jumps ahead three decades, so I’m interested to see what they have planned.

Note: Now that I’m six books into the series, I think I’m safely far enough ahead that the TV series will not spoil anything on me.  Time to start The Expanse!

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