Onward I press with book five in the Expanse series. I had my issues with the last book, but I am invested at this point and have gone too far to stop now.
Three years have passed since James Holden and crew embarked on their diplomatic mission beyond the Ring and the battered Rocinante has finally limped home to Tycho Station. While the ship undergoes major repairs the idle crew finds that their previous lives are beginning to catch up with them. One by one they split off to face their checkered pasts; Alex to Mars to apologize to his ex-wife, Amos to Earth to mourn (and possibly avenge) the death of his surrogate mother, and Naomi to Ceres after learning someone from her estranged family is in danger. Separated from his crew for the first time in many years, Holden busies himself overseeing repairs until he is approached by the reporter he transported during the events of Abaddon’s Gate. She presents him with evidence of Ring-bound ships disappearing under mysterious circumstances and asks for help gathering information, much the dismay of his OPA host. As the investigation suggests rogue elements within the now respectable OPA government, a series of major coordinated terrorist attacks cripple Earth, topple the Martian government, and jeopardize the future of settlements beyond the solar system. As the destruction unfolds through the eyes of the scattered Rocinante crew, a new power emerges to challenge the existing political order.
This series confuses me. After having mixed feelings about two or three of the previous books, I really liked this one. The story was fast paced, gripping, and brought on another intriguing shakeup to the existing order in this universe. That said, I am a bit worried that this book veered too far from the protomolecule story arc, but hopefully the next one can start tying some of these plot lines together. Character-wise this book was solid, perhaps for the first time in the series thus far. With each crew member getting their own POV chapters, it was nice to finally have a more personal view of them and learn about their lives before they ended up as a group. I even liked Holden this time around, though apart from his detective duties (a role the authors have written well in this series), he wasn’t a major focus. What excited me most about this book was the possibility of the Rocinante taking on two familiar faces as new crew members and one character’s realization that the fate of humanity now rests largely on Avarasala’s diplomatic skills. These two developments give me cautious optimism for the next installment, though I do hope more time is spent on bringing the story together than drastically changing it again.