Book Cover
Rate this book

Ratings & Reviews for

Caliban's War

5 stars
70,347 (48%)
4 stars
60,564 (41%)
3 stars
12,697 (8%)
2 stars
1,248 (<1%)
1 star
307 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,107 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,856 followers
December 11, 2022
Interconnection is everything

I´ve recently finished the ninth part and I must say that the immense coherency, precision in plotting, and meta context are so fine tuned that it is a joy to read. The effort to polish this until perfection without hardly any logic holes, lengths, and errors and to stay comprehensible must be immense and I must say that I´ve rarely ever seen something like that in Sci-Fi because it´s such a difficult task.

That´s how it often goes
Mostly, the novels of a series are closed in themselves and there are not so many retrospects and connections because it can get too complicated. Peter F Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, Banks, and some others come close, but Hamilton is the only one with similar interconnections and great character development.

It´s not just that the events, fractions, and happenings of the previous parts are used for reminiscences, the whole power balance, allies, and economic motivations change and keep both the honest, direct war and the hidden, political messes and backstabbings evolving. In such cases I like to imagine the storyboard with context and lines in different colors, metaplots, subplots,… and how complex and interwoven it must be for the creators standing in front and, while writing, in their work and expanding it, pun intended.

All that makes sci fi great in one package
And there is everything, the war, supersoldiers, rebel fractions, big questions about the alien technology, mixed quantum fantasy elements, the highly recommended function of putting the name of the character whose POV is described in front of each chapter to get quicker and directer suspense without the need of explaining where we are, extreme attention on the detailed and realistic description of ship design, physics, life in space,... perfect balance of technobabble, harmless infodumps, tons of tropes, credible characters who are great for constructing inner and outer conflicts, unbelievable worldbuilding, sense of wonder en masse, just everything is done completely right to write one of the greatest space operas ever.

One doesn´t have to be a sci fi nerd to enjoy it
Even people who aren´t so in Sci-Fi can read it just because of the characters, like someone who reads Game of Thrones because of an interest in the protagonists and not because of medieval times, magic, and stuff. I think that sci-fi needed something like that, away from the, for an average audience, too complex hard sci-fi, the too slow and less explosive social sci-fi, too indodumpy and tech-focused cyberpunk, and the general very long and complex novels of many other authors.

Side by side together on the legendary shelve
One of the reasons why this series is so great may lie in the cooperation of the authors, that the weaknesses, if there are any, of the one can be compensated by the other and that everyone writes the stuff he is best at. This practice could get interesting in the future, not just with more and more collaborations to produce high-quality content, but with collaborative writing in a fictional social cataloging network, let´s call it goodbook. Whose inhabitants could, with the help of the book adaptability quote, become professional at escalating the whole thing very quickly, because the knowledge and experience of thousands of readers of specific genres are immense and the one or other might have already played with the thought of writing something, but has problems with the plot or the characters or the twists or… is just a lazy as heck procrastinating slacker. Ahem

Nom nom in space
Growing food in space is a tricky thing, even with advantages such as permanent solar energy and sunshine or someday taming and using the power of black holes, etc., but the side effect is the omnipresent danger of being a very attractive target in case of a war, of getting sabotaged or of errors, black swans, tiny imbalances that accumulate to a collapse of the food production. Personally, I would avoid direct sunlight, drill deep inside asteroids, dwarf planets, or planets and build underground farming complexes, avoiding most dangers this way and focusing on a mix of bioreactors and farming, to have 2 independent food production lines in case of catastrophes.

Necromanced vomit zombies. In space!
Zombies in space that vomit, what else could one´s heart wish for? But seriously, the average umbrella corporation zombie reason with out of control bioweapons can be greatly extended when one goes to space. Be it parasites, symbionts, programs converting all biological mass into something more useful for them, mind control,... it´s always great fun.

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 tropeicaltiy t I´ve ever seen.
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
May 2, 2020
4.5/5 stars

Avasarala is finally here!!!

Unlike Leviathan Wakes, I’m venturing into uncharted territory within the series for the first time here. By that, I meant that I haven’t watched any part of Caliban’s War, the second book in The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey duo, in the television series adaptation except for some episodes consisting of Avasarala and Bobbie. Caliban’s War is a superior book compared to Leviathan Wakes in every aspect. This is caused mostly by Corey’s decision to expand—pun intended, get used to this—the number of POV characters from two to four characters. This ended up being a terrific narrative decision. The distinction in character’s voices and personality allows the duo to display their strength as an author further as they tightened the pacing and the plot through several more different character’s perspectives rather than being constricted merely to Holden and Miller’s like before. Although I did love Holden and Miller, there were several chapters in the first book where their narrative felt like indistinguishable; it was like they’re the exact same character in a different situation. This kind of situation doesn’t happen at all in Caliban’s War.

The three completely new POV characters being introduced here were highly entertaining in their own way. Firstly, we have Prax, a scientist searching for his beloved daughter—Mei—in the war-torn Ganymede. Secondly, we have Bobbie, a Martian marine who watches her entire platoon slaughtered by an inexplicably monstrous supersoldier, and now she seeks revenge and revelations. Finally, we have Avasarala, a witty and foul-mouthed politician struggling to prevent an intergalactic war from reoccurring. Obviously, Holden and the crew of Rocinante are back again with their adventures, and they eventually find their fates being connected with all of the new character’s storylines. The increase in the number of POV characters brings balance in emotion and pacing to the narrative; the themes of responsibility, family, redemption, and love were dealt with care through the eyes of these characters.

“If life transcends death, then I will seek for you there. If not, then there too.”

I know I’m only two books into the series so far, and there are still seven more books for me to read before I’m done with it, but the characters are truly the heart of the narrative. The characterizations for all of the characters were wonderful. And I can’t emphasize how much I loved Chrisjen Avasarala. What a freaking badass grandma; we should all bow down to her. Avasarala has appeared in the TV series since the first season; I was disappointed to find that she didn’t appear yet in the first book. But wow, I didn’t expect that Avasarala in the book would cuss more fatally.
“I need not remind you all of the years I spent as a political prisoner.”
“Oh fuck me,” Avasarala said, clapping her hands in glee. “He’s using the outsider speech. That man’s asshole must be tight enough right now to bend space.”

It was incredibly entertaining to witness her cunning and cussing in actions; it reminded me of reading The Gentleman Bastards series by Scott Lynch. However, that’s not the only good part of her story. Avasarala is talented at politics but she’s not all-mighty, she does have a weakness in her, and I think this is what makes her a better character to root for; her greatness that she allowed the public to see is a part of her “mask”. I also loved Avasarala’s and Arjun’s relationship. It’s highly refreshing to read a mature relationship that’s not infuriating to read sometimes. Both Avasarala and Arjun has gone through years of marriage; they could perceive, understand, and comfort each other through facial expressions, gesture, or a few words. All of these praises doesn’t apply exclusively to Avasarala; Holden, Bobbie, Prax, and the side characters do have their own moments to shine. This kind of personalization and relationship building is what Corey does well as an author.

Caliban’s War is a worthy sequel to Leviathan Wakes; it’s better in every aspect. Although Corey’s prose isn’t particularly memorable per se, it truly gets the job of telling an accessibly entertaining story filled with great characters operating in an expansive universe done. I look forward to reading the third book in the series, Abaddon’s Gate, soon.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books249k followers
January 17, 2020
Things go very wrong in the colony on Ganymede.

”It grabbed an UN Marine in its huge hands and tore him in half like paper. Titanium-and-ceramic armor ripped as easily as the flesh inside, spilling broken bits of technology and wet human viscera indiscriminately onto the ice. The remaining five soldiers ran even harder, but the monster chasing them barely slowed as it killed.

‘Shoot it shoot it shoot it,’ Bobbie yelled, and opened fire.

The creature was a relatively slow-moving human-sized target, running a straight line. Her targeting computer could do ballistic corrections that would let her hit a softball-size object moving at supersonic speeds. Every bullet she fired at the monster hit.

It didn’t matter.”

 photo Moon_Ganymede_by_NOAA_zpsfxvtyybq.jpg

In the first book in this series Leviathan Wakes, the universe is nearly destroyed by a protomolecule bomb/creature. After some heroics and more than a bit of dumb luck, the virus is plunged into Venus to burn up, right?

That would be a negatory.

Luckily, our plucky hero James Holden, a cross between James T. Kirk and Holden Caulfield, is still mucking up the universe along with his stalwart companions on the Martian ship Rocinante. They aren’t Martians, but they did... of their sleek fighters with a working coffee pot. It is the small things when the universe is on the verge of destruction...again.

Ganymede, the breadbasket of the universe, is under attack. The goo that destroyed Eros has been oozed into a section of the station. A young girl is kidnapped for nefarious biological purposes, and her father, Praxidike Meng, will do anything to get her back. He needs help, and as fate will have it, he runs into the one guy who is crazy enough to take on the search for his daughter while Mars, Earth, and The Belters (born in space) all square up for war.

Jim Holden is his guy.

Meanwhile, the politics behind the scenes are heating up, and Avasarala, the dignified but potty mouthed representative of Earth, finds herself right in the middle of a space standoff. She has hired Bobbie, the Martian Marine who survived the attack of the new protomolecule creatures on Ganymede, to be her liaison with the Martian government, doubling as a very capable bodyguard as well. When they intersect with Jim Holden and his crew on the Rocinante, sparks really start to fly. Bobbi is about 150% of the size of a normal woman. She is descended from Samoan warriors, and when she first meets Jim Holden, he is gobsmacked. He has conflicting urges.”Mate with it! Flee from it!”

 photo Venus_zpsr7afb5cz.jpg

When Venus starts shooting off protomolecule bombs at ships in space, regardless of their affiliations, these creatures explode right through the sides of the ships and turn the crew members into...yes, if you read the first book or watched the TV show The Expanse, you know what they become.

Vomit Zombies

Holden is suffering from Post Traumatic Miller Syndrome after Miller was killed. They both took a lethal dose of radiation poisoning on Eros. ”The radiation dose he’d received there meant he had to take constant medications to stop the cancers that kept blooming in his tissues. He’d still gotten off lighter than Miller.” Miller saved the world by diverting the protomolecule concoction into Venus instead of its intended target Earth, but he failed to save himself. Miller was Philip Marlowe, only more pissed off. He was more like a version of Marlowe with a swarm of wasps jabbing their stingers into his balls. Since Miller’s death, Holden has been more reckless, more aggressive, as almost a tribute to his dead friend, but that isn’t who Holden is supposed to be.

He is a crusader. A guy who shoots last. A guy who always tries to do the right thing. A guy who can’t help but make any situation much worse before he figures out how to make it better.

I have to say I’m really enjoying the humor, the politics, the grand scale of the world they are building, and the personalities of the characters. The TV series brings the concepts to life, and with the second season about to begin, I was up against the wall to get the second book read in time. I will not wait so long to read book three. So strap yourself in, let the drugs marinate your system so you can survive the g-forces, and for a few hours escape your life in an epic space adventure.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:
Profile Image for Baba.
3,621 reviews988 followers
September 4, 2023
The Expanse - 2: The Expanse universe is further expanded with action on Ganymede, Io, Luna, and Earth! Venus looks like it's being alien-formed as the Solar System watches. Whilst the alien intent is self evident, mankind is intent in making the most out of the instability as the forces that started this all off, look to further their aims and goals with the alien Protomolecule. The quest for a five-year old emerges as the central cause that brings Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos back into the spotlight, and the all encompassing threats of the Protomolecule. Earlier on Ganymede, Jupiter's moon, Martian marine Bobbi, had a really bad day...

Such a detailed and seemingly believable far-ish future has been built by the two voices that make up James S.A. Corey, but for all the great reality building, plotting, dialogue and inherent jeopardy of being off-Earth, it's two of the female characterisations that blow me away - 1. There's UN big-wig Indian Avasarala, who loves drinking tea, cussing (and I mean hard core cussing) and finds herself doing a fine job, because no one else appears capable, and 2. one of my fave female characters ever Bobbi Draper, a big brown-skinned girl, big as in height, muscles and heart; such an unconventional protagonist and one that has to not only fight the 'baddies' but also come to terms with her own Martian authorities not being there for this super patriot.

I really wish that I hadn't watched the TV show first, as it has not only coloured my mind, but because it stayed so true to the book, it's hard to read it without picturing the show and or taking parts of the show unknowingly and making them part of the read? So I can't really differentiate from the show that I love, and the book, that I might love because I've watched the show, although I was on tenterhooks for the last 100 pages and fully invested. An 8 out of 12, fabulous Four Star read.

2023 and 2012 read
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,974 followers
May 19, 2017
**Reread update 5/17/17**

One big thing that stands out to me going back to this after reading all the available books in the series is that my complaint about distinct bad guys not getting introduced until very late in the stories was addressed. From this point on we almost always have a face of the threat through most of the action, and that’s an improvement that made a great series even better.

I also wanted to check this out again after seeing the second season of the TV series. The show has gotten so good that I’m now visualizing all the characters as the actors who play them while reading. There’s also an interesting dynamic in that that the two-headed writer who makes up the James SA Corey name also works on the show, and since they have the advantage of knowing what’s going to happen for the next several books it’s able to shade in lot of character nuance and motivations that were just a little thin and simplistic in the early going.

So now I’m counting the days until the new book publishes and the next season premieres.

(Original review.)
Essentially this is a mix of Game of Thrones and Firefly without all the rape and child burning and people talking like they’re in a western movie.

Humanity has expanded throughout our solar system, colonizing Mars and various moons and asteroids. Since people are always gonna be people, and will therefore suck, political tensions are high between Earth, Mars, and the Belters, and the events of the first book in the series have the threat of war seeming higher than ever. And just like in Westeros everyone is so consumed with their petty scheming and power plays that they’re ignoring the much larger threat that is growing under their noses. So it falls to a crew of misfits running their own ship for profit to step in when the shit hits the air recyclers.

This on-going space opera has sucked me in to its… solar system completely with its spaceships, action, politics, and weird sci-fi elements mixed with just enough humor and emotional weight to give it some heft beyond its pew!-pew! appeal. The characters are well drawn even if they aren’t particularly deep, and their motivations are plainly spelled out in their dialogue. So this is all text, no subtext, but it is entertaining. I particularly liked the new character of Chrisjen Avasarala, a grandmother and UN official from Earth whose little old lady appearance is subverted by her foul mouth and political cunning.

However, the series so far has suffered a bit from not giving us any perspective from the vast conspiracy that is causing so much of the trouble. Granted, some of this has been played as a mystery to solve, but for two books now we’ve gotten no sense of who the bad guys are or what they're planning other than what’s been figured out by the heroes. Both books have finally revealed a kind of mid-level mastermind character near the end, and in both cases these have been full on mustache twirling villains so the threat they pose seems kind of vague and cartoonish.

Still, this one ends on a helluva twist that has me itching to roll right into the next one, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough when I was in the midst of this. I’ll be happily returning to the Expanse series as soon as possible.

Plus, this trailer for the show coming to SyFy based on the series has got me even more excited.
Profile Image for carol..
1,575 reviews8,226 followers
January 30, 2015
Leviathan Wakes was one of my great reads this year (review: ). It broke into my reading blahs and set off a trend of great reads. After finishing, I promptly placed a library request for Caliban’s War, out of general interest and just the tiniest bit of series OCD. When it arrived, I was in the middle of monthly reads for my book club, then all hell broke open over at Goodreads, resulting in a loss of reading mojo, quickly followed by reviewing mojo. Bridge of Birds brought me back to reading, but my reviewing despondency has lingered.

Caliban’s War fails to live up to the fun, plotting or consistency of Leviathan Wakes, though the writers tried their best by slapping a new cover on a heavily recycled version of the Leviathan. Narrative again begins with a point of view from a female character who won’t be heard from again, but will serve as the object/grail for obsessive male questors as they careen through space. Again, we have Jim Holden surrendering to his Tourette syndrome tendencies as he tilts at windmills and volunteers for suicide missions. Unsurprisingly, we also have the protomolecule, spaceships, and a Mars versus Earth versus Belters conflict.

Because I continue my review with off-topic digressions about libraries and a mild speculation about author sexism, both of which violate GR's terms of service for on-topic, non-author-bashing reviews, the rest of this review will be continued at:

Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
July 6, 2015
OK, I liked this book but...


I think that at its core, this second book is was too much similar to the first one.

I mean, there is a search for a girl (different age but the same basic idea), a mystery about a threat, and the tensions between the policital powers.

The only difference is that while the first book, Leviathan Wakes can be read a stand-alone book if you wish, maybe since the authors weren't sure to get the chance of... expanding it (pun intended)... for a series.

However, here, in the second book, they already know that they have a series, so they leave it in a cliffhanger, to ensure the reading of the following books.


I like two of the main new characters: Bobbie and Avarasala. Both different but both strong female characters and very different to the standard basic female leads in sci-fi books. That was certainly refreshing to read.

However, I couldn't stand Prax, he was so annoying, I understand that he was under many stress but still I felt a downside each time that I met with a chapter written from his point of view. Those were dragging episodes to read.

And something disappointing, in my personal case, while reading this second book, is that, between Holden and Miller, in the first book, I liked more (much much more!) Miller, while Holden was just okay, too naive fool to my taste. And here, this second book, I got only Holden but not Miller, GEEZ!!!, a real big downside for me.

There are some other things that I could comment, but I could spoil some stuff so I won't do it.

Still it's a very good book and the whole deal with details in each aspect of the society shown in this book (or this series) is way amazing and very distintive to call on its own.

So, it's not perfect, it's not awesome, but it's a pretty good reading for any interested about getting into a new sci-fi series, recently published.

Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
737 reviews1,262 followers
August 1, 2018
Via The Obsessive Bookseller at

I was a little hesitant to pick up Caliban’s War because the first book (Leviathan Wakes) was so amazing, how could the second book possibly compare? I was even worried I’d get bored because I thought I’d figured out which characters we’d be following and what direction the story was headed… Boy was I wrong! And happy to be so. It was definitely different from the first novel, and didn’t lack any of the adventure and excitement!

As I mentioned, I thought I knew which characters we’d hear from in Caliban’s War and was pleasantly surprised with the introduction of a handful of brand-new POVs who added fresh perspectives to the story without losing any momentum. Of course, it wouldn’t have been the same without Holden and his crew and I’m thrilled he seems to be the through-line for the series. Some of the new characters are among my favorite so far (specifically Avasarala, the feisty old politician – if I had half of her gusto, I’d be unstoppable!). As always, each character was interesting and well-rounded and I am eager to see who’s featured in the third novel.

The conflicts in this novel are a lot narrower, but by no means less exciting. It’s all working to build this brilliant momentum, and great momentum is what sets apart good books from great books in my opinion. Most of my favorite series have that in common. To that end, Caliban’s War gets an A+ for pacing. It’s that “holyshit-hold-your-breath-until-it-over” type of stuff that I love. I actually had to stop reading it before bed because it would get me too wound up to sleep.

Overall, if you like fast-paced adventure and excitement in your books, you’ll love these! I am certain I will be reading them again.

Recommended Reading: I would hand this series to sci-fi lovers, but it’s definitely a space opera (my new favorite genre). This is also an excellent series to hand someone wanting to try either genre. All I can say is, hold onto your seats – it’s going to be a wild ride!
Profile Image for Apatt.
507 reviews807 followers
February 25, 2016
When I read the first book of The Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes I was not that impressed with it. It was, however, an instant hit with the majority of the sci-fi readership. My main problem was that I did not really care for the main characters. Consequently, I decided not to continue with the series. Then a few months ago Syfy started broadcasting The Expanse Season 1 their adaptation of Leviathan Wakes to practically universal acclaim. I wondered if I may have somehow misjudged the book so I binge-watched the TV show and—to cut a long story short—I thought it was great! However, I did not want to reread Leviathan Wakes to reassess it, I want to know what happen next in the series so I went and bought a copy of Caliban's War and that’s the end of this dull intro!

Caliban's War continues the story of some Earth politician’s attempt to weaponize the weird alien life form called the Protomolecule and our heroes struggle to stop them and save the entire human race in the process. The heroes are mainly the crew of the spaceship Rocinante introduced in the previous book, plus three new—mostly excellent—characters. The most important of these is Chrisjen Avasarala, Assistant to the Undersecretary of Executive Administration, a lengthy job title which basically means she is an important figure in the Earth Government (yes, Earth has just the one Government in this future). More interestingly, she is an Indian lady in her seventies who is extremely intelligent, an expert at political machination, and cusses up a storm every time she opens her mouth.

Chrisjen Avasarala, looking younger than her description in the book.

This very lively creation makes me reflect on how unbelievable most of “strong women” in sci-fi are. They are mainly based on the Ellen Ripley template of ass-kicking sci-fi women, and usually result in male characters who happen to be female. Chrisjen Avasarala is more like Margarette Thatcher than Ellen Ripley. Fortunately for mankind, she is on the side of the angels. There is also an Ellen Ripley-like female marine called Roberta Draper, a much less believable character but quite well developed and fun.

The great thing about reading Caliban's War soon after watching The Expanse TV show is that I now have an affinity for the main characters. If I had relied on my sieve-like memory of the previous book it just would not have worked. Now the bantering among the crew of “The Rocinante” has some resonance. Also, the vividness of their TV counterpart makes it easy to put names to faces, so they are almost as familiar to me as the crew of the USS Enterprise.

Beside the great character work Caliban's War also has a fast-paced, intriguing and exciting plot, with some nicely detailed world building. The strained relations between Earth, the Mars colony and the Belters (colonies on the minor planets of the Asteroid Belt) feel very real, and the main characters tremendous efforts to prevent all out warfare is quite gripping. The climax is really edge of the seat reading and far surpasses anything on Leviathan Wakes (an additional pair of pants recommended while reading this book).

I also love the science and the minutiae of space-faring like:

“Gravity in the ship had shifted subtly. Instead of thrust from the drive creating the illusion of weight, it now came from the spin of the ring they were clamped to. Prax felt like he was tilting slightly to the side whenever he stood up straight”
Passages like this remind me of Arthur C. Clarke at his best, they make the reading experience very immersive.

In my review of Leviathan Wakes I complained about the labeling of each chapter with the character’s point of view ( Game of Thrones style) which I felt was unnecessary and distracting. The authors* use the same narrative format here but this time around it works much better because there are four points of view to switch around rather than just two. The several plot strands are also woven beautifully. I also enjoy the variety in the narrative, the bantering dialogue, the subtle political maneuvers, the romance, and especially the running, shooting, alien blasting derring-do's. The book is like one stop shopping for me.

So, bravo! Highly recommended for sci-fi fans, especially if you are into the subgenres of space opera and military sci-fi—with a touch of horror. I won’t retract my less favorable review of Leviathan Wakes. If I were to reread it I will probably appreciate it more, but that is an honest review, as is this one. Definitely looking forward to book #3, Abaddon's Gate.

* James S. A. Corey is a pseudonym of the two co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

World building quote:
“Ganymede Station was one of the first permanent human toeholds in the outer planets. It had been built with the long term in mind, not only in its own architecture, but also in how it would fit with the grand human expansion out into the darkness at the edge of the solar system. The possibility of catastrophe was in its DNA and had been from the beginning. It had been the safest station in the Jovian system. Just the name had once brought to mind images of newborn babies and domes filled with food crops. But the months since the mirrors fell had corroded it.”

Spaceship life quote:
“He’d never actually walked with mag boots before, and it was a strange sensation. For most of the stride, his leg felt free and almost uncontrolled, and then, as he brought his foot toward the hull, there would be a moment, a critical point, when the force took hold and slammed him to the metal. He made his way floating and being snatched down, step by step.”
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,223 followers
November 29, 2020
5.0 Stars
Spoiler Discussion Video:

I often struggle with sequels, because, in my personal experience, they rarely live up to the perfection of first novels. Therefore, I'm happy to pronounce that Caliban's War was a solid sequel to Leviathan Wakes. I would even go so far as to suggest that it might even be a better novel than the first in some ways.

This novel provides a lot of character development to the cast of misfits introduced in the first book, along with introducing a several new characters. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of two female leads who were both strong, kick-butt ladies, but for very different reasons. I personally am not a fan of the romance side plot that has developed between two of the characters, but that is more of a personal preference.

The story itself moved forward at a good pace, keeping me engaged the whole time. The authors managed a good balance of action, politics and personal development. As with the first book, the chapters cycle through a small cast of characters providing different perspectives on events and pushing the narrative forward..

One of my favourite aspects of the Expanse series is the world-building. I particularly loved reading the differences between the cultures of Earth, Mars & the Belt. I found the discussions of population control & unemployment polices to be just as fascinating as the horrific space monsters lurking in our solar system.

Needless to say, I am very excited to read the next book in the series. Bring on Abaddon's Gate!
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,104 followers
July 7, 2018
Re-Read 7/7/18

It's so great doing a re-read. I mean, I was somewhat hesitant at first but it's so rich with detail and the action is perfect. And by action, I don't just mean Bobby in her Goliath suit. I mean Avasarala on her com. :) Avasarala is a FORCE to behold. :)

All in all, though, this second book happens to kick major butt. Venus really stole the show by the end, but all the Powers butting heads was also fun as hell.

Did anyone else whoop when Avasarala and Bobby got on the Rocinante?

It was truly great both times I read it. :)

Original Review:

The Expanse series is rapidly becoming one of my favorite stories, and it's only partly due to the scope. Look: If I'm going to read a space-opera, I want huge, Huge, HUGE scope, right? Well, it's my own preferences here, so the answer is a definite YES! I know a little astronomy and scale and putting all of that in perspective with what the hell just happened at the end of this novel is right likely to blow my mind, if it hadn't already been blown when I read Stephen Baxter's The Ring. That's not really that important right now, though, because this novel isn't that novel. This is a much better novel in all the ways that count; in characters, in action, in complicated drama and fully believable, no... engrossing settings.

I think I've read some fantastic space-opera, before, and I think of Bujold as one of the best, but now I will be putting these two guys at the head of the class. Thank you, D.A. and T.F.! For the rest of you peeps sitting on the fence about reading these books, get off your asses and get some startle on.
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,992 followers
February 16, 2020
4 to 4.5 stars

The Space Opera continues and it ain't over until the fat lady sings . . . or, until you make your way through several oversized tomes!

I don't really have anything to add to this review that I didn't already already cover in my review of Leviathan Wakes. It is another epic in the middle of a bigger epic. The characters are dynamic and interesting. The action is intense. The horror is terrifyingly. All in all, a satisfying and exhausting experience.

When I read books and series like this, I am just so awed and impressed by the intricacies of the plot and it's development. It is so big, I have no idea how they keep up with everything they have created. Also, something will happen and the end of book two that it is obvious they were planning for at the beginning of book one. I picture a huge flowchart an the wall and a lot of double checking with each twist to make sure it still fits within the overall story. Again - impressive!

For sci-fi fans, I really don't think you can go wrong. And, another thing I keep thinking of as I work through this series is the show Firefly/movie Serenity. Anyone else feel that way? Maybe that is what they were going for here!
Profile Image for Ginger.
789 reviews373 followers
December 10, 2022
Fantastic addition to the series!

Caliban's War was just as good as the first book in the series, Leviathan Wakes.
In fact, this addition adds three new points of view (characters) to the series and two are favorites now.

Gunnery Sergeant Bobby Draper of the Martian Marine Corps and Chrisjen Avasarala, the assistant to the undersecretary of the United Nations.

Both characters bring so much more to this series. They are both badass in their own specific ways and their working relationship with each other is rewarding and fun to follow.

The third new POV that's added to the plot is Praxidike Meng who's a botanist for the atmosphere and ecological system of Ganymede.
I enjoyed Prax for his sense of innocence with all things involving war, weapons and violence, along with his unconditional love for his missing daughter Mei.
I enjoyed the difference with him vs Amos who can be a brutal killer and enforcer for the Rocinante.

All the extra world building and politics with Mars, Earth and the Belters gives the series more depth and intrigue with dealing with the protomolecule.
And of course, the action is top notch like the first book and the level of danger in the galaxy just keeps leveling up.

I love everything about this series!

It should not have taken me this long to get to The Expanse with my love of sci-fi, fantastic characters and complex plots. I'm excited to get to the next book in the series!
Profile Image for Choko.
1,221 reviews2,597 followers
December 26, 2017
*** 4.25 ***

"...“That man’s asshole must be tight enough right now to bend space.”..."

It must be the right time for me and Sci-Fi, because I loved it! Caliban's War is the second installment in the "Expance" series and I actually enjoyed it better than the first one! No, nothing was wrong with the first one either, I even missed our pulp-noir drunken detective with nothing to lose, but fortunately the authors gave us to kick-ass female characters who more than made up for Miller's loss.

"...“Well, you’ve got a full load of torpedoes and bullets, three Martian warships trailing you, one angry old lady in tea withdrawal, and a Martian Marine who could probably kill you with your own teeth. What do you do?”..."

So, we already know the crew of the Martian ship Rocinante, both appropriated by the free agent Captain James Holden. Somehow, Holden ends up as the very well known face of the person who started the war between Mars, the Belt and Earth with his ideological stick up his ass, and the poster boy for speaking the truth no matter the consequences or the validity of what he believes is the truth. He has not changed much, although it seems that he has been getting a bit out of control and becoming very militant with it, which is upsetting those who know him best. He also gets called out on his self-righteous impulses and I love that I am not the only one who is obviously bugged by that:). Luckily for the very battered scientist of the Ganymede station which produces most vegetative edible forms in the System, Prax, Holden's popularity might help him find his lost 5 year old daughter, and the good captain and his crew take on the challenge.

"...“Just do not pull that fucking trigger. Do you understand what I'm saying? Don't. You will be personally responsible for the deadliest screwup in the history of humankind, and I'm on a ship with Jim fucking Holden, so the bar's not low.”..."

Ganymede station had been attacked by monsters, who are nothing like anything known before and panic and death follows when as a result of the assault, the space mirrors which are used for light, are falling on the surface and destroying the closed ecosystem. During the pandemonium an unknown scientific croup takes Prax's daughter as well as several other children with a medical condition and disappear. On top of everything, some of the goo that made the vomit-zombies in the first book has been let loose in a section of the station and things get complicated when Earth government makes a connection with all of this and the viral station which ended up on Venice. It seems that the viral organisms are in a hive-like communication and not separate from each other.

"...“Point of clarification,” Alex said, raising his hand. “We have an apocalypse comin’? Was that a thing we knew about?” “Venus,” Avasarala said. “Oh. That apocalypse,” Alex said, lowering his hand. “Right.” ..."

The mistrust and fear between the different galactic governments makes the tension palpable and every entity thinks the other is trying to weaponize the virus in order to destroy the rest. However, one very smart, arrogant, plucky, and somewhat vulgar, yes, she curses like a sailor, Earth politician, Avasarala, who is a diminutive grandma with a tendency for wearing bright colored saris, has a real knack for what might be going on and is determined to prevent intergalactic war, which might lead to the destruction of billions of innocent lives. In order to do that, she recruits the biggest bad-ass Martian Marine, Bobbie, who survived the first attack of the alien monster on Ganymede and is now on Earth to testify as to its existence. Bobbie is being looked upon as a trader by her fellow Martians and hates it, but is also deep enough into the reality of things to understand that Avasarala is doing all she can in order to save all parties involved, Mars included.

"...“They’re all fucking men,” she said. “Excuse me?” Soren said. “The generals. They’re all fucking men.” “I thought Souther was the only—” “I don’t mean that they all fuck men. I mean they’re all men, the fuckers. How long has it been since a woman was in charge of the armed forces? Not since I came here. So instead, we wind up with another example of what happens to policy when there’s too much testosterone in the room.” ..."

I like Holden's crew, I am OK with Holden, but I love Bobbie and Avasarala!!! Particularly Avasarala, with her pain of loss, her ability to play the game on the big stage of politics without losing her soul and humanity, still hoping for the best and loving with all her heart her soulmate, who loves her back unconditionally, just the way she is!!! I am so in love with this character and her life, I can barely express it! I really hope I get to see more of both of them as we go on with the series! I can't wait!!!

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and many more wonderful books to come!!!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,019 reviews3,436 followers
July 7, 2018
In this second installment, we're still following events I already know (more or less) from the show.

After billions of years of being in the Solar system, unable to do what it came here to do, the protomolecule is working hard on finishing its job now, whatever that job is.
We meet a few new players in this second installment, most notably Avasarala and Bobbie. The former is a potty-mouthed deputy to the UN Secretary General, the latter a kick-ass Martian Marine.
These two allow us glimpses at Earth and the political crisis the events from book 1 have sparked throughout the Solar system. Avasarala, while being a politician, is actually a good person, swearing so much that any sailor would blush, but ultimately caring deeply about the future. Therefore, she wants to get the people behind Eros as much as Bobbie, who loses her entire platoon to a new version of a protomolecule-human hybrid and swears revenge.
Then, there is also Prax, a botanist and father of Mei - a child with a rare immune disease. While trying to get his daughter back and figuring out who took her and why, he meets Holden and his crew, and they agree to help him.
After some juggling of bureaucratic idiots, Avasarala and Bobbie team up and eventually also meet the crew of the Rocinante, bringing together all four POVs and giving the reader epic space battles and creepy space stations to explore and fight in.
But let's not forget the old players from book one, because they will factor into the events here as well.

Yes, my favourite characters were definitely "grandma" Avasarala and Bobbie, but also the entire environment of the book. I love the future the two authors are bringing to life here as well as the technology - most notably in this book the Martian Marine armor Bobbie wears.

I must say that I'm actually surprised at the number of events I liked better on the show such as . Both elements seem far better developed and thought through on the show.
However, there are also elements that are much more detailed here in the book, such as . Thus, one could say that the show and the books compliment and complete each other, which is actually quite nice.

Now, I've more or less reached the point where I don't know what's gonna happen (have to catch up on the show but there are also only 3 seasons of it and the book events are progressing farther) so it will be interesting to see how I think and feel about people and events from now on. Naturally, I'm most curious about the mystery behind the protomolecule (should we actually get answers) and .
Profile Image for Dennis.
658 reviews276 followers
November 7, 2021
2021 reread:

Avasarala is still the best. I love that woman. Felt somewhat lukewarm about Holden, to be honest. But his crew is still pretty cool. Overall, though, on this reread the novel was not as close to five stars for me as it was the first time around. But maybe this time I will actually continue with the rest of the series. I guess we'll find out.


2018 review:

I liked this a little better than the first one, I think.

While it doesn't quite reach the highs of Leviathan Wakes, it is more consistent in tone and feels like the overall more polished book.

We get more in-depth characterization of Holden, which was good, and two fantastic new characters in Bobbie and especially Avasarala (she's truly great) more than make up for the absence of Miller and the somewhat scarse appearances of Fred.

Still not quite five star material, in my opinion, but a very engaging space opera nonetheless.

I'd say 4.5 stars and recommended.

Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
554 reviews1,094 followers
January 21, 2020
Dying she could handle.
Dying without any answers seemed terribly cruel.

I read Leviathan Wakes way back. While I enjoyed it well enough, I wasn’t compelled to rush off and start the next book immediately.

But, here we are. And given that this has now been adapted into a TV series (which I haven’t watched yet), the time has come to pick up where I left off…

“Ladies and gentlemen. This settlement is in security lockdown.”

…and I’m glad that I did! If this book is anything to go by the series is shaping up nicely, with the promise of good things to come.

This is a high-profile series, so there are already droves of (positive) reviews here; it makes little sense to add another. But let’s, anyway.

The story doesn’t take long to get going. There is a fair amount of excitement and drama right out of the gates, which sets the tone for the book’s pacing.

Also, I know comparisons aren’t necessarily good form, but I find that they help convey the feel of a story when my vocabulary lets me down:
- The Quiet War: there is more than a passing resemblance to McAuley’s work, from the inner-system / outer-system politics down to the fact that a main character in The Quiet War is a Soil Biologist (Prax from Caliban’s War is a Botanist). The biggest difference, I suppose, is that The Expanse is more action driven.
- Firefly: obvious enough. Except: with more actual science.

To be clear, I don’t intend these comparisons to be taken as criticism, but it adds some context to what can be expected from this book. The general feel of this Universe, if you will.

It’s noteworthy that the authors can create a sense of Space Operatic grandiosity, while still keeping everything rooted in the kind of verisimilitude that near future Hard Science Fiction is normally known for. This marriage of style and substance does create something that is possibly slightly bigger than the sum of its parts.

The best scientific minds of the system were staring at the data with their jaws slack, and the reason no one was panicking yet was that no one could agree on what they should panic about.

And of course, the elephant in the room protomolecule. This obviously (still) makes for some scary shit s**t, and is the baited “hook” of the series. It’s a good one too. Horror and in Science Fiction is a fantastic mix if done right. It’s utilized to fine effect here; the authors are wisely not bombarding the reader with zombie sequences all the time (something which would reduce their impact). They’re kept in reserve for just the right moment. I would have loved to learn more about the origin of the protomolecule, especially considering the closing sequences of the novel. Explanations had better be forthcoming in the next instalment.

When the battle began, it began all at once.

I have to say I found the action sequences pretty damn exciting. I can imagine that all of this would translate well to the visual medium.

Of course, no SF novel would be complete without some wonder:

Some part of [him] was disappointed that the transit was so dangerous. He’d never flown to Io before, and the view of the moon at the edge of his screens was spectacular. A massive volcano of molten silicate on the opposite side of the moon was throwing particles so high into space he could see the trail it left in the sky. The plume cooled into a spray of silicate crystals, which caught Jupiter’s glow and glittered like diamonds scattered across the black. Some of them would drift off to become part of Jupiter’s faint ring system, blown right out of Io’s gravity well. In any other circumstance, it would have been beautiful.

I’m not giving this book 5 stars though. Why? While I really enjoyed Caliban’s War it isn’t all rosy: for one thing, despite feeling like a better novel than its predecessor (as mentioned above), it also felt a bit “samey”. Like a repeat performance, if you will, albeit a better rehearsed one. Also, I didn’t care too much for a few of the characters. A chain is as strong as its weakest link; for example, I really liked Bobbie Draper but Prax annoyed me.

So, other than that there isn’t too much to add. This is the second book in (what appears to be) a nine-book series. As such it serves as a sequel as well as a set up for whatever comes next, which is a bit of an Achilles heel in itself, albeit an expected one. It does its job commendably; in the end everything comes together nicely. If Leviathan Wakes was a 3.5 rounded up, this one is a solid 4.0.

“We’re all traitors now.”
“Only if we lose.”
Profile Image for Char.
1,682 reviews1,556 followers
June 10, 2020
CALIBAN'S WAR is the second book in The Expanse series, and this is the one that made me a true fan and ensured my continuation of the series.

I want to make a special mention of the character Chrisjen Avasarala, the UN official-OMG her foul mouth had me laughing my ass off! She was a new character in this volume, as was Bobbi, (a Martian Marine), and Prax, a botanist on Ganymede. I loved them.

I also want to say that this narrator is fabulous!

Highly recommended! (But you must read this series in order to get everything you can out of it.)

I downloaded this book from my local library. Libraries RULE!
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews99 followers
February 3, 2018
Avasarala and Bobbi are great! They get to be a lot stronger than the show.

Love the firefly led into the next book.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
1,018 reviews1,184 followers
May 2, 2019
More like 4 and a half.

Yup, I drank the damn Kool-Aid and now I’m reading this series of inconveniently huge paperbacks. Sigh. What can I tell you: “The Expanse” is everything I could possibly want a space opera to be, both on the page and on the screen. It’s intricately plotted, furiously paced (I have screamed: “One more episode!” at my husband too many times to keep count), filled with awesome and diverse characters, and the world building is amazing. Now my struggle is figuring out how to free up shelf space for them…

“Caliban’s War” begins pretty much where “Leviathan Wakes” ( left off: Earth has been saved by the skin of its teeth, thanks to James Holden and Joe Miller’s unlikely team work and sacrifice, but that doesn’t mean anyone in the Solar System has had much time to catch their breath. The Ganymede station is attacked and no one seems to know by whom (or what!), the governments of both Earth and Mars are simply itching to launch bombs at each other, and while crashing Eros on Venus was the best option available at the time, it turns out to have had serious consequences… Holden is still shaken up from saving Earth from the protomolecule, and seems to grieve by taking on some of Miller’s less recommendable traits, like extreme snarkiness and being a reckless wildcard who shoots first and asks questions never… He decides to help one of the survivors of the attack on Ganymede, a botanist named Prax Meng, who believes his daughter was kidnapped for nefarious purposes. On Earth, formidable political animal Chrisjen Avasarala works on preventing a System-wide war, and while her intentions are good, her methods can best be called questionable on certain occasions. She enlists the help of Martian Marine (ironic that they use the word "Marine" for soldiers from a desert planet...), Bobbie Draper, a rather intimidating woman who saw things the Martian military would like her not to talk about...

The Earth vs. Mars vs. the Belt conflict strikes me as depressingly realistic: the sign of excellent speculative fiction is that you read it and think to yourself “yup, that would totally happen”, which is absolutely the case with the complicated political mess that is this colonization of the Solar System. The SyFy adaptation is perfectly cast, so I now picture all the characters as they are portrayed on TV, but I must say that I am really pleased with the characterization as the series evolves: while the pacing doesn’t leave much room for deep dives into anyone’s back story, I find them all interesting and endearing in their own weird way. It’s also really lovely to have female characters in sci-fi who are not cookie-cutter stereotypes or defined by their sexuality: they have personalities, are competent at their jobs, flawed and layered.

Obviously, I missed Miller (#rememberthehat), who will always be sexy AF Thomas Jane in my (admittedly dirty) mind, but I was so excited to revisit the Rocinante’s crew (I simply adore Naomi!) and to finally meet Chrisjen Avasarala on the page! I am both fascinated and freaked out by this incredible lady, who makes Machiavelli sound like a garden-variety pencil pusher, and who rocks a million colourful saris. Of course, no Miller POV means the noir detective storyline and tone is gone, but the Firefly-type humor is still there (“If he hadn’t been the executive of the largest government body in the history of the human race, he’d have made a killing promoting health drinks.”), as is the plot’s constant hopping from fire to frying pan, which makes the book hard to put down. The addition of Prax is great, because it gives the reader a scientist’s perspective on the events unfolding, which makes the world building even more complex and interesting.

I don’t think any space opera series will ever top Becky Chambers’ “Wayfarer” series in my nerd-heart, but I’d say this is coming in at a close second. If you liked the first book, keep reading the series! And watch the show!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews35 followers
February 23, 2020
Caliban's War (Expanse, #2), James S.A. Corey

Caliban's War is a 2012 science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). It is about a conflict in the solar system that involves Earth, Mars, and the Asteroid Belt (colonies of people living on asteroids, referred to as "Belters"). It is the second book in The Expanse series.

On Ganymede, Mei Meng is kidnapped from her preschool by her doctor. Several hours later, Earth and Martian space marines are attacked and effortlessly killed by a super soldier, with Bobbie Draper, a Martian marine, the only survivor. Earth and Mars begin a shooting war which throws Ganymede into chaos. In the aftermath, Mei's father Praxidike Meng fruitlessly searches for his daughter in the midst of the societal breakdown in the Ganymede colony.

Several months later, the crew of the Rocinante are tasked with delivering emergency aid to Ganymede. Meng spots James Holden during a food riot and asks the crew to help find his daughter. They agree and are able to trace her kidnappers to unused tunnels on the moon. Holden, Meng, and ship mechanic Amos Burton discover a secret lab. In the midst of a shootout with lab security, they inadvertently release another super soldier who kills some of the lab personnel. In the wake of the battle, the crew find remnants of the protomolecule and the corpse of Mei's friend, who was being treated by Mei's doctor for immunodeficiency. The crew rush to escape the station as more chaos erupts around them, and are able to make it back aboard the Rocinante.

Draper is brought to the peace talks between Earth and Mars occurring on Earth, giving testimony regarding the super soldier attack on Ganymede. She violates diplomatic protocol and is dismissed by the Martian delegation, but is then hired by Chrisjen Avasarala, who is leading the UN negotiations. Draper discovers that Avasarala's assistant is betraying her, leading Avasarala to conclude that her UN superiors are trying to get rid of her, from which she deduces that a group within the UN is responsible for the super soldier attack. Avasarala allows Draper to be brought along as her bodyguard on a slow-moving yacht headed to Ganymede on an ostensible relief mission.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه ژانویه سال 2018 میلادی

عنوان: گستره: کتاب دوم: جنگ کالیبان؛ نویسنده: جیمز اس.ای. کوری؛

ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews195 followers
October 20, 2017
The second novel in The Expanse series finds Holden and the crew of the Rocinante trying to stop further attempts to weaponize the protomolecule, with a little help from a Martian marine, a belt-born botanist, and a UN power broker.
As exciting and action packed as the first book, and nearly as good. The ending, while spectacular, doesn't quite pack the emotional punch of its predecessor.
Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.7k followers
August 15, 2023
2023: still as good on re-read, if not more enjoyable! I really enjoyed the audio narration of this series.
Profile Image for Derkanus.
91 reviews80 followers
May 18, 2016
On Ganymede (a Jovian moon sporting crops for the outer planets, where many Belter women go to give birth), a young girl named Mei (who has Myers-Skelton Premature Immunosenescence requiring daily medication) is taken out of class by her doctor (Dr. Strictland) and a lady posing as her mother. They take her to a lab containing a glass case housing someone infected by the protomolecule.

Martian marine Bobbie (Roberta Draper) is patrolling Ganymede. Her squad's comms drop out and they are (seemingly) attacked by Earth marines; it turns out, however, that the UN troops were fleeing from someone infected with protomolecule. Shooting the monster doesn't seem to damage it, and it proceeds to rip the marines apart (even one in a giant mech) with its bare hands. It's just about to kill Bobbie when it grows another arm, then promptly explodes in a ball of fire. Bobbie wakes up days later in a hospital. Her superiors don't believe her story about the monster until they watch the video from her gun cam.

Space battles around Ganymede between the UNN and the MCRN causes one of the gigantic orbital mirrors (used to direct sunlight to crops) to crash into the planet, destroying the lab where Praxidike Meng, botanical engineer, works.
He evacuates and goes to daycare to retrieve his daughter Mei, only to find she's been taken by Dr. Strickland and a lady the computer system said was her mom, but actually wasn't. Prax searches every day amongst all the casualties for his daughter, but she never turns up. His brother, whose son is also missing, leaves without his son.

Holden and the crew of the Rocinante (Naomi, Amos, and Alex) are doing mundane work for Fred Johnson (leader of the OPA on Tycho Station) hunting down space pirates when Fred calls them back because of the Ganymede situation. They take an inconspicuous ship, the Somnambulist (the one they saved from pirates), to Ganymede (Alex hangs back in the Roci) to check out the situation.

Chrisjen Avasarala, assistant to the undersecretary of executive administration on Earth, is trying to stave off the coming war between Earth and Mars. She notices there's a spike in activity around Venus (where the protomolecule-infected Eros station crashed after the "Eros incident") during the Ganymede attack; she interviews Jules-Pierre Mao, thinking perhaps "Julie" may have contacted him from Venus. He won't admit to anything, but she thinks he knows much more than he's letting on. She also gets intelligence reports saying Holden is on Ganymede, and that Admiral Nguyen has secretly been deploying Earth ships there as well. She pulls some strings and pulls all the ships back, averting war.

Prax give up his food to a hacker in exchange for videos from Mei's daycare. He finds the videos of the woman and the doctor, but the hacker won't show him more unless Prax gets him some chicken. Prax recognizes Holden from his previous broadcasts, and ask Holden to help him find Mei. The hacker gets Prax the videos he wants after they bring him a case of chicken (and after Amos nearly beats him to death for trying to shake them down). The videos showing Mei's abductors taking her into and old, unused corridor just before the attacks started.

On the way to the abandoned corridor they encounter fake MCRN resistance (Pinkwater security), but Holden agrees to get them off Ganymede if they join forces, and they agree. They breach the corridor and find a lab; inside they find the body of Prax's brother's son, who has apparently been infected with the protomolecule. In the next room over they encounter a room full of armed people having a pizza party; Holden tries to be politic, but Prax goes off half-cocked about his daughter and cocks his gun, causing a firefight to immediately break out. Holden's squad is much quicker and manage to shoot everyone first.

They encounter more resistance the farther into the complex they go, and many of the Pinkwater people are killed; it seems the unknown players were evacuating through a secret docking port, while simultaneously fighting against an unknown third party. In the lab equipment wreckage they find fine, black filaments... Holden freaks the fuck out and calls for immediate retreat.

Just outside their ship, they're captured by a UN security force (sent by Avasarala), but manage to escape; however, Ganymede is then attacked by nukes and/or gauss rounds. They try to backtrack to the secret landing pad but find it blocked from all the damage, and are forced to go outside the dome in the vacuum of space. Alex comes in hot in the Roci and they manage to escape (after avoiding torpedoes fired from seemingly all the ships in orbit).

Avasarala's boss, Sadavir Errinwright (UN Undersecretary of Executive Administration) puts her on the Venus project and gives her a blank check--she quickly realizes this is merely politicking to get her off the Mars conflict, presumably by Adm. Nguyen, since he somehow got even more ships to send to Ganymede.

Avasarala hires Bobbie to help her look into Venus (since Bobbie's seen the monsters firsthand and Avasarala wants to work with Mars, not against them), and hands over all her intel. An hour before the fighting on Ganymede, the warship Arboghast around Venus was blown up--stripped apart in layers and disassembled, like the protomolecule wanted to learn how ships work.

On the Roci, they find that during their escape, a monster pulled open the cargo bay door with its bare hands and has been stowing away in there, in the vacuum, for days. Holden and Amos try to attack it, but attacks them; it flings a mag-locked pallet at Holden and traps him there. They shoot it a few times and it goes back to hibernating. Prax notices that the protomolecule seems to be constrained to its host, instead of reallocating its bits around like on Eros, and that it's feeding off a radiation leak in the corner. Prax goes EVA and throws some radioactive bait past the monster; it follows out after the bait, but leaves a bomb in the cargo bay. Alex does a full burn with the Roci, killing the monster; however, this causes the bomb in the cargo bay to go off, sending the ship into a spin and killing the reactor and thrusters.

Bobbie notices Avasarala's assistant, Soren, taking a datachip somewhere he shouldn't be going, so she follows him to a bar. He gives the data to someone militaristic looking, clearly disguised as a civilian. Soren tries to cover his ass by telling Avasarala that Bobbie is actually a Martian Intelligence operative, but she instantly realizes he's lying and that he must've been the one leaking/withholding info for Nguyen. She further deduces that Errinwright must be responsible for the monster(s) on Ganymede, working with Mao-Kwikowski to weaponize the protomolecule. She calls to question Errinwright, and he knows that she knows--so he tells her she'll soon be flying to Ganymede on a Mao-Kwik yacht. She has no choice but to acquiesce, otherwise she'll lose her political power. She tells Bobbie she's the only one she can trust and tells her she's coming along.

Bobbie and Avasarala get on Mao's yacht, the Guanshiyin. Mao is supposed to be going along too, but he leaves and Avasarala realizes she's fucked.

The Roci arrives at Tycho. Naomi, who has been fed up with Holden acting like Detective Miller (i.e. shoot first, ask questions later), breaks up with him and quits. Holden demands Fred to tell him if he was involved with Ganymede; Fred fires him for his constant insubordination and tells him "no" on the way out. Surprisingly, Holden feels like a weight has been lifted off his chest now that he's free to take whatever jobs he wants.

Prax tries to raise money to search for Mei but can't afford to hire anyone; Amos is taken aback and assures him they're already going to do it. Holden broadcast a message about Mei, Dr. Strickland, and the protomolecule, and within hours they get hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations. Holden apologizes to Naomi and she's back on board--but they're still broken up. Prax gets a message from a former colleague of Strickland who says "Strickland" is merely an alias of a Dr. Carlos Merrian. He formerly worked at CMTU biosciences lab, on biological development constraint systems, but quit over ethics violations and went to work for Protogen.

Prax puts 2 and 2 together and believes that Strickland abducted Mei because of her compromised immune system, since it wouldn't fight back against the protomolecule, the way the previous monsters have; they've been engineered with a bomb as a failsafe, so if they get out of control they can be destroyed--however, the protomolecule eventually adapts and ejects the bomb.

They realize that there must have been 2 monsters on Ganymede: the one they accidentally let out when they stormed the lab, and another that was presumably let loose just to see what would happen. Prax reasons that the monsters must have been shipped in from somewhere close, otherwise they would've adapted and ejected their bombs. He follows the money trail and concludes they must be on Jupiter's moon Io.

Prax starts getting death threats instead of donations; his wife Nicola put out a broadcast saying that Prax beat her and abused Mei. Avasarala sees the message and knows that Errinwright paid her off in order to stop Holden since he's getting too close to the truth. She gets more intel about Venus,
and her consultant thinks that the spikes look like neurons firing, meaning it it can think. Admiral Souther contacts her and says Nguyen sent 6 destroyers after Holden; she wants to send a message out to warn him, but Mao's crew won't let her. Bobbie puts on her mechanized combat armor (snuck onto the ship in a crate labelled "formal wear") and fights her way to the bridge. The captain says "I just work here" and surrenders, but the yacht is too slow to make it to Holden in time. Luckily, the Razorback racing pinnace is on board.

Holden gathers the crew together to figure out who they are and what they want to do in the future. They take a vote and decide to keep him the captain; Holden says they're going to incorporate, and each of them will own part of the Roci. Naomi is glad to see the old Holden back and takes him back to "their" bunk.

Avasarala tells Holden to meet her, and comes aboard; she explains the dire situation they're in. They throw together a fake news video saying she's there on behalf of the UN to meet with Holden and a Mars representative (Bobbie) as a multilateral investigation of Ganymede. She also decries Prax's wife as mentally ill, exploited by the media--then they broadcast the message. She shows the Roci crew Bobbie's suit video, which confirms Prax's hypothesis about the protomolecule ejecting its failsafe. She shows them the Venus data and Prax further realizes that Venus is communicating with the monsters in real time--it knows what they know and vice versa.

Avasarala puts all this info into a video and sends it to Errinwright; however, instead of pulling back, he sends the warships toward them even faster. Avasarala sends the info to Admirals Souther and Leniki, who she trusts. Bobbie suggests they make a plea to the Martians for backup; Avasarala tells them she's being attacked by a rogue element of the UN Navy while on a peacekeeping mission to Jupiter, and to fucking help her.

The Martian cruiser fires torpedoes first, and when the UN ships turn to fire at Martians, Bobbie fires the torpedoes that take out the first UN ship--turning the tide of battle in their favor. Some torpedoes were fired at the Roci, but PDCs took them out; however, 3 stray PDC shots go through Prax's quarters and need repaired. The MCRN ships resupply them, and Holden gets Bobbie an armcannon for her suit with incendiary rounds.

Avasarala tells the Secretary-General Esteban Sorrento-Gillis what the situation is; he condemns Nguyen's actions and forms an investigative committee. She believes Errinwright is finished. Bobbie watches her armcam video over and over; she determines that the monster's failsafe might kick in when it receives too much damage, and that it's only good at attacking straight on.

Admiral Souther joins his fleet with the Martian and they head to Io. Nguyen has dozens of ships in orbit, making this the largest fleet action in history. From aboard the UNN Agatha King, Nguyen threatens to send protomolecule weapons at Mars; Mars threatens to glass the moon in return. The secretary-general recalls Nguyen to earth and all shit hits the fan; Nguyen shoots hundreds of protomolecule monsters from the surface of Io, launched at Mars, then tries to fastburn out of there. The monsters cut thrust and Nguyen shuts off their transponders, so they can't even be tracked. One of the monster makes it onto the King, and Nguyen immediately surrenders--but Avasarala says there's no way in hell anyone is going on that ship. Even though he's a dead man walking, Nguyen refuses to turn the transponders back on, so no one knows how many monsters made it past the fleet to Mars. Holden sends Bobbie, Amos, and Prax down to Io; he's going over to the King to turn transponders on.

The monster breached the reactor on the King, so Holden has to wear a radiation suit instead of proper armor. He takes the Razorback to King and is attacked by a soldier hiding in a storage locker; luckily, he thinks Holden's an admiral (Holden got the admiral codes from Souther to override the door) and helps him get to the CIC. The infected are all congregated in the galley, and they're all the new version of the vomit zombies with the glowing blue eyes. They run through and just barely make it up the elevator to the CIC, where they find Nguyen still alive. He still won't give up the transponder codes, so Holden shoots him in the throat, mid-sentence. He find the ships's self destruct button, but there's no timer; the kid agrees to press it, since his suit was ripped running from the zombies, and he's as good as dead anyway (from the radiation). Holden leaves out an airlock and Larson blows the ship.

Io is tectonically unstable and highly radioactive. Amos and Prax go into the base while Bobbie stays outside to fight one of the monsters. Her incendiary rounds stop it from healing itself, but don't take it out. She runs away at 90 degree angles, and her theory about the monsters not being good at corners is correct. The monster can't catch her, so it starts tearing up big chunks of rocks and throwing them at her. She continues to dodge and shoot, but instead of the bomb going off and destroying it, it rips it off and throws it at her. It goes off near her feet, sending her flying and greatly damaging her suit. The monster sidles up and pukes on her, but seems curious about why she's not becoming infected. A tube comes out of its midsection and sprays goo all over her, probing her suit for entry points. Fortunately, Bobbie's gun comes back online and she blows its head off.

Prax and Amos find Strickland and the mystery woman in the lab, who turns out to be his handler. She tries to convince Strickland to flee with her, but he sees the writing on the wall and shoots her. Amos and Prax confront him and he says he was the one who kept the children safe, that they would've been infected without him, but they call him out on being a sociopath and Amos blows him apart with his auto shotgun. After a heartfelt reunion with Mei, they get her and the other kids back to the Roci, and Bobbie too.

Errinwright is "retired" and Avasarala gets his job as Undersecretary of Executive Administration. She tells Bobbie that anything she wants to do, Avasarala will make it happen. Holden tells his family to come to Luna and meet Naomi; turns out they're racist against Belters but they'll come anyway. Holden and Avasarala both meet with Jules-Pierre Mao and tell him off; she tells him he's going to be locked up and forced to watch her disassemble everything he's built--the ultimate punishment for a man like him. She puts Prax in charge of rebuilding Ganymede, much to his pleasure.

Fred Johnson, in a demonstration of his nuclear capabilities, nukes the protomolecule missle monsters when they get near Tycho station. This causes Venus to violently react by shooting black filaments thousands of kilometers long, bigger than Ceres Station or Ganymede, off of the surface and into space--swatting starships out of the way like gnats.

Detective Miller, covered in blue specks, appears to Holden and says "we gotta talk."

Review: 4 stars.

Caliban's war was a good read, very fast paced, but there wasn't much new plot-wise to differentiate it from Leviathan Wakes. In fact, it feels much smaller in scope than LW did, which is a step back, IMO.

As far as the new characters go, I really enjoyed Avasarala and all the politicking she introduced (it's kind of a shame her potty-mouth didn't make it to the TV show). Bobbie was a pretty cool character, but didn't really make a huge impression on me. Prax was fairly one-note, though he served well as the comic relief at times, bumbling things up one second, then piecing together complex scenarios in an instant with everyone scrambling to keep up. Still, he was kind of annoying, always going on and on about his damn daughter. I definitely missed having Miller around, and was really hoping he'd be back; it's a shame he didn't show up until the very end, but it was still a pretty exciting twist.

I was glad to get more of Amos's backstory: he was a prostitute's baby for guys that like to bang pregnant chicks; he escaped after he was "used up" as a whore himself. It explains a lot about him. I wish we'd learned more about Naomi though. And she and Holden breaking up and getting back together again over the course of a few chapters felt pretty rushed to boot.

As far as the ending goes, I felt it was pretty anticlimactic; the crew goes to the secret base, they find the doctor and the mystery woman (who wasn't really important at all), they shoot them and take the kids back--the end. I was much more interested in what was going to happen with Venus and Miller in the next book than what happened at the end of this book, TBH.

Still, it was a solid read and I definitely recommend it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,107 reviews