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The Expanse #7

Persepolis Rising

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In the thousand-sun network of humanity's expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife-edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the ageing gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.

In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and the Belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance, still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity - and the power to enforce it.

New technologies clash with old, as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient pattern of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity - and of the Rocinante - unexpectedly and for ever…

560 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 5, 2017

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James S.A. Corey

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Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
400 reviews2,180 followers
April 4, 2020
Posted at Heradas

"Your empire's hands look a lot cleaner when you get to dictate where history begins, and what parts of it count."

This one changes things. I assumed that the pace was going to quicken, since Persepolis Rising is moving us into the final three Expanse novels, but I am in awe at how much this book moved the series forward from where we left off in Babylon’s Ashes . We are now nearing the end of the long Expanse arc that began with Leviathan Wakes in 2011, and it is thrilling to see where we're heading.

As far as the story goes: The only constant is change, and empires aren’t built overnight. That rise to power is fraught with great and terrible things. There are good and bad people on multiple sides of every argument. History is full of grey, contradictions, and passionate people with good intentions committing atrocities for their causes. Persepolis Rising feels like the story of the necessarily messy history between A and B. The history that usually gets rewritten by the victors.

This narrative also brings with it some unique adaptation challenges for the Amazon television series. Thirty years have passed between the end of Babylon's Ashes and the beginning of Persepolis Rising, making most of the crew of the Rocinante at least in their seventies. Of course, these are "future humanity" seventies, and it is hinted that there is regenerative medicine available. Seventies may be the new thirties.

“It seemed to her that the real sign you were getting old was when you stopped needing to prove you weren’t getting old.”

As much as I want this series to last forever, I'm a firm believer that good stories end, and great stories end well. Persepolis Rising is setting up the Expanse saga for inclusion in the latter category.

I can’t wait for Tiamat’s Wrath in 2019, with the final Expanse novel to follow in 2020. I believe a tenth book which collects the short stories and novellas together in print for the first time is scheduled to follow in 2021.
Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.3k followers
September 29, 2020
I have a Booktube channel now! Subscribe here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRjh...

3.5/5 stars

This was another good volume in The Expanse, but I must say that the series is starting to overstay its welcome to me.

“I actually read history. It’s like reading prophecy, you know.”

Persepolis Rising is the seventh book in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey, and I’m glad to say that it signaled the beginning of the end of the series. Now that I’m seven books into the series, I think I will now admit—with much pain—that this series is slightly overrated to me. I really feel that the series has hit its peak at Nemesis Games and there is no sign of it ever reaching that state again; I obviously welcome Tiamat’s Wrath or Leviathan’s Fall to prove me wrong. For those of you who don’t know, Persepolis Rising featured the biggest time jump—thirty years if I’m not mistaken—in the series so far, but really, if it wasn’t mentioned in the narrative, I probably wouldn’t have guessed it’s been that long.

“Your empire’s hands look a lot cleaner when you get to dictate where history begins and what parts of it don’t count.”

That could be the intention of the narrative; no matter how long time passes, history, violence, and conflicts will keep on repeating itself. Dictatorship and different factions keeps on rising to make sure the crew of Rocinante never catches a break, and this is once again highlighted here. But I’m a bit curious. If it’s true that thirty years have passed, how come nothing seems to have changed for each of the crew of Rocinante personality-wise and feelings-wise. We’re speaking about thirty years here, not just a few years. Time-skip isn’t particularly a new thing for Daniel Abraham—one of the duo of James S.A. Corey—to put into his story, he has done it in his Long Price Quartet series, and I personally found what he put in Long Price Quartet to be significantly better than what he implemented in The Expanse.

“Because we’re human, and humans are mean, independent monkeys that reached their greatness by killing every other species of hominid that looked at us funny.”

However, these were minor issues I had with the book. At the end of the day, my issues with Persepolis Rising are the same issues I had with the series; history repeats itself. I could read about the crew of Rocinante as long as it takes; give me stories about them non-stop from their POV. Corey’s characterizations for this crew is nothing short of great, and I enjoyed every moment of my time with them. For the past six books, we spent most of our reading time reading through Holden’s perspective. Here? He was missing for almost the entirety of the second half of this novel. The absence of Holden did give a new tension and emotion to the storyline, but it also means I have to read more of the new character’s POV. By this entry, I pretty much have close to zero emotional connection to all the new characters.

“Don’t let things sit for too long. It’s always tempting to just ignore the things that aren’t actually on fire just at the moment, but then you’re also committing to spend your time putting out fires.”

Persepolis Rising felt like a new foundational volume; it’s like the beginning of a new trilogy within The Expanse series. Thankfully, the book did end very strongly, but I won’t be keeping my hopes up for the next one. I have sounded pretty negative, but believe me, this was overall still a good book; the problems I had with it just stood out to me more than the good parts—the crew of Rocinante is great to follow as always. I won’t lie; I’m reading The Expanse right now just for completionist sake. I have come this far, there’s no way I’m stopping now. Onwards to Tiamat’s Wrath next month.

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Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,913 followers
December 6, 2018
Re-Read 12/5/18:

Since reading all these books in a row, I can now honestly compare all the books against each other without long waits in between. Conclusion?

Yeah, this latest one is definitely one of my favorites. All that buildup about protomolecules and what killed the alien civilization is finally coming to a head. The questions are asked seriously. And now we're getting big hints about things to come.

The extinction of the human race?

Possibly. :) But really, I just wanna see the Roci all decked out in protomolecule shit for xmas. Pretty please?

Original review:

I think I like this more than most of the other Expanse books, and that's saying a lot. I actually loved them all.

That being said, OMG I can't believe all the changes we get thrown into! The whole team is together, all my favorite (living) characters from the other books together on the Rosie, but it's simply wild to see how much time has passed. Jim and Naomi are talking retirement for void's-sake.

Let me be very clear, though, when I started reading this I thought to myself, "Is this the final wrap up? A last adventure?" To be honest, I was fairly okay with that, but then the authors threw me for a loop. So much big action happens and it affects almost 2000 established star systems. This is not just a wrap up of old threads. This is a setup for something even bigger and badder. Remember the whole question about what killed off the alien civ? But first, we've got some of the best grey baddies building EMPIRE out on the fringes. :)

This is the best part of having a tale pass a lot of time. So much has changed. I love it. It's fresh. And of course it's a blast to see random people say, "James f***ing Holden". :)

But beyond all the great big stuff going on, the novel is full of fantastic little moments that are so hard to get through without laughter and a bit of tears. I think of the scene between Bobby and Amos the most. :)

So damn fun! This is the gold standard for Space-Opera for me. :)
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
769 reviews3,500 followers
March 13, 2020
So some time has passed and a new setting has to be established and what is better for that than new colonies, a fragile peace between Mars, Earth and the belt, a new enemy rising and waiting in the background, and the general preparation for the big showdown of the series.

It´s always hard to avoid spoiling, so I will cherrypick colonizing, getting old in space in Sci-Fi in general, and the Lovecraftian old ones from this part.

Colonizing thousands of star systems doesn´t just significantly boosts the probability of humankind surviving wars with extraterrestrials, local catastrophes such as supernovas, or extermination wars if some human fractions go haywire and turn genocidal, it also increases the chance of attracting attention. Not to talk of all the plot options that for instance Dr.Who and the two Star franchises used for expanded universes. The authors are now in the position of choosing the best ideas Sci-Fi has given us so far and to mix it together to an unforgettable space opera cocktail that really kicks in. Just one more, barkeeper, please, can´t get enough. Of course, colonizing can´t take place without repeating errors of history by establishing the best and worst forms of government. Again. In space. Coming from enlightened democracies, but thinking that´s so boring, so why not try a dictatorship once again, sounds fun, autocracy rocks.

But what if it´s more difficult, like, let´s say, on earth were many small principalities may have a loose, democratic union, but are too weak and militarily not coordinated enough to fight the invasion of a global superpower. Beamed to space, humankind is the principality and the superpower are possible alien invaders. What sense does it make if all the democratic, helpless mini-states get invaded and exterminated one after the other if one benevolent dictator could unite them to form a strong union against the invaders and have a real chance against them? Is it better to become extinct with the right to vote or to survive in a not sooo evil autocratic state?

The idea that the crew got old and we see how they evolved is a fine twist, the influence of youth and seniority, of wisdom and curiosity, playing with age tropes, is always a productive endeavor and tends to be combined with a bit of time travel or parallel universes. But we are in the Expanse universe, so no too unrealistic technologies (for humans), just a boost for the character development and the question of how living longer and longer until immortality enters the stage may influence human life. Might get handy if it happens when the colonies or habitats are already found of finished because otherwise, it could get a bit overcrowded on earth.

The mystery about what might be lurking in the shadow is a basic element of many genres and human nature in general and horror trivializes it down to a terrifying, but not so world-shattering happening with local spooky events. Except if one is in the haunted, abandoned mental asylum stupid friends thought would be fun to illegally enter at the anniversary of when one escaped inmate butchered a whole family. In Sci-Fi, the evil spirits and ghosts are just the appetizer for the real dark monster in the background, lurking for eons, possibly immortal, emotionless or too highly evolved for useless feelings, bodyless entities, motivated by conquering, destroying, and from time to time studying and dissecting the one or other experimental animal. Assimilate, exterminate, resistance is futile.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
This series has some of the most amazing and massive tropeinity I´ve ever seen.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,749 followers
August 31, 2020
Once you get seven books deep into a series it gets really tricky to review because you can’t talk about even the basic story set-up without spoiling stuff for anyone who hasn’t read the previous books. Since I’m really trying to encourage any sci-fi fan to check out The Expanse I don’t want to just spoiler tag the whole thing either. So how to discuss in a way that won’t ruin it for the newbs yet still be an informative review?

Weep for me, people of Goodreads!

Here’s what I can safely say to everyone: The plan is for this to be a nine book series, and it’s essentially a three act structure with three books per act. So we’re starting the end run with this one, and that’s clear from the jump. A lot of time has passed since the last book, and our main characters can now claim senior discounts. In fact, some of them are even thinking about retirement. However, one of the lingering plots from an earlier book comes back in a big way and all of humanity might find itself under the boot of a dictator if something isn’t done. And all of this struggling among people scattered among the stars continue to take place as a potential alien threat simmers in the background.

Since this is essentially set-up for the final phase of the overall story there’s a lot left up in the air, but like the previous books it’s also an entertaining self-contained sci-fi tale by itself. At this point we’ve been living in this universe for a good long while so that we know all the ins-and-outs of it as well as what to expect from the story. What continues to be fresh and engaging is that the co-authors who make up the James SA Corey name come up with new spins on moving forward so that it hasn’t become stale and formulaic.

For example, this is a book in which a whole lot of people find themselves under the authority of an autocratic ruler with an army of true believers who believe anything he says. (Sounds familiar.) As you’d expect the story becomes about a resistance rising up among the conquered people, but what’s interesting is that there’s no immediate way to win. No Death Star to blow up, no magic computer virus, no chosen one to lead them to victory. Beating these guys will mean a long term strategy of resistance and a whole lot of blood will be shed in the process.

On the heels of that is that these bad guys don’t exactly act like villains. Yes, they’re smug jerkfaces whose utter self-confidence make them insufferable, but they’re also pretty sincere about going about it a way that isn’t a brutal occupation. These are smart folks who have studied history and know that the best way to stop an insurgency is to keep it from starting by keeping people from being disgruntled in the first place. Plus, their stated goal is to unite the squabbling factions of humanity into a single force so they hope to get everyone on their side through the politics of persuasion.

That’s the really insidious thing about this one. A big theme in The Expanse as stated by one character in an earlier book is that a fair percentage of humans are always going to be assholes. What’s been shown over and over again is that people are always willing to fight among themselves about the old grudges rather than put them aside to band together even when it would be in their own best long-term interest. It’s been the biggest stumbling block that the heroes have struggled against over the course of the series. And here’s finally someone who has the power to actually make that happen, and he isn’t acting like an insane dictator. Hmmmm…maybe he isn’t that bad....

Another new aspect in this is that since we know the end is coming that no one is safe. It adds some tension and drama to the action because it really does seem like all our favorites aren't going to make it this time.

It’s another great entry in the series, and my only real complaint is that I kind of got bummed while reading because I know how few there are left. I’ll also plug the excellent TV series based on the books that the SyFy Channel airs and is getting ready to start its third season which is well worth checking out.
Profile Image for Jack.
Author 4 books126 followers
January 10, 2018
I admit that I went into Persepolis Rising thinking that this was the last book in The Expanse series. I continued to think that way until about 2/3’s of the way through, when I realized that there was still too much plot to effectively be resolved in the remaining pages. Ultimately it made the majority of the book bittersweet for me, as I truly thought this was the last adventure I’d have with the Rocinante and her crew. Thankfully we have two more books to go…though that just means I have more bittersweet moments to look forward to. Alas.

But though this is by far my favorite space opera series that I’ve yet read, I do feel that the right thing to do would be to end it sooner rather than later. Too many authors have a tendency of dragging out their tales, to the point where there’s just too many contrivances to keep the plot going. Take the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. I really really loved those books, and the first 8 or 9 or so were fantastic. But then it sort of wore out its welcome, and it was harder and harder to stay invested. I really don’t think that Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck will let that be a problem, as it seems very clear that there’s a definite end game in mind with The Expanse. I’d much rather see this series end strongly than peter out over more novels than would make sense to work through.

So I always do my best to keep my reviews spoiler free, but I admit that this one will be especially difficult without divulging at least a couple of minor plot points. There may be other reviews on Goodreads that have already spilled the beans on major happenings, but I’ll just assume that there aren’t.

So the first thing to understand is that Persepolis Rising has a bit of a time-jump to it. The book never really specifies how much, and the synopsis doesn’t make mention of it. But it’s a bit of a time gap between the last book, Babylon’s Ashes, which is new to the series. The other books followed one after the other pretty closely. So with that time jump, we are facing the crew of the Rocinante as they are older, wiser, and more than a little tired of the interstellar hijinks that have basically defined their time together. But I think that the time jump works in this novel's favor. It would be easy for these guys to keep pumping out "danger of the year" books, slightly procedural in execution, though keeping with an overarching plot. But here, they take away the familiarity and give us something completely new; new ways to look at our heroes, new ways in which the dynamics of the various superpowers are handled, and new dangers to threaten the things our characters have been fighting for.

So, much has changed, yes? Yes indeed. But do you want to know the good news? These are still the same deep and multifaceted characters that we’ve grown attached to over the years. Yes, they are older, and the book does well in showing the different ways that age is catching up with our intrepid heroes. But regardless of being older, they are still comfortable to return to as only old friends can be. The gang is all here from Babylon's Ashes, and I'm so glad that our initial crew of 4 on the Roci has grown to include Bobbie and Clarissa.

As always with The Expanse, Persepolis Rising is a multi-character affair. Yes, Holden still has a lot of chapters, but not the most. Instead, my favorite Expanse character Bobbie Draper has the majority of the chapters in Persepolis Rising, followed closely by antagonist Santiago Singh and President of the Transport Union Drummer. We do get a few chapters from the rest of the Rocinante’s crew, but they are few and far between. And that’s really ok.

As a main character, Holden has always been a good one to follow. Loyal, dedicated, and with a strong moral compass, Holden is always in the right place at the right time. And that luck has translated into a strange superstardom for him that he is only peripherally aware of. It makes for an interesting dynamic, since we as readers know all the things that he has done, and all the things he’s survived, so to us he is a hero. But he just isn’t aware of that side of himself. And I like what the years have done to Holden. He’s still a strong character with strong convictions, but he definitely has that “world weary” feel to him, much like Miller did in the early days. It’s interesting to see how Holden has started to become a little like Miller, though they were polar opposites all those years ago.

Drummer is a good choice as a protagonist with a large number of chapters, as she has a very personal investment in the events that take place in this book, and is in a position where we get to see a lot of decisions being made, and the far-reaching impact of those decisions. She starts out somewhat cold, but the layers get peeled back the further into the story we get.

Singh is the perfect choice for an antagonist. A die-hard believer in the system he supports, he is two men at once. On one side of the coin, he is a man of great feeling and passion, who believes very strongly in the things he is trying to accomplish. On the other, he is a dangerous and callous man who isn’t afraid of making the tough decisions that end lives. I truly despised him, even as I could understand some of the motivations for what he was doing.

And Bobbie…oh how she finally gets to be the character I’ve wanted her to be. I really really really want to talk about the reasons she gets to grow and broaden as a character, but that’s a surprise best left to the reader. Needless to say she may be older, but she’s still badass former Marine with a surprising amount of insight and natural resourcefulness. She takes no shit, and it’s always fun to read her chapters as you never know which way she’s going to go.

As for the remaining characters, we only get a few chapters from them. They all behave like they should; Naomi is still the smartest person in the group, and loves Holden fiercely, even while being exasperated with him; Alex is still the mediator of the group, taking care of the crew and the Roci; Amos is still the dangerous but loveable sociopath that we know so well, but he is allowed a bit more depth this time around; Clarissa is still the damaged and quiet cypher, shadowing Amos and dropping hints of wisdom and insight from time to time. If you loved these characters before, you’ll love them here. If not…nothing is going to change your mind at this point.

So enough about the characters…what about the story? Well, again, I have to be careful of spoilers. Let’s just say that the events with the Free Navy and the drama with Earth has allowed some folks to slip out of the limelight, where they have been plotting some major changes for Mars, Earth, and the Belt. It’s bold, it’s big, and it’s definitely not what anyone is expecting. The good news is that our heroes are back together again, so we don’t have to experience the story separately. While that approach worked well enough in Nemesis Games, the story of The Expanse works best when our heroes are in the mix together, working through problems as a team. Sadly, very little time is spent on the Rocinante, which always makes me a little sad (that ship is almost a character in her own right).

Without talking about plot points, what else is there to mention? Well, the writing and editing is top-notch, as usual. These guys know how to construct a story, and they know where they are taking this tale. As a result, the plot is tight and perfectly paced. The action is superb as always, and the ideas are grand yet grounded, but no matter how big in scope the story may become, there’s still such a huge focus on heart and humanity. Each character feels unique and distinct, and when they feel, we feel with them. These have been, and still are, some of the most realistic characters I’ve ever read in a science-fiction setting. Deep thoughts, character growth, and lessons learned are expertly handled. But it’s not all deep and heavy...the humor is also on point, as always. Sarcasm, one-liners, and funny personal observations pop up off and on, always right where they are needed. I’ve said it before that I don’t always get hit with the feels when reading books, but for some reason The Expanse novels always manage to get through my armor and profoundly affect me. That, more than anything else, explains why I love this series as much as I do.

Honestly, I think the only people reading this review are fans of The Expanse who are in it for the long haul. If that’s the case, then I’m glad to be on this journey with you! Two more books to go, and I’m already anxiously awaiting the next one!
Profile Image for prcardi.
538 reviews73 followers
December 5, 2017
Storyline: 3/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 1/5

Corey gambled. Given the popularity of the series and the television adaptation, I hadn't expected them to take any risks. Granted, it was nothing radical, but starting with the whole "x years later" segue has tradeoffs. The obvious danger is that you skip over intervening years and developments fans have anticipated. The upside is that you can do some pretty neat tricks with character development and reveals. There are some dazzling options available when you're moving forward with the now present timeline while simultaneously dropping revealing clues about the skipped intervening years. Unfortunately, Corey didn't take advantage of those options. We meet up with our aged favorites, and time doesn't seem to have affected them (achy joints aside). They have the same debates, misgivings, and life dramas they battled the last time we saw them all. They have the same strengths and flaws. They're the same people, and their lives in the intervening period just doesn't matter for the story. The technological advances of the colonies, post-Babylon's Ashes, would itself have been worth writing a book about. Here the authors settle for sparsely-described advances that could have been explained away in far simpler (and more plausible) terms. Here, too, it was if so little had changed. The solar system changes on this side of the gates were different, if awkward. Little of it seeming to follow from the corporate schemes, Earth cataclysm, or massive depletion of space craft and resources that were so significant in the previous volumes. It seemed like there must have been another book between Babylon's Ashes and Persepolis Rising (in fairness, I have not read the short stories or novellas, thus perhaps it was explained there). Corey's gamble on the chronology just does not appear to have paid off. Readers suffer all the penalties of the choice without getting any of the benefits.

The book's worst impressions come when considering what might have been. For those thinking that this final trio of books was going to be something new, for those that thought the middle three titles were delaying efforts, you'll find this volume surprisingly familiar. It seems like we've done all this before. There was a time when the new releases in this series were more than military space operas. Vomit zombies, transforming planets, and portals - these were the kind of features that make science fiction so wondrous. Those that thought Corey had planned to return to that kind of science fiction are bound to be disappointed. Similarly, the authors have toyed with some quasi-philosophical ideas about the nature of legitimate force and freedom of information. Readers hoping that our authors were slowly working toward something profound will also suffer disappointment. There was even a time when each new book mixed in a new genre or theme: detective noir, personal vendetta, squatter's rights, etc.. What we get here is something we've gotten before.

The readers who will enjoy this the most are the ones that enjoy a straight-forward action-adventure. Those who cling to and look forward to all the banter of the Rocinante family will find delights herein. There's even some pretty good moments exploring new characters and the role of ideology. I especially liked the contrasts between perspectives in a fog of war situation. It was all minor embellishment, however, for more of the same - more of the same of the last two books. I obviously had misread the direction of the series and thought Corey had bigger aims. On the positive side, nothing and no one gets ruined here. The series is safe. I'll read on when the next two books come out, but I'm all out of optimism.
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
720 reviews1,173 followers
January 26, 2018
The only thing I hated about Persepolis Rising is how long it’s going to make me wait for the next book.

I always come away from an Expanse novel reeling. Sometimes from massive events, but often just from the profound depth of character. This series continues to illustrate what it is to be human and I can’t help feeling deeply affected by the sentiment within each novel. A short interaction between two characters in this book (maybe 3 pages worth?) had the power to become one of the most memorable moments of the series for me. It’s those little moments made bigger by the depth of their history and meaningfulness of the nuances that makes this series so stellar. Needless to say, I’m a fan.

As far as “stuff happening,” the lack of which was my only issue with Babylon’s Ashes, Persepolis Rising delivered on plot advancement and regained much-needed momentum for the series. I’ve been trusting the authors to evolve it into something, well, expansive at some point, and they’re delivering with flair. Other than a segment in the middle (where I had an oddly difficult time concentrating), Persepolis Rising offered a snowball ride to a great story climax that has me almost angry that I can’t pick up the next book immediately.

Recommendations: The Expanse is easily my favorite space opera/science fiction series on the market. The series has a lot of action, great characters (like, really great), and tons of memorable moments. I’d hand it to people looking to get into the genre. But at this point I would beat longtime scifi fans over the head with the first tome if they haven’t given it a try yet.

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com

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Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,008 reviews2,597 followers
December 19, 2017
5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/12/19/...

What do you do when your epic space opera series is seven books in, you’ve already put your readers through some of the most intense storylines they can imagine, and now you need to do something even bigger and better to usher it into the next phase with style? Well, you hit the “soft reset” button, so to speak. Not exactly starting things over, but there is certainly a sense we’re getting a new beginning of sorts in Persepolis Rising. That’s the impression I got anyway, when I opened the book, and the first line literally started with “Almost three decades had passed…”

I confess, at first there was a momentary feeling of panic. Were we really skipping ahead thirty years? That’s one heck of a time gap between this book and the last, and never has this series seen such a huge jump forward. But it’s true; Persepolis Rising returns to our heroes who are now quite a bit older, maybe a little wiser, and the solar system and the new colony planets beyond the ring gates are enjoying a protracted period of peace not seen since before the arrival of the protomolecule. That being said, life has not been easy for the fledgling colonies. Survival depends on the flow of supplies through the gates, and some planets have attempted to gain an advantage by cheating the Transport Union systems. Minor as they are, these transgressions cannot be tolerated, lest things descend into chaos, so Transport Union President Drummer hires teams like Holden and the crew of the Rocinante to lay down the law.

Decades of doing such odd jobs can take their toll though, and now that Holden and Naomi are getting on in years, they’re thinking it’s time to call it quits. But of course, it’s inevitable that a momentous decision like that will precipitate something big, and indeed, Holden’s retirement has barely begun when an old foe makes his return. For close to thirty years, this enemy has been hidden away on the lost colony world of Laconia, developing new technologies and amassing the strength required to invade the solar system and make all of its Union worlds a part of their new empire.

The Expanse series definitely has a special place in my heart. For years I have followed these characters, come to know them and love them. It would be impossible overstate my relief at finding them all here in Persepolis Rising, even after the passage of almost three decades in the timeline. We’re talking the entire crew of the Roxi—Holden, Naomi, Alex, Amos, Bobbie, Clarissa—and even my favorite foul-mouthed UN politician Chrisjen Avasarala. Older they may be, but in all the ways that matter, they are still the same. It felt very much like returning home to good friends.

It was while reading this book, however, that it really hit me just how far we’ve come since Leviathan Wakes. As much as I’ve enjoyed the earlier installments, they feel almost simplistic and jejune now compared to some of the more intricate plot lines since Cibola Burn. Clearly, we’re well beyond the days of vomit zombies, though I was also happy to see that the protomolecule still had a role to play in Persepolis Rising. The difference is, the concept has now been adapted and expanded on a scale that affects thousands of worlds and a countless number of people, and if you thought things couldn’t get any bigger and badder than what we’d already seen in the last couple books, think again.

But as I’ve stated before in my reviews of the previous novels, the reason why I keep coming back to this series is because of the characters and their relationships. If the crew of the Rocinante felt like they were a family before, they’ve only gotten even closer since the last time we saw them together, and if I have one regret about the thirty-year time skip, it’s that we’ve missed all those interactions between them in the intervening period. Still, some things haven’t changed, thankfully. Holden is still a hopeless do-gooder. Bobbie is still a total badass. Avasarala is still a master maneuverer. I loved how we got to fall back into the old conversations and routines like no time has passed at all.

Plus, let’s not forget the other side of the story. To me, the fact that the focus is not solely limited to the “good guys” is what makes The Expanse a special series. This time, Persepolis Rising includes the perspective of Governor Singh, a young and inexperienced officer tasked to bring the rebellious inhabitants of Medina Station into the fold of the Laconian Empire. Grossly underqualified for the job he must do, Singh is a tragic figure who engenders feelings of both dislike and sympathy due to his duo roles as severe authoritarian in public versus the loving family man he is in private. Believing wholeheartedly in the Laconian cause, he will become the ruthless soldier he needs to be if it means securing a better future for his young daughter.

Before this, I wouldn’t have thought it possible to be more excited about The Expanse, but authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck AKA James S.A. Corey have managed to fire me up once again. Their decision to jump ahead so many years after the previous novel may have been a bold move, but it’s one that ended up paying off, giving the series the shakeup it required. More than just a brilliant sequel, Persepolis Rising is also a beginning, and indeed, in a series that is supposed to include nine novels, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume this is the first book of a concluding arc. Regardless, whatever happens next is bound to be exciting, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews186 followers
February 28, 2018
Thirty years after defeating the Free Navy and negotiating and end to the various conflicts between the belters and the inner planets, the crew of the Roci is still doing work for hire for the organization that spawned from the ashes of the OPA. Hovering at retirement age, Jim and Naomi agree to sell the ship to Bobby so they can enjoy their golden years together, just in time for the known universe to go sideways and shit all over their plans. Yes, the one loose end from Babylon’s Ashes comes back through the gate, with thirty years of weaponized protomolecule technology in tow. This is the lead-in novel to what purports to be the final act of the series, which is set to conclude at nine books. If we think of The Expanse as a “trilogy of trilogies”, then Persepolis Rising may be the most finely tuned “first book” in the series, with its balance of tight, focused plotting and illuminating character detail as sharp as the authors Corey have yet mustered. Its depiction of the psychology of fascism stands in interesting correlation to Yoon Ha Lee’s Machineries of Empire series, covering similar ground but with a more traditional literary realist approach.
Profile Image for Raquel Estebaran.
283 reviews161 followers
April 6, 2022
Séptima novela de la saga y sensiblemente mejor que la anterior.

Se sitúa décadas en el futuro y resulta en cierta manera refrescante, con una trama política muy interesante y donde la acción en principio un poco lenta se intensifica a lo largo de la novela.

Hay nuevos personajes que dan mucho juego. Los personajes principales siguen ahí, enfrentados a nuevas situaciones pero siendo en esencia ellos mismos. Incluida la para mí magnífica Avasarala.

Un final excitante, pero no hay derecho a que te dejen con ese nivel de intriga. Un punto menos, por puñeteros. He dicho.
Profile Image for William.
675 reviews316 followers
June 4, 2019
Wow. (expletive)! Ten-stars! The best of the superb series.

What a fabulous book. Powerful, spare, poignant, full of hard sci-fi at a blistering pace. More than any other Expanse book, the authors here investigate deep and dangerous human motivations, and the nature of the Roci as a family after almost 40 years together (first book occurs 2350 AD, this book about 2388 AD). The book also delves deeper than any previous book into the human attraction to demagogues.

As usual with my reviews, please first read the publisher’s blurb/summary of the book. Thank you.

The main characters, thirty years on in life from the horrors and destruction of the previous book, Babylon's Ashes ...
Note: You must read the books in order ... in my rarely humble opinion ...

The family has bonded completely now, and aged and mellowed in so many good ways. Bobbie and Amos show amazing expressions of growth and power as they have aged. I would say that this is their book, more than any others.

• Bobbie
In many ways, this is the book in which Bobbie fulfils her deeper power as a Captain. We see her challenges gaining and losing and regaining this. We see her bonds and competition with Amos even more clearly than before. We see her surprising deeper bonding with Alex. The authors subtle touch make this truly wonderful.

• Amos
The monster that Amos mostly keeps at bay inside himself is tested in this book, more thoroughly than perhaps in any other of the series. Naomi is still his touchstone, his guiding star, but his bond to Clarissa has only deepened over the years, and now he must prepare and accept things he cannot control. Amos is, in this book, the Amos we hoped he would become, even though we knew there would still be ragged edges and conflicts inside him.

• Alex
We all knew that Alex is a gnurd, bonded deeply to the Rocinante in the ways that gnurds do. But we also find his inner purpose, his view of himself in balancing the family, his admiration and awe for the others' strengths. Poignant and wonderful.

• Clarissa
She is struggling still with the monster she was, more and more in awe of her redemption by the Roci family, and very ill now as her enhancements turn on her. She shows us this most powerfully in just two sentences:

It was always strange to remember that she knew things that other people didn’t... What it was like to murder someone who’d only ever been kind to you. How it felt when the people you’d dedicated your life to killing took you in as family.

• Naomi
As always, strong and mostly silent, forever in Holden's shadow, but always guiding, gently shifting him along the path of who he is, regardless of the personal pain that results to her. A true heroine, and Holden knows it and respects her completely. She remains beautiful and brilliant and full of heart, and shines in many places in the book.

• Holden
James is the bedrock of the family, especially in crisis. His flaws of "Truth, Justice and Humanity without compromise" are understood by Naomi most clearly, but also by the others. Even as these flaws drag the family into pain and struggle, they know he is their guiding light. Their love for each other, and Holden's certainties are the glue that has captured them and bound them all these years in spite of their own flaws. They understand this.

Only Holden sees clearly how the ego-driven plans of Duarte (as good as some parts of his philosophy are) combined with the power of the proto-molecule will end in apocalypse. The adventure on Ilus in Cibola Burn has left Holden with a clear vision of the apocalyptic power of the technologies man has only found, not earned.

• Duarte
A genius and an egomaniac. He's had 30 years to grow his philosophy of government, humanity, power and coercion. In many ways, the authors have created a power-mad Hitler, but with far more subtlety and magnetism, a far more seductive "enforcement of good social behaviour for the betterment of all mankind" megalomania. This is a fine balance, and Duarte's dialogues in the book often disarm you, and pull you into "the ends justify the means".

As I read, I wondered how so many Germans could get pulled into the Nazi message in the 1930s. How could a madman like Hitler be elected? The starvation and chaos of the Weimahr Republic and The Great Depression, the yearning for security and safety, the desire to be respected as a people are all well-understood... but how could they miss the insanity of the man they elected? (I'm thankful America's own elected madman is mostly an ineffectual dunce)

Some answers might be found here -
The Fuehrer Myth, How Hitler Won Over the German People

Duarte's failing, his "testosterone failing", is to imagine that his vision could be forced upon humanity under any circumstances and end in the result he desired.

One thing I wonder -

• Drummer, Singh, Saba and others
The supporting characters are all well-written, fully alive and real throughout. There was not a single time in the entire book where I felt I was being manipulated by a false-characterisation. Not bad!

The plot, action, science and politics -
The pace is extraordinary, the plot is incredibly well-conceived, the science reasonably hard and delicious, and the politics quite adequate.

So many plot elements arise from previous books, even all the way back to Leviathan Wakes. If the authors conceived way back then of the main plot of this seventh book, I must say I'm in awe. To place story elements envisaged in 2010 into the overall conception of the ten book series is truly extraordinary. Wow.

News: David Strathairn Cast In Key Role in series 3 of SyFy's "The Expanse"
Perhaps as Duarte?


Clarissa says:
“My father could be the kindest, most generous and loving man. Right up until he wanted something and you wouldn’t give it to him.
It was always strange to remember that she knew things that other people didn’t. Not just about power-and signal-routing protocols. What it was like to murder someone who’d only ever been kind to you. How it felt when the people you’d dedicated your life to killing took you in as family.


The deep human instinct to come together in crisis. To take care of each other. In its best light, it was what made humanity human. But he also had the dark suspicion that it was a kind of bargaining. Look, universe, see how kind and gentle and nice I am? Don’t let the hammer fall on me.

Alex said. “This is Medina Station under occupation by a bunch of splinter Martian military expats. It’s not Baltimore.”
Amos’ smile was as placid as always. “Everywhere’s Baltimore.”

Establishing the empire was an endless series of microscopic magnifications into greater and greater granularity, and every grain was a potential renegade. Medina was just a microcosm of the problem they’d be running into everywhere. Political opposition considered as fractal geometry.

2.0% ...
“If you want to create a lasting, stable social order,” Duarte said, “only one person can ever be immortal.”

7.0% ... I do love the clean, efficient prose here

13.0% ... Wow, it's sooooo good to be back in the Roci family again. I love this family. ❤️

20.0% ... The authors have done an exceptional job of imagining a man and a political structure that people would believe in, to the point of casually sacrificing millions of humans. It's hard to call it fascist, but it sure is scary.

28.0% ... truly fabulous plotting here, embedded in spare, powerful prose!

".... Why come kick the table over? Couldn’t he have just pulled up a chair with the rest of us?”
“Because some men need to own everything.”

So true. Testosterone, greed. The ruin of humanity, the death of our species."

36.0% ... the mix of personalities in the Roci crew is a masterpiece. I love them all.

37.0% .... it's amazing! As I read, I now see the young TV series actors' faces inside this book, replacing my originally imagined older faces from the previous books (Aged 30 years of course for this book)

65.0% ... now we see the true character of the monster testosterone:
That was what terrified him. Not that the job would force him to be both of those men but that he was capable of being both. That all it would take is a bit more pressure, and Santiago Singh would be a man who loved his daughter with all his heart and who also ordered genocides.

.... Normal, star-strewn space could feel like an infinite ocean, vast and glorious and uncaring. The slow zone felt like being in something’s mouth.

88.0% ... tears for me here 😥

Profile Image for Veronique.
1,219 reviews165 followers
March 10, 2019
“Because we’re human, and humans are mean, independent monkeys that reached their greatness by killing every other species of hominid that looked at us funny.”

It took me a while to get into this new instalment of the Expanse (mostly real life rearing its ugly head) but once the narrative got going, I was hooked! :O)

As we’ve grown accustomed to, the narration is divided between several narrators, each providing an important point of view, with the one constant being Holden. However, and this is big one, the authors have “turned the table on us”. Thirty odd years have gone since the events of book 6! That was quite a big shock, one that I nearly didn’t want to accept, that is until it all made sense. A new threat appears, one which needed the time to develop and flourish, and would you believe it - it is human! I’m always amazed how in a scifi story with alien tech and what not, it is ALWAYS us doing the bad! Will we ever learn? Probably not...
“I’m as surprised as you are,” Avasarala said. “Though I feel like I shouldn’t be. I actually read history. It’s like reading prophecy, you know.”
The age old story of one maniac with delusions of grandeur who wants to own it all. The Laconian society has some interesting and dare I say valid points, all that is until you disagree with the ‘rule’ and realise its despotism. Although our favourite crew is ‘older’, they are still in the middle of it, reacting to the situation, and of course Holden can’t resist doing his thing :O)

The way the novel is structured, the next book will have to be a straight continuation, and I can’t wait for it. I very much want to find out about the next step, but also about the two waring alien civilisations, what happened then - questions we’ve had since practically book 1 - and yes I can’t resist hoping to have a Miller appear saying “We need to talk”.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,029 reviews2,813 followers
June 6, 2021
4.0 Stars
Spoiler Free Video Review: https://youtu.be/KJ-tnoyG0sI
Discussion Video: https://youtu.be/QsQ-HxkH8Lc

The Expanse is space opera at it's best and Persepolis Rising is the latest installment in this fantastic science fiction series. This book contains all the aspects that fans have come to love. From the return of beloved characters to the ever-growing world-building, this sequel delivers it all.

After a year away from the series, it was so easy to fall back into this engrossing story. Returning to this universe felt incredibly nostalgic. The elements of diversity were seamlessly woven into narrative of this inclusive story. The world building continued to be easy to understand, yet epic in scope. As always, this space opera story was immersive and highly entertaining.

One of the biggest reasons I keep coming back to the series is to spend more time with these characters. All the characters in this book were well fleshed out, complex, and completely compelling. This book is told primarily from four distinct character viewpoints, which each providing a unique perspective into the larger story. Two of the viewpoints were familiar characters, while the other two were new perspectives. All the major beloved characters made appearances within the course of this novel. While I am always biased towards reading about established characters, I also enjoyed reading from both the new characters, which provided must needed viewpoints in the story.

This book is set a fair ways after the events in Babylon's Ashes and, therefore, plays heavily on the themes of change and aging. At this point in time, we see how not only the ship, but also the crew of the Rocinante, are growing older. They are no longer naive and impulsive. Instead, through the passage of time, we see how the characters have grown and matured

As the seventh book in a nine book series, Persepolis Rising faced the challenges of being a mid-series book. The authors needed to balance writing an exciting self-contained plot while continuing to build towards the final larger climax. This story had to bridge the gap between the previous book and also setup the sequence of events that will lead to the ending of the series. These factor made this book feel more like a transitional book in places. Compared to previous books, the plotting of this book felt a bit slower. The politics between the planets, and other organizations played a larger role in this novel. Toward the second half of the book, the narrative did pick up with more action. The ending of this book had some particularly exciting events that certainly pulled me into the story.

Persepolis Rising laid the groundwork for an incredible finale in the last two books.

I highly recommend that any fan of The Expanse book series (or TV show) hurry up and catch up on this series as soon as possible. I just know that James S.A. Corey will deliver an epic end to this grand space opera.

I requested this one from Orbit Books.
Profile Image for Mike.
478 reviews370 followers
April 28, 2018
It is tough enough to write a series to a seventh book let alone writing a good seventh book. And after the amazing climax of Babylon's Ashes I really had no idea where the duo of James S.A. Corey would take the story.

Turns out they decided to boldly go thirty years into the future, which is a pretty gutsy move in my book. On the one hand this choice allowed the colonization effort to be greatly advanced, the rogue Martian fleet to develop their own society, and for new institutions to grow in the Sol system.

On the other hand, though, that is a large chunk of time to get the reader up to date on. New characters, new alliances, new conspiracies. It helps that two of the POV chapters are from characters that are high up in their respective new organizations. I would say that Corey pulls the transition off very well.

The story itself is great, even if our beloved characters are thirty years older. They are still their same old selves:
Did you read my briefing on Freehold?”

“Skimmed it.”

“Three hundred people who hate centralized authority and love guns. Holden’s going to insist on meeting them on their turf, because that’s the kind of shit he does.”
Plus ça change...

Given that there was such a large time jump and so many new players it is not surprising that this book, as excellent as it is, serves mostly as a set up for the subsequent books. There are lots to recommend it (excitement, plot twists, revelations, terrifying proto-molecule developments) but it is very clear that this book set the table for a delicious feast in the next few books. If you've been with the series this long you will greatly enjoy this installment.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
July 29, 2021
4.5 stars

I completely loved this. All the various POVs were an excellent choice, and painted a full picture of the Laconian invasion/occupation from all sides.

And so many twists and turns! I was surprised as often as I wasn't, and the level of tension made it an exhilarating read.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,920 reviews156 followers
October 19, 2020
The events of this book take place roughly thirty years after the events of the Free Navy Conflict of the previous novel. While the trinity of stupidity that is the Mars-Belters-Earth troika manages to destroy itself and humanity along with it, a new power has been quietly rising.

Through the gates comes the Laconian Empire. Using advanced technology, fueled by the knowledge of the protomolecule, the Laconians bring a powerful warship into the system and begin the process of taking over the Sol system.

The Laconian Governer, Singh, is a good man but seems to be in over his head. As the terrorist forces of the former OPA, join forces with other renegades to try to strike back at the Laconians. Without spoilers, let us say that these events will have some huge ramifications for some of our intrepid heroes.

Personally, after the clusterfuck that has been the norm for the past few books, the Laconians seem to be a chance at a good future for humanity, but few seem to be on board, opting for conflict instead. Though the events are actually out of their control.

A truly exciting addition to this superb series. The big picture of the protomolecule and whatever killed it, is always in the background. A few hints about a potential threat to users of the protomolecule is also being investigated.

Huge events and quite an exciting novel. A great addition to this superb series and one I can not recoomend enough to any fan of grand sci-fi adventure.
Profile Image for Dean Ryan Martin.
200 reviews38 followers
May 15, 2022
"Don't make any enemies you can't unmake (page 214)."

Author's Writing Style: 4 stars!!!

Yay: The tone quality is consistent with the other sequels. The level of its entertainment-value has improved in a way that it balances the development of each character along with the plot or the plot sails smoothly with the development of the characters. Nay: It annoys to read side characters who do not speak English. I don't understand them, lol.

Characters' Development: 5 stars!!!

Yay: The Rocinante family returns. Holden, Naomi, Alex, Amos, Bobbie and Clarissa are getting closer with each other. Each is getting older too. Each is given a chance to express what they want to do next without leaving the team until one needs to sacrifice for their survival. Nay: There are many side-characters. Many are new but forgettable. Some are comebacks and they are necessary to set a different layer of political excitement to the story.

Plot: 5 Stars!!!

Nay: It is longer than I expected. The plot keeps on turning and twisting and turning again. Yay: It took me more than a month to finish the book but I never felt lost whenever I returned to reading three or more chapters every weekend. The flow of the events is more riveting and smooth-sailing than the other sequels. It is about an invading empire that wants to conquer other solar systems. This empire does whatever it takes to get what they want. Even if it means war.
Profile Image for Leona Lecturopata.
273 reviews63 followers
February 7, 2022
He escrito y borrado este comentario unas diez veces porque lo que realmente quiero decir es que estoy muy enfadada con este final. Voy a tener que esperar mínimo un año ¡¡¡un año!!! para saber qué ocurre a continuación. Porque confiaba en que, como en todas las novelas anteriores, la historia quedará cerrada y aquí han hecho trampas.

Ahora que ya me he desahogado, la novela me ha encantado. A pesar de repetir por séptima vez ambientación y personajes de nuevo los autores consiguen darle un toque diferente y engancharme tanto como con todas las anteriores. Y ahora, de nuevo, a esperar TToTT
Profile Image for Rob.
845 reviews532 followers
November 9, 2021
Executive Summary: After a slow start it finished really strong but wasn't quite as enjoyable as the last two were for me. 4.5 Stars.

Audiobook: Jefferson Mays once again does a good job. He does a few voices, but mostly he's just a solid narrator who is easy to understand and reads with good volume and inflection.

Full Review
Well I had no idea there was going to be a 30 year time jump. I was initially upset about it, but as the book went on I see why they did it. In order to tell the story they wanted to without dragging things out, it was necessary. I do hope they decide to do some extra books/novellas that covers some of that time.

Bobbie is one of my favorite characters, so I was really happy she was one of the main POVs in this book. I didn't think it was possible to lover her more, but she proved me wrong with this book. I thought Singh made for an interesting antagonist, but was my least favorite POV. Drummer was mostly fine. There is one particular detail that made me enjoy her chapters more than I might have otherwise. Holden is still Holden.

I thought the start of this book was a bit slow. It's possible a lot of it was my shock at the time jump and wondering what might have happened to characters I loved in that time. It might just be that the two new POV characters didn't really pull me into their stories as much. As the book went on however things really picked up.

This book does a lot to set up the final two books. I think that combined with the slower start made this book not quite as good as the last two for me. It was still a really enjoyable book though, and now I have to eagerly wait for the next book to see what happens next.
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,121 reviews1,111 followers
September 1, 2021
When I read the previous six novels in the series, it only took less than three days for each. They were, mostly, page-turning, full-action, high-emotion, roller coaster rides.

Persepolis Rising is different. It is more somber, thoughtful. The kickass actions, tight plotting and twist-and-turns are still there, don't you worry, but they are not what define the book, even the series anymore. The world (space, slow zone, what-have-you) has changed, the characters have changed, there is a distinct shift that you just feel. I can not articulate it right now but probably if I have to pick a word to describe the series now, it would be 'mature'. It made me want to savor each chapter, to lengthen each moment and let it sink.

The writing remains fantastic, that's no doubt. Even the annoying new POVs remain engaging. I also love the , something I applaud the authors for (I wish George R.R. Martin did it a few years back after A Storm of Swords) because it is not easy and downright risky. It enriches the new worlds of colonies, alliances, and intergalactic politics. Da kaka deya ere da medina da diye xiya ta pagal, sabe?

It even provides more depth to the already well-rounded characters that make up the Roci's crew. With the combined expertise in technical matters and character-building of Daniel and Ty, this series is (for me) unrivaled, and is spin-gravitating in its own league.

Also, how FREAKING COOL were those void cities and Laconian ships?! Expanse production team, in you we trust. I am dying to see them on screen.

Milowda gonya leva xox! We gonna rise up! Onward to Book 8 next year!
Profile Image for Efka.
446 reviews251 followers
January 22, 2018
There's not much to say about this book, really. It's number 7 in the series, and by this moment most (everyone, actually?) of the readers already know what to expect and who's who and all those twists and little secrets that makes the plot tick and so on and on and on.

So, yeah, Persepolis Rising kept the all the best traits of the series, with all the familiar faces and all the familiar surroundings... Just fast-forwarded some thirty years, added some silver on guys' temples - unless they're Amos and they're still bald, and you have the picture.

I have a feeling of a "new start" of some sorts, though. Once, before "Persepolis Rising" had been published, I talked to a friend about The Expanse - he was a rookie and had some questions regarding the future of the series as a whole. I told him, that I perceived The Expanse series as a sort of trilogy, only in more books than three. This book actually proves it - the first part, which spreaded through the first four books, had been Protomolecule and the creation of the Gates; second part - books five and six- told about the war with Inaros' forces, and the last part starts here - now I'm not going to spoil anything, but most guys foresaw return of the protomolecule, so I don't feel like I'm spoiling anything here.

A great book. Can't mark it as 5*, as the story lacked some freshness and pace, but if the ratings were x/10, I'd definitely rate it a strong 9.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews221 followers
May 26, 2018
Book 1: 5*
Book 2: 4.5*
Book 3: 4.25*
Book 4: 3.5*
Book 5: 4.5*
Book 6: 4*
Book 7: 4.5*

If not for a really slow start where I was wondering if this series had finally run its course this may have been the best in the series. Years in the future our protagonists have all aged and the Protomolecule is back and more dangerous than ever as humanity tries to tame the usual and potentially fatal.

I loved that there wasn't closure at the end of this one. The crew of the Roci not quite intact. Avasarala and the governments in flux.

Can't wait until December when the next one comes out.
Profile Image for Derkanus.
79 reviews78 followers
February 25, 2019
Summary: It's been 30 years since the breakaway fleet went through the Laconian gate. Paolo Cortazar is the president of Laconia University and the head of its exobiological studies. He has devoted his life to studying the protomolecule, and keeps people who have been deliberately infected with it in a high-security building called "the Pen." He uses the subjects to create protomolecule-modified human stem cells that he's been injecting into the High Consul, Winston Duarte, in an effort to make him immortal.

Drummer is the Transport Union President, currently on the transfer station at Lagrange-5. After 3 decades, Earth is finally beyond its environmental crisis and is ready to trade with the colonies. She attends a press conference with the Earth-Mars Coalition (EMC). Afterwards, she gets a report from Medina Station of an unauthorized transit out of Freehold to Auberon, which pushes the gates past their ship-swallowing safety curve, causing all sorts of delays. She commands Holden to go to Freehold and tell them that their repeated violations have resulted in a ban on all traffic in and out of their gate for 3 years.

Alex remarried to a woman named Giselle, with whom he had a son named Kit; he also got divorced again. Clarissa has to undergo constant treatments because her aftermarket glands are killing her; Amos always takes care of her. Bobbie is worried that their visit to the colony will be fatal; the colonists are well-armed, and the 3-year blockade will most probably kill everyone, since the soil isn't suitable for growing food yet.

Santiago Jilie Singh is a captain in the Laconian navy. He is summoned by High Consul Duarte for reporting the insubordination of his commanding officer. Duarte puts him in charge of The Gathering Storm and says it's time to show the rest of humanity what they've been working on.

Holden tells Payne Houston, the governor of Freehold, that he either comes with them to face trial, or the whole planet is cut off for 3 years. The Interim Governor Semple Marks brings Payne to the Rocinante, hog-tied.

Drummer is on People's Home, 1 of the 3 void cities. She intends to use Freehold's punishment as a warning to Auberon, who has a working polypeptide cross-generator that can modify any soil grow Earth crops--which would greatly shift the balance of power. She tells Holden his solution won't work, as the TU doesn't take prisoners. She sends him a statement to read.

Holden won't stand for Drummer's orders, as they amount to the mass murder of people who never voted for her. Naomi suggests maybe they should just retire to Titan instead of trying to save the universe again, and he is quick to agree. Suddenly, the ship changes course; Payne broke out of the brig and took over their systems.

Payne has locked himself in engineering, so Bobbie takes a space walk and comes in from the outside. Though Payne dents a fire extinguisher over her helmet, Bobbie makes quick work of him. Later, Holden offers to sell her the ship so he and Naomi can retire. She gets choked up and says she'll uphold the Roci's reputation.

Captain Singh of the Gathering Storm meets Admiral Anton Trejo of the Heart of the Tempest, Laconia's largest ship, with protomolecule-enhanced hull plating that regenerates. Trejo is a former Martian, and a military genius. They discuss their upcoming assault on Medina Station.

Holden and Naomi tell the crew they're retiring; everyone seemed to know it was coming (except Bobbie). Bobbie asks the crew if they'll stay aboard with her as the captain, and they all agree.

Drummer gets an alert from the Laconian navy saying they're opening their gate and heading to Medina station to address Laconia's role going forward. Everyone assumes the Laconia colony is failing and making a last ditch attempt to strong-arm their way back with a deprecated fleet. Drummer seems to recall that they had a protomolecule sample, but doesn't give it much thought.

At Medina, the Roci crew celebrates 1 last time. Afterwards, Bobbie returns to the captains quarters on the Roci, and finds a (mandatory) security meeting request about Laconia. The Tori Byron and Medina's railguns are to take the lead, with the Roci falling back to stop any boarding parties. When the massive sea-creature-esque Laconian ship comes through the gate, it disinegrates the Tori Byron with 1 shot of a strange, magnetic weapon.

The railguns on Medina rip holes into the Laconia ship, but the hull heals itself almost immediately. The Gathering Storm fires its magnetic weapon again, destroying all the railguns on the station and half the electronics in the nearby ships. Colonel Tanaka boards Medina with teams of marines in protomolecule-enhanced power armor, and they quickly take over the station. Admiral Trejo tells everyone that that things will continue just as they have, but expedited by the Laconian fleet, who now control all 1300 planets. The only price is cooperation with the new order and a small tax that will be invested into infrastructure and planetary economies. Opposition will result in immediate death.

Drummer meets with Chrisjen Avasarala. She has studied Duarte's thesis and knows that if he's attacking, he's sure he can win. Drummer will have to give up everything beyond that gate for now (including her husband Saba on Medina station) and focus on securing the Sol system with the help of Earth and Mars. Avasarala says she has some back channels into Medina.

Singh is the new governor of Medina. When he calls in the station's security officer to relieve him of duty, the officer says that when Singh fired the magnetic weapon, it built up a ton of energy and all the gates simultaneously discharged massive amounts of gamma radiation. Singh thinks this may help them gain control of all the systems without even firing a shot.

The Roci crew pieces together that Duarte gave the Free Navy Martian tech in exchange for early access to the probes sent through the gates, which is how he knew Laconia had something that could be used to make their new tech. Some Belters launch an attack with a few weapons that haven't been confiscated.

The Laconian marines easily dispatch the attackers, but Singh's assistant is killed. He orders security chief Tanaka to tighten the screws, and when she expresses resistance, fearing that it will cause the Belters rebel more, he relieves her of duty. He sends Trejo a briefing about the gamma burst from the rings caused by their USM field projector, suggesting that they move their invasion timetable up significantly.

After the crackdown imposes curfews and checkpoints and outlaws large group assembly, Holden and Naomi decide to get the Roci crew back together. They find that everyone's been turned off the docks and have no idea how to find the Roci crew with the messaging system locked down.

Amos sets up a meeting with the underground, where they meet the resistance head, Saba. He's not sure he can trust them until Holden strolls in like a celebrity. Bobbie silently resents being relegated to second in command again.

While Drummer reviews strategies, Carrie Fisk from the Association of Worlds puts out a statement saying they will cooperate with Laconia. Cameron Tur, a scientist, tells Drummer that after the Laconian ship/fired its weapon, there was an uptick in the activity of the nearby space: it was boiling.

The Eye of the Typhoon is dispatched from Laconia early to act as gate security, using the gamma ray burst discovery. Trejo will be taking his destroyer into the Sol system to fight the fleet on their own turf. He tells Singh that he fucked up firing Tanaka, and says he should talk to her; Singh tells her he knows he acted brashly, but her transfer still needs to go through or he'll look weak.

Bobbie tells Holden her plan of attack and insists that he pass it off as his own so Saba will accept it. The first step is to try and intercept the encrypted data the Laconians are transmitting; they can decrypt it later. Bobbie and Clarissa hijack some panels outside that station with relative ease and start collecting data.

The Heart of the Tempest comes through the Sol gate and politely demands cooperation. Drummer's void city, People's Home, is being outfitted into a war ship. She has the satellite used to communicate with Medina shut down so the Tempest doesn't notice the transmissions, and she immediately misses Saba. She puts out a statement saying the incursion will be repelled. Duarte only sent 1 ship and it will take weeks to reach them, but Avasarala says it's only hubris if he loses.

Tanaka's replacement, Lt. Overstreet, informs Singh that another Laconian life was lost in a terrorist bombing. Singh tells the 7 suspects that only the first to say who made the bomb lives. Then he meets with Carrie Fisk of the Association of Worlds and tells her that it's now the Laconian Congress of Worlds. He tells her to issue a statement to the dissenting worlds that if they don't get on board, their planets will be sterilized.

Saba intercepts a transmission saying a second ship just as large as the Tempest will be coming through the gate in 42 days, so they don't have much time left to act.

Saba sends Bobbie and Amos to meet with Katria of the Voltaire Collective, who keep setting off bombs that are not helping their cause. Amos starts a fight during negotiations, but he and Bobbie take down 5 of Katria's goons. They agree to join the collective, but Bobbie fears retribution.

The attack on the Tempest does not go well. It immediately repairs any damage, and has so many rail guns that it takes out most of the attackers easily, including the void city Independence (population 100,000). The Tempest does not fire on any fleeing ships. Avasarala comforts Drummer afterwards, explaining that now they know where the railgun and PDC embankments are so the next attack will fare better.

After Singh publicly plays a video of the battle, Holden realizes that they need to make a run for it, not try to join up with the others for an unwinnable fight.

They propose a plan to get the decryption keys to Katria: Naomi will copy the files, then they need to bomb some nearby oxygen tanks to cover up their operation, then they'll sneak out in vac suits. Katria agrees.

Singh tells Fisk to let the planets know that limited trade will be allowed again soon. Afterwards, Katria's bodyguard Jordao asks to meet Singh. He tells Singh he'll spill the beans about an upcoming attack if they let his sister out of prison.

Trejo sends Drummer a message saying she has 18 hours to submit, or he'll destroy Pallas-Tycho station. She orders the people on Pallas-Tycho to evacuate.

Just as everyone is in position for the operation, Alex sees on his drone feed that there are 2 guards in the decryption room, and 1 is near a dead man's switch that will trigger an alarm. Holden starts setting off all the alarms he can so that alarm will just be more noise amidst chaos. He gets caught by Martians in power armor.

Alex takes out the guards with his drones, then blows the door. Naomi copies the files from the server and they all retreat so Katria can set off her bomb. Amos wants to save Holden, but Bobbie says they can't jeopardize the mission. The explosion is huge, enough to damage The Gathering Storm, which is docked just a few meters away.

The Tempest shatters Pallas into dust with their magnetic weapon, but it also causes every person in the Sol system to hallucinate and lose a few minutes-worth of time. Scientists assume that this non-propagating event probably happened to the crew of the Tempest as well. Drummer wants to intercept their report that will be routed through Medina, so she wants to open connections back up to Saba.

The bombing on Medina killed more Laconians, so Singh orders marines to be stationed nearly everywhere, with all nonessential areas shut down. Singh tells Jordao that he wants a list of names of possible insurgents or his sister will be re-arrested and hung publicly. Afterwards, Singh gets a report from Trejo that a sphere of black light appeared on their ship when they used their magnetic attack, and he thinks it may be an inner weapon. Singh does a quick search and finds that Holden reported seeing the same ball of light on Ilus/New Terra--the same Holden they have in lockup.

Saba's techs decrypt the data and find the security documentation for the entire station--they're so detailed that they're worried they're fake. They show where prisoners are kept---so they hope to break out Holden--as well as the Laconian's entire plan of attack, and all their protocols, which closely match those of the MCRN and MMC. They also find a backdoor into the marine armor suits that can shut them down remotely.

Singh shows Holden a picture of the bright-black nothingness that appeared on the Tempest; Holden immediately recognizes it as the "bullet" that appeared on Ilus, the thing the "other" aliens used to turn off any protomolecule technology. Holden tells him to contact Elvi Okoye, the scientist from Ilus who spent years researching the artifacts there.

When Laconia was founded, Duarte recognized that the slow zone was a choke point that would cause endless wars and environmental collapses made worse by the lack of a central response. He chose Laconia because of the orbital construction platforms with which he could create his fleet. His ultimate goal is to bring a peace that will end all wars.

Bobbie finally tries to talk to Amos, but he immediately incites a fight. He lands a few decent blows, but mostly Bobbie beats him to a bloody pulp. Afterwards, he tells her that all he wants in life is for Peaches to be able to die peacefully back on the Roci. All he can think about in the meantime is hurting people, but he knows Babs is the only one that can actually beat him; no hard feelings.

Naomi comes up with a plan: they need 2 bombs, so Katria will make 1 and she says Jordao will make the second.

Holden is transported by the Lightbreaker to Laconia for interrogation. Jordao warns Singh that something big is going down, and it will involve the sensor arrays.

The Sol defense force engages the Tempest at Leuctra Point, successfully targeting its weak spots and doing definite damage to the ship--enough so that they manage to get a nuke through that detonates. They're quick to celebrate their victory, but when the fireball clears, the Tempest is still on course and still wiping out their ships.

Saba tells Naomi that there are 21 ships ready to evacuate Medina. While she's coding optimal order through the gates, she realizes 1 of the ships, the Lightbreaker, is a high-priority prisoner transport ship en route to Laconia and realizes it must be transporting Holden. She decides that instead of helping with the prison break, she'll go with Clarissa to make sure the sensors stay down.

Bobbie and Katria set a bomb, then wait outside the ship for a Laconian in power armor to walk into their trap. As soon as one does, they blow the bomb, snatch the dead marine in a net, and stow the armor in some luggage.

The Tempest fires an impossible number of missiles back at the attacking fleet and slowly starts to whittle the Sol defense force down. Some ships make suicide runs but the Tempest keeps coming. Eventually some railgun rounds hit People's Home and they're forced to dump core. Drummer gets a tight beam from Trejo asking her how many more of her people need to die before she'll surrender. She replies "zero" and tells the remaining ships to stand down.

Overstreet recommends to Singh that Jordao be arrested and interrogated with the others, and later given leniency when his sentence is passed, so they don't know he's the rat. They get a warning that the Rocinante has left the dock, so Singh orders The Gathering Storm to intercept immediately, even though it's not fully crewed. A riot breaks out in the prison area and marines arrive to take Singh to a secure location; however, their power armor shuts down and Singh runs and hides in a bathroom.

Bobbie, Amos, and an insertion team tether themselves to The Gathering Storm. Once it starts chasing the Roci, Amos tries to cut his way through the hull, but it keeps healing itself; he cuts larger and larger concentric circles as the crew dives in. Inside, Bobbie feints a attack on ops and tells Amos to take his team to engineering.

Naomi, Clarissa, and Jordao are intercepted by Laconian security when they try to sabotage the sensors; Jordao sold them out. All looks hopeless until Claire uses her implants to kill the guards and Jordao; however, she takes quite a bit of damage in the exchange, including a bullet, and in her weakened state, she can't survive her wounds.

Bobbie makes it to ops, and easily draws on the skeleton crew she finds there. She tells them they will all live if they surrender, so they do. They are given vac suits and enough air to survive a pickup, and Bobbie claims The Gathering Storm as her new ship.

The operation lasted 5 hours, and 20 ships got away. Singh decides the only way to stop this from happening again is to make a whitelist of citizens they know they can trust and cull the rest. Overstreet tells Singh that Trejo has given him orders to prevent anything that could further cause an insurgency, and tells Singh that he will be executed instead, to show that the people in power will be held responsible for their actions.

After Drummer surrendendered on behalf of the Transport Union, Earth and Mars quickly followed suit. Within months, other Laconian Protector-class destroyers moved into the Sol system to maintain order. Drummer is put under house arrest, almost like an enforced vacation. 3 months after the battle, the Heart of the Tempest arrives to take her away, and she's given a script to recite at the coming press conference. At the conference, Admiral Trejo tells her the plan is to shift the majority of Earth's population/culture to Laconia, so as to stop fetishising Earth. He invites her to join a permanent convocation of VIPs on Laconia. Avasarala suggests that Drummer play nice for the time being, though the shit's not over. She asks if Drummer knows why they're looking for Elvi Okoye, but Drummer is pulled away to give her presentation. After some deliberation, Drummer stays right on script.

The Roci crew sets down in Freehold, in a valley hidden by plants that release floating balloon-like bladders into the air. The colony is a 6-hour hike from their location. The locals were relatively welcoming, especially since the Roci brought Payne Houston back with them. Naomi gets data-dumps from Bobbie and they work to reverse-engineer how the Laconian technology works; it uses vacuum tubes instead of wiring, it has an excessive need for calcium, etc. Bobbie and her crew of Belters, with Amos as XO, are tucked away in an ancient lava tube on the moon of a gas giant in the system.

Duarte notices that as his child Teresa plays, he can see thought patterns around her head. He meets with Natalia Singh, who requests documentation on her husbands death, then goes to visit Holden in the brig. Holden is shocked to see that Duarte's been using the protomolecule on himself. Duarte tells Holden that he chose Laconia because the probes showed a ship that was already halfway-constructed in the orbiting structures. Holden says whatever killed the ring-makers took a shot at us on the Tempest, and that they need to stop using the technology; Duarte says the beings failed, because we're still here. He asks Holden to help him prepare to directly attack the beings that killed the protomolecule creators.

Review: 4 stars. I couldn't put the book down, but I'm still disappointed at how slowly we're being drip-fed new info about the protomolecule creators and the "others".
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,881 reviews3,383 followers
December 6, 2018
Everything changed, and it went right on changing. A terrible thought when things were good, a comforting one now.

In this 7th installment of the series, a lot changes. First off, we have a time jump of almost 30 years from the last book. This means that the Roci as well as her crew have aged. However, this also enables us not to get bogged down with details but to actually see some development in human society throughout Sol. Earth still exists but it's more like a farm, providing food for people after it recovered somewhat from Marko's attacks. The Belters are pretty much integrated and on a level with Earthers and Martians. It's not perfect but humanity is working on it.
Enter an almost entirely new viewpoint. Remember the ships that "went missing" two books ago? Yeah ... they left deliberately. Thanks to a guy called Duarte (Martian). Now THAT is a formidable monster. Not just one to shoot or eat you ... the subtlety of his monstrousness was delicious!
He has taken his followers to a world they named Laconia and he was also the one who had the stolen last sample of the Protomolecule (don't worry, that's not a spoiler). Oh, but what he's done with it ... *sighs reverently* Horrific and yet so utterly fascinating and beguiling at the same time.
Now that he and his forces are ready, he has one of his impressive ships moving back into Sol to take over first Medina station and then Sol. He styles himself Konsul, you see. And he wants to unite humanity under one rule with "independent" prefectures. Very Roman Empire-ish. And as with many men who have invaded other territories and occupied them, he knows how to weave his madness into compelling arguments and masks the true horror of his future reign quite well.
It was foreseeable how Sol would react, of course - but will the uprising / resistance be successful?

When you've been with more or less the same set of characters for 7 books and when those 7 books have created such a massive universe and spanned so many years and events, they become part of you and you feel like a part of them. I, personally, feel as at home on the Roci as Alex and it was therefore very hard for me when reading the chapters when they weren't on the ship. Or when some crew members made certain decisions or even fought amongst themselves or got sick.
No, I was still not a fan of Clarissa's but DAMN her character has grown in a very short time span (well, 30 years *lol* but they happened off page for us readers). And her interaction with the others really endeared her to me.
However, the hardest things were . Sure, I had foreseen it, but . Hope is a bastard.

This hit hard. Not just the things I've mentioned above. It was all so bittersweet. Seeing Avasarala again, too. Seeing what had become of Sol ... only for Duarte to come and ... well, I'm not even entirely sure he fucked it up. But I'm certainly not falling for his pitch like .

However, what the authors also introduced - or REintroduced I should say - was so interesting and puzzling that it almost makes the pain upon finishing this book and realizing I have to wait approximately 3 months before being able to read the next volume bearable.
Yep, Protomolecule, baby. As well as the Builders AND whoever/whatever killed them off! I can't wait for this great universe-spanning mystery to get explored more and for us to finally find stuff out!

Six books as a build-up for this and this seventh volume was still a steep curve up and beyond. The quality of writing, the attention to detail (), the intricacy of events from the first book right up to now that are coming together so perfectly ... this is setting the bar incredibly high and I expect to be disappointed by most other scifi now that I'm reading this. No, I'm neither kidding nor exaggerating. I loved all the books in this series so far but this, for now, is the best one.
Profile Image for Denise.
349 reviews32 followers
November 5, 2021
Maybe not quite perfect, but close enough! Asks some big questions about the nature of history, governance and permanency in human institutions. I think the authors are (at this point) arguing for constant change in those areas, but the reassuring importance of interpersonal relationships on a smaller scale.
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