26 November, 2022

LitStack Rec: Far from the Madding Crowd & Caliban’s War

Caliban’s War by James S. A. Coreyrec 26

Book Two of the initial Expanse trilogy (now up to three trilogies in the series, of which less than half the books – 4 out of 9 – have been published) – and I’m so vested in this series already that I’m totally stoked that there is so much more to come.

When I finished “Leviathan Wakes”, the book that started the whole series, I was a little worried that the second book, “Caliban’s War”, would be more of a filler or bridge than a self-contained, satisfying story on its own.  After all, one of the main characters – a really engaging main character – was by design not moving on with the rest of the crew of the purloined spaceship Rocinante, captained by James Holden (the man who has a reputation for being unflinching yet whose hotheaded idealism has started a war…).  But that fear was completely unfounded.  “Caliban’s War” not only satisfying, it completely exceeded my expectations.

It’s gratifying to see that author James S. A. Corey (actually dual collaborators Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) can continue to build on the larger threat established in “Leviathan Wakes” (partisan conflict along with a looming alien menace) while establishing new and immediate crises which propel the overall story arc as well as make the at-this-moment action urgent and personal – and suspenseful.  New characters, such as Gunnery Sergeant Roberta “Bobbie” Draper of the Martian Marine Corps, who gets caught between shifting loyalties; Praxidike Meng, a botanist working in the domes of Ganymede until conflict ends his work and shatters his family; and Chrisjen Avasarala, an aging United Nations career politician whose shrewdness cuts as sharply as her prickly personality, and who may be the only one standing between humankind and annihilation, are utterly scintillating in and of themselves, as well as through their interactions with Captain Holden and his crew:  Naomi, Amos, Alex.

I’m purposefully not giving away much of the plot of “Caliban’s War” for two reasons:  1) to do so would take too long because of all the wonderful ins and outs of the Expanse(should that be “expansive”?) universe, and 2) you really want to read it all for yourself.  I highly, highly, highly recommended this book and this burgeoning series to both science fiction fans and those who love well conceived and achingly well written characters and plotlines.

On to book three:  “Abaddon’s Gate”!

—Sharon Browning