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The Expanse #6

Babylon's Ashes

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The sixth book in the New York Times bestselling Expanse series.


A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy - a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships - has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

532 pages, Hardcover

First published December 6, 2016

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Profile Image for Petrik.
664 reviews41.2k followers
September 8, 2021
3.5/5 stars

A good sequel that feels like a long wrap-up to Nemesis Games.

Babylon’s Ashes is the sixth book in The Expanse series. The story picked up immediately from where Nemesis Games ended, and that’s pretty much what this book is about. Babylon’s Ashes is a long-wrap up to Nemesis Games, and I did feel that almost half of the content in this book could’ve been cut out and put into Nemesis Games instead. I get it, it’s difficult to write a follow-up to Nemesis Games, that book was insane space-opera with actions, stakes, and characterizations at an all-time high for the series. However, for a series that’s now six books long, I must say that the story hasn’t progressed as much as I thought it would. This isn’t me complaining that Babylon’s Ashes wasn’t necessary, but I won’t lie, the pacing of the first half of this novel was painfully slow; the reason behind this is the number of new and random POV characters that I’m forced to read.

“I thought if you told people facts, they'd draw their conclusions, and because the facts were true, the conclusions mostly would be too. But we don't run on facts. We run on stories about things. About people.”

I’ve said it before, I don’t like the choices Corey took to keep on including new POV characters within each book instead of just following the already established and solid main characters. This is one of the things that has magnificently been fixed in the TV series. And to be fair, most of the new characters outside of the crew of Rocinante that Corey has included throughout the series so far has been great or at least tolerable. But in here, there were so many random side characters POV who didn’t seem to bring anything to the story except to slow down the pacing immensely. I love the crew of Rocinante; if I’m given a choice to do one significant change to the narrative decision in the series, it would be to rewrite the entire series and tell them solely from the crew of Rocinante’s perspectives. Seriously, Holden, Naomi, Amos, Alex, Bobbie, and especially Avasarala were by far the best characters of the series. Now, these favorite characters of mine did play a lot of parts here, and after the extra boost to characterizations done for them in Nemesis Games, their role and appearances only seem to get better and better.

“You use a welding rig to weld things. You use a gun to shoot things. You use a Bobbie Draper to fuck a bunch of bad guys permanently up.”

Their chemistry and relationship between each other in the face of danger and appreciating every small moment of peace were easy to empathize with. Now, does this mean that ALL the new characters were boring? Not really, just the one that appeared only once or twice as POV characters. Filip and Michio Pa as POV characters, though, were engaging and interesting; I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed their chapters in the second half of the book. I’ll have to give Corey a point on that one.

“History, Michio believed, was a long series of surprises that seemed inevitable in retrospect.”

Overall, I have a bit of a mixed opinion on Babylon’s Ashes. I would summarize my review on Babylon’s Ashes by concluding that the first half of this novel was a snooze fest, the second half was brilliant. It definitely felt like it could’ve been shortened or maybe even include on Nemesis Games, which would make Nemesis Games even more amazing. The conclusion of the conflict was a bit anti-climactic, but I highly enjoyed reading the last closing chapters. It seemed to me that Babylon’s Ashes has wrapped everything up, if no one told me there was a sequel coming, I would’ve believed this to be the end of the series; not a satisfying one, but it could work.

All things said, and I’m not sure I’m mistaken on this or not, but I’ve heard from several people that there’s a huge time skip coming in Persepolis Rising. If that’s true, I’m excited about it; a time skip could be what the series really needs now. As for the villains? I have no idea who or what they’re going to fight next. Probably a return or resurrection of an old enemy or something; that’s usually how it goes.

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Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
November 15, 2018
Re-Read 11/14/18:
I am still loving the series and I still love this book in particular.

Civil War. Gotta love and hate it. Love it if we're not living IN IT. But overall... what a nightmare. Especially after what happened to the Earth. This is basically the end of the Solar System. Any kind of future we will have will be ELSEWHERE. :) As we soon see.

Otherwise, I think I said everything else I wanted to say in my previous review. :)

Original Review:

Reading this series is always like coming home to a really wonderful and wonderfully fucked up family. You know, the kind that always seems to sink right into the heart of the whole solar-system's problems and even manages to be held responsible for its civil war.

Some might even go so far as to indirectly link these guys to the tragedy that befell Earth. I know I would. But I'm kinda hard on my family.

Seriously, these books are great, but I think this one was a huge step in a great direction that I've been half-expecting since the very first in the series. James Holden is a real character. He keeps opening his mouth. And one of these days, someone's going to hold to him.

President Holden. Jeeeeezzzuuuuuuusssssss.

And then there were the deaths. The big one was surprising and sad. I always liked him.

The plot was pretty fantastic and full of action and who doesn't love BOBBIE in the hot seat? Wowie! And even a certain transhuman working closely with the crew. It's like a who's who of my favorite characters all working through dire hells. So nice.

This book clears up so much of the craziness that blew up in the previous one. That setup was amazing, but this one equally so. I can't believe just how crazy the solar system had gotten. :)

If any of you haven't picked these books up yet, then I'm just plain sorry for you. :) These are the gold-standard for system-wide (and now galactic) space-opera. :) It's all so close enough to us that we can taste it. :) Still great stuff.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
763 reviews3,497 followers
April 7, 2020
The largest fleet will win, quantity has a quality all its own, and who has the right to say who and what is evil and good?

The series already played with many philosophical and moral issues by reflecting true historic events in new settings, but with this part, a new dimension of playing ethics seminar is coming.

If the mightier ones in fiction (Mars, Earth, protomolecule, parts of the OPA, Lovecraftian godlike aliens) are already looking back at a history of exploiting weaker groups by indirectly killing many of them with weapons of economic war and oppression, don´t they have the right to rebel, to start a civil war against other fractions of humanity, to fight for the same rights the others see as theirs alone? If the only option left for the population is organized crime and rebellion, the bigoted elites of the old power blocs are the ones who are forcing them, just as an unfair economic and political system is today forcing many people to fight wars or become criminal. Not because they are bad, but because the dysfunctional system leaves them the only option to do evil things to survive. Is Marco a bad guy, who can say?

Belters could be a symbol and metaphor for so many real fighters against injustice and nobody would say that the oppressors should be friendly plead to give a piece of the cake, please. The problem is that it tends to escalate quickly, the vendetta revenge circle explodes, nobody is willing to step back and stay calm and the old power interests work against peace.

And where is the difference between organized crime, black market, rebels, darknet… and governments, companies, military, internet,..? The concepts are always similar, it´s just a question of the force who has the right to define who is who, the rest are market forces and the biggest fish with the best connections to legislation, government and jurisdiction wins the game. Take colonies that became superpowers and were called deviants before.

It´s one of the key elements of much Sci-Fi and world history, that the wealthy elite owning the war industry, markets, and governments has no interest in peace, prosperity, and equality because they are all bad for the business. While the whole population and even some politicians will be protesting for peace, they will keep the war and propaganda machinery running as long as possible. Even if their fraction, planet, Earth, Mars, would be destroyed, it doesn´t matter, they are prepared for every possibility and money doesn´t just know no state, it also knows no planet. Long before the plundering hordes of the winning forces will devastate the lands, they will already sit at the table of the victorious party, manipulating them to start to the next short, easy war, willing to let them fall, ultimate opportunistic war profiteers that they are.

This could even go into another Sci-Fi trope direction, that conglomerates and companies stay friendly and modest, colonizing in a fair and democratic style, trading with all others with the resources of their planets, while secretly gearing up, optionally in cooperation with other arms industries or building one up themselves, investing anything in kill tech, waiting for decades and centuries and suddenly flying around the corner, presenting their superior military force to dictate new terms. Before it might be favorable to stay pacifistic, invest in lobbying for peace and disarmament, leading the galactic union into an allegedly united future. And then smash them all. Could be a public-private partnership conglomerate syndicate monopoly too and why not led by political or religious extremists and a dictatorship and with superior superweapons.

It´s close to impossible that rebels or other fractions will have the money and equipment to become a driving force, but a multi planetary conglomerate of the arms industry will.

It´s commendable how this part has been prepared to be bombastic by directing the plot in this direction during the last parts and that it slowed down in Nemesis game to prepare for Babylon´s ashes and while the first four parts were separate entities with the metaplot meandering trough them, the fifth and sixth part could have come as one, big novel too, with the first half character-focused and the total escalation following in this one. And, quite kind as with GRR Martin or Peter F Hamilton, it´s now really complicated with all the characters, not just 4 POVs, but many different character perspectives, and that´s what thousands of pages long epic super space opera masterpieces are made for.

I am so looking forward to how it will go on, now that many narrative threads are finished, people died (sad), the power balance has changed, and much ballast is thrown overboard to accelerate towards the final. A glimpse at the unknown aliens that destroyed the protomolecule civilization shows that it will be awesome.

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 Kevin Kelsey.
400 reviews2,179 followers
April 4, 2020
Posted at Heradas Review

Let me start by saying, if you’re 6 books into an ongoing series like this, then I’m going to assume you’re in it for the long haul, and I think you’ll enjoy the hell out of this one too.

James S.A. Corey (Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham) refer to their Expanse series as 3 duologies and a trilogy (forthcoming books 7, 8, and 9) to cap it all off. Leviathan Wakes/Caliban’s War tell a fairly contained story about the protomolecule in the style of noir and political thriller respectively. Abaddon’s Gate/Cibola Burn deal with the expansion out into deeper space as a ghost story/western, but Nemesis Games/Babylon’s Ashes really read like two halves of the same larger novel. They are much more deeply intertwined than any of the other sets in the series. If each novel is a different genre married into the science fiction backdrop, then I’d call Nemesis Games a survival tale, and Babylon’s Ashes a great russian tragedy a la Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy.

Gone is the simple narrative structure of the first five books, each -- excluding Leviathan Wakes -- with four alternating POV characters. Instead we’ve got nineteen unique points of view. But if you’ve made it this far, you’re ready for that kind of complexity, you’re already intimately familiar with most of these characters. Holden, Pa, and Filip are the main ones, but we get lots of tertiary views on the action and plot. I really love this change to the structure, and can’t help but think that The Expanse television series influenced it in some way. It does feel more like the way that a TV show handles narrative. We get a perspective from nearly every main and secondary character still living, and some new ones as well. This opens up the world even more, something that this series has done so well along the way.

The main story involves the aftermath of the events of Nemesis Games, and how those events affect everyone, both inside and outside of the Sol system from here on. The Free Navy is causing havoc all over the place and has essentially taken over several large belter settlements. Holden and crew are caught in the middle, working with Avasarala and Fred, trying to do what they can to clean things up and bring Marcos down. Meanwhile, a splintered remnant of the MCRN is working in the shadows, silently preparing for what’s to come. And don’t forget the even larger threat looming on the periphery: whatever killed the protomolecule makers.

It’s a sad story, ultimately a tragedy, but there are several threads woven throughout that are paving a path to redemption for some, and death and destruction for others. It all makes for a terrific story, and moves at a breakneck pace toward a very tight conclusion. One that comes together so smoothly in fact, that a lot of people have been confused, thinking this was the end of the entire series. Of course, that isn’t the case, but I think you could approach this as the penultimate end to some of the earlier narratives begun all the way back in the first novel. Call it a semicolon; the conclusion of the series to follow.
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,743 followers
July 12, 2020
“My life has become a single on-going revelation that I haven’t been cynical enough.”

This is the kind of cheery thought one is apt to have when facing a narcissistic megalomaniac who has gained power by convincing some people that all their problems can be blamed on other groups while setting humanity on a self-destructive path it may not be able to recover from.

Geez, I thought I read science-fiction to escape reality.

The Expanse series took an epic dark turn in the last one, and this book is mainly about dealing with the fall-out from that as well as trying to resolve the new threat that arose. The short term stakes involve a fight to control the outposts outside of Earth and Mars, but the longer view will determine nothing less than the fate of humanity itself.

Like the other books this has a self-contained story that features all kinds of political intrigue and strategy as well as a healthy dose of interesting characters riding around in spaceships being all Pew-Pew!. Which is what The Expanse does really well as a general rule. The new wrinkle here is that because this is the aftermath of catastrophic events that there’s a tone of shock and even a certain wistfulness in this one. Things will never be what they once where and everyone knows it. This makes the conflict here literally a fight for the future, and all the characters are under enormous amounts of pressure because of it.

There was one element I wasn’t entirely happy about. On the other hand there’s still story to be told so I’m trying to set aside any feelings of mild disappointment I have about the ending here because it’s likely that there is more pay-off coming.

As always after finishing one of these I’m left wanting more and am already counting the days until the next book releases. It helps that we’ve got the second season of the TV show coming to fill the gap between books.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,529 reviews789 followers
February 20, 2022
The, what appears to be the final outcome of our first contact with functional alien technology, is humankind being put on the brink, after the most marginalised of the three human 'worlds' struck out against the rest with what appeared to be a deadly blow in Nemesis Games. The decimated Governments would love to strike back but they are all running immense damage control measures... that is until the crew of the Rocinante and their allies and non-allies get invited to the table!

What ensues is a blow by blow account from multiple (at least 10!) points of view, detailing what I believe is the best ever space/war opera ever written! Holden, Naomi, Amos etc. once again find themselves in the thick of things, but this time with nearly all the allies/friends they had gained in the previous books. This is a true testament to future reality storytelling with every single detail of space and future living and technologies so well though out; and then to top it off what the impact would be of human's accessing alien tech; but that's not all - then just to add the cherry on top we have multi-faceted characterisations of over 30 key characters; a genuine sense of jeopardy throughout; a tense and compelling war; learning and character growth for the major cast members; and much more! The beauty of it, is how it all comes together; how it strikes perfect continuity with the previous volumes; and most of all, how I was not only fully invested, but how I was totally immersed into this future reality. 10 out of 12... that's right he 6th book in a series is the best so far... this is such a great series!

The series 'writer' James S.A. Corey is the pen name of a combination of two writers, fantasy writer Daniel Abraham and George R.R. Martin's assistant Ty Franck; and I would dare suggest that it is the collaboration of two creators that has made this the phenomenal piece of work that it is?

2022 read
Profile Image for Derkanus.
79 reviews78 followers
February 20, 2017
Summary: On Earth, Nono collects food from a government food truck to take home to pastor Anna and their daughter Nami. Anna's leg has been badly wounded, but she wants to start having congregations at their house anyway. She tells Nono that she heard on the radio that the Free Navy tried to drop another rock on Earth, but the UN Navy caught it in time.

Michio Pa (OPA, former XO of the Behemoth) is in control of seizing ships at Medina Station (formerly the Behemoth, formerly the Mormon ship). The OPA outfits the station with rail guns (which should have enough force to move the station, but the physics dampening of the "slow zone" prevents this from happening). Marco Inaros asks her to come and meet with him and the other top brass of the Free Navy.

Filip is quite depressed that his mother Naomi killed herself and Cyn. He finds out that he's the only one on the ship that didn't know that she survived and secretly rages.

Holden and his crew undergo intense interrogations on Luna. Avasarala asks them to check out the ship that seems to be coordinating the rock drops on Earth--with Bobbie in command. Holden acquiesces.

Michio meets with Dawes, some other Belter bigwigs, and Marco Inaro on his ship the Pella. While Marco spouts off his accomplishments, Pa questions to herself just how successful his plans really were, since Earth is still fending off attacks, Fred Johnson is still alive, etc. He says phase 3 is about to begin: he wants a system-wide Belter civilization, with spin stations, power plants, factories, etc.

The Roci crew intercepts the Azure Dragon and puts a rail through it. Thinking they rendered the ship inoperable, they dock with it--but the OPA ship locks their airlocks together, with Bobbie stuck inside, then they begin attacking the Roci's hull using using EVA mech suits. Amos and Clarissa go out to try and stop them, but in the process Peaches is shot multiple times. Just as she thinks she's about to die, Holden makes it out and provides backup. They get Clarissa back to the medbay just in time to save her, and afterwards Holden starts treating her like an actual member of the crew.

During a bar altercation on Ceres Station, Filip Inaros shoots a security guard and lands himself in jail. Dawes tells Marco that he has to take his son off of Ceres and that he can never set foot there again, otherwise he will be tried and executed for the crime. Marco smiles deeply and promises him that Filip won't be on Ceres again.

The Roci goes to Luna for repairs. Holden meets with Avasarala and she's brought all 8 of his parents to Luna as refugees as a "thank you" for all that Holden has done.

Back in her personal quarters, Avasarala records another message to her husband Arjun, who still has not been found, before heading to her numerous meetings. She meets with Martian Prime Minister Smith about the gate-eaten ships; he expects to be voted out of the position in short order and says he can't give her any data on them, but she offers him asylum if he does. Afterwards, she meets with her top advisors. Admiral Souther tells her that logs on the Azure Dragon indicate Marco Inaros having a meeting with the top OPA on Ceres presently; Avasarala decides to take the offensive and launch an attack.

Michio feels guilty that her late girlfriend Sam (former Roci engineer) was killed by Captain Ashford on the Behemoth, all because Pa had too stubbornly adhered to the chain of command, in spite of the warning signs. Later, she meets with Marco who says he's heard news that the UN is redeploying to Ceres. Instead of staying to fight, he wants to employ Afghani guerrilla tactics and flee the base, leaving the Belter civilians behind. Micho gathers her marriage partners on her ship, the Connaught, and tells them how guilty she feels that she's stuck following the chain of command again when she knows it's wrong.

On Luna, the Roci is being repaired with experimental hull plating created with technology derived from studies on the protomolecule; the crew are unsure of how it will hold up, but Holden tells them to embrace the future. The Roci will be an observation ship carrying Fred Johnson in the Earth/Mars/OPA counter attack on the Free Navy. Holden says goodbye to his parents.

On Ganymede, Prax has been going about his life as normally as possible, as the people there declared that they don't care who runs things as long as their research can continue. One of the researchers under him wants to skip animal testing on a yeast GMO to help grow food faster for Earth, but he won't allow it. Later, in the middle of the night, station security gets him out of bed and takes him to the morgue to identify the researcher's body; she was shot 4 times. Prax believes the Free Navy killed her because she was trying to help Earth.

Filip has been confined to the Pella by Marco, and having shot the security guard while in a drunken stupor is weighing on him--and so is his impending punishment from Marco. Eventually the crew come back and they all leave Ceres behind; only about 1.5 million can get off before Earth/Mars get there, leaving 6 million behind as refugees. Marco finally pops in to see Filip late one night, but never even mentions the shooting.

Mars and Earth make an announcement that they've taken Ceres and are now helping the 4 million refugees left behind. After carefully planning out her mutiny offline using a grease crayon on the walls of her quarters, Michio contacts Carmondy, the captain of the Hornblower under her command, and tells him the new plans. He doesn't want to be included in the mutiny, and she tells him she's going to have to destroy his ship to make an example of him if he won't fall in line.

Alex is gets drunk in a bar on Ceres, shocked that the Free Navy abandoned it and is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Alex and Sandra Ip exchange googly eyes; Holden, ruminating about his dad's racism towards Belters, decides he needs to do something, so he begins recording little puff pieces about Belters that he sends to his reporter friend Monica Stewart; she broadcasts the videos to humanize the Belters. Fred Johnson wants Bobbie to be the new Mars ambassador, since the Martian government is in turmoil.

Marco receives Pa's video message saying she's defecting and he retreats inward. Rosenfeld Guoliang, part of the inner circle, gets anxious that Marco hasn't issued any orders to the fleet in response, and says he's going to start giving them himself soon. Marco eventually responds by ordering the destruction of the Witch of Endor, a ship following Pa. When Michio finds out the Endor was destroyed, she decides that the best course of action for still getting the necessary supplies to the Belters in need is to ask Fred Johnson (who she still vehemently hates) to protect her ships.

Naomi tells Bobbie that she can be a permanent part of the crew if she wants to be; Bobbie isn't sure about it since she's just been made Mars Junior Ambassador. They meet with Fred to discuss Pa's defection, and Fred wants none of it until Bobbie tears him a new one: the OPA isn't lining up behind him, afraid of joining a coalition with the inner planets. Holden tells Fred he's contacting Pa and Fred can get off the Roci if he doesn't like it.

At Medina Station, the first ship built on the other side of the rings, the Proteus, has arrived, with Captain Montemayor commanding. Rumors are that Marco asked Winston Duarte (defected Martian military commander that got Marco many of his ships) to send the ship, but the Proteus says it's just there to help.

The Roci leaves Ceres without Fred and his crew and rendezvous with Pa. Marco has destroyed another ship, the Munroe, that was under her command. Pa agrees to transfer control of the Minksy over to him--and Ceres launches missiles. The Roci shoots them down just in the nick of time; if Pa's ship would've fired, all hell would've broken loose. Holden insists that Fred didn't fire the missiles, Free Navy agents did, and Pa still agrees to the transfer. She gets the hell out of there. Marco puts out a video message telling the Belters she's a traitor working with the UN/Mars.

Prax is starting to feel the oppression of the Free Navy. When his subordinates ask for the data on their recently deceased colleague's partition, Prax puts it out there for them, unencrypted. Later, after everyone leaves, he logs in as a guest and sends the results to Earth and Luna.

Fred asks Holden to take him to Tycho station for an OPA meet-up. Avasarala chastises Fred for working with Pa, calling him and Pa pirates, but after he tells her about all the resources he'll be sending because of the collaboration, she says she guesses they're all pirates now.

When the Roci leaves Ceres for Tycho, Marco attacks; 3 of his ships against the Roci. Fred calls Ceres for help and one of the ships breaks off to intercept; Bobbie uses some fancy maneuvering to take out the second ship with the Roci's railgun. The Pella, however, gets wise to her tactics and dodges the rails every time--but Bobbie notices it dodges the same way every time, so she shoots some PDC rounds and missiles in the dodge path, then fires the railgun. The Pella dodges straight into the PDC rounds and is forced to retreat. Bobbie fires missiles; Holden, video-conferencing with Marco, sees Filip and, realizing he can't bring himself to kill Naomi's son, disarms the missile right as it's about to hit.

During the battle, the high-G evasive maneuvers cause Fred Johnson to have a stroke and die. Holden sends Avasarala a video message explaining what happened and she has a mini-breakdown. She eventually pulls herself back together and replies to Holden that he needs to make the OPA meeting work in Fred's place.

On the Pella, Filip is gutted when he finds out Marco blames their defeat on his gunning.

Michio Pa finds out from Sanjriani that since she diverged from Marco's original plan, there are barely enough supplies to last the Belt, Earth, and Mars 3-3.5 years.

14-15 ships from the other side of the rings, coordinated by Duarte through someone at Medina Station, come back through the gates and attack the station--though they're all destroyed by the newly mounted rail guns. From intercepted data, it appears that not all the ships made it through, however.

Holden meets with the OPA heads and tells them he wants to take over for Fred and enact his plan (even though Fred never actually told Holden his plan). Anderson Dawes, newly defected from Inaros' inner circle, shows up to the meeting uninvited and Holden, wanting to appear strong in front of them, tells him he can't be in the meeting since he wasn't formally invited. Dawes later convinces the others to give Holden a shot, even though they all seem reluctant.

When going over the post-battle logs, Amos notices that Holden disarmed the torpedoes. He confronts Holden about it and asks him if he's really the best man for the job; Holden says "no", but that he was given the job and will follow through next time. Amos says that's a good enough answer for him.

The Pella goes to Callisto for repairs (where Filip stole the Martian stealth coating and dropped the first rocks) and Filip is really starting to feel the weight of everything he's done. He's about to confess to Karal when the newsfeed announces that he killed Fred Johnson during their battle. Marco gives him a look that says "we did it," and Filip realizes that when something good happens Marco will always take credit, but anything bad is Filip's fault. Filip can't stop thinking about what Naomi told him about Marco putting blood on her hands too.

While Holden works with the OPA leaders, Alex continues hooking up with Sandra Ip, even staying in her quarters. It comes as no surprise when Holden tells him later that they'll be shipping out in a few hours.

Avasarala meets with the Martian military leader to discuss taking Medina Station: she wants to send the Rocinante and the ice hauler Giambattista, packed with 4,000 smaller ships--most of them decoys--to take out the station's railguns.

The Coalition Army launches their first major offensive against the Free Navy against all of the Navy's bases--the largest attack in history, involving hundreds of ships--mostly just to draw Marco's attention away while the Roci and the Giambattisa try to reach the gate.

The Free Navy and Pinkwater security finally come for Prax, having discovered that his putting Karvonide's data on an unencrypted partition was how it got leaked to Earth. Certain he's going to die, he confesses that it was his fault for putting it out there; luckily for him, that's when the attack begins, and they let him go.

Pa takes the Connaught and 2 other ships to attack Pallas base. She systematically removes the station's defenses, points one of her ship's drive cones at the dock, and tells the station that if any Free Navy ships try to attack, she'll slag the whole dock. She tells Rosenfeld (in command at the base) that this is his chance to fix his fuck up of following Marco, and he agrees.

Marco defends against an attack by al-Dujaili (a former member of the inner circle whose brother died because of Marco), destroying al-Dujaili's ship and a few others, while suffering only minor casualties to his own fleet. Sanjriani again warns him that the fighting is going to make it nearly impossible for the Belt to subsist, but Marco shrugs it off. Later, Marco calls a meeting with all his head people and declares he wants to take Tycho, the jewel of the Belt, in a counterattack. Everyone nods their heads except Flip, who finally has the balls to confronts his dad and asks why his entire inner circle has abandoned him if this is what he planned all along? Marco tousels his hair, treating Filip like he's just a stupid kid acting up, and Filip storms out. Marco's advisors inform him that the Roci isn't actually on Tycho and is instead transporting an ice hauler headed for the ring gate; Marco starts to panic.

The 2 Free Navy ships coming from Ganymede to head off the Roci launch their attack, but the Roci and the Giambattisa both take minimal damage. The thousands of small ships deploy from the ice hauler start entering the gate. The station's railguns and other defenses take out most of the thousands of attacking ships, but don't realize that the ships that appear to be "malfunctioning" were actually intentionally drifting toward the ring station where the railguns are mounted.

Bobbie, Amos, and her Belter squad land their shoddy cargo container/shuttle on the surface of the alien station, where they meet stiff resistance. Unable to attack the railgun's defenders head on, Bobbie takes the shuttle back up and uses it to dive-bomb the railgun she thinks might house the main reactor, then she launches the rocket from her Martian armor suit at the enemy attackers. The station turns an angry green color and seems to shrink, shrugging off the metal bands holding the railguns on and effectively rendering them inoperable. Bobbie and Amos capture or kill the defenders and find that they're not Free Navy but Duarte's Martians.

The Roci and the Giambattisa make it through the gate and destroy their 2 pursuers. Captain Samuels of the Free Navy on Medina surrenders peacefully.

When Marco finds out that the Roci is the only ship guarding Medina, he rallies all the ships he can find, about 15 in total, to intercept, telling Filip that his plan is finally coming to fruition. Filip has finally had enough of his dad's flip-flopping bullshit and instead of returning to the Pella, he recycles his hand terminal and his gun and goes to find work somewhere else under the surname "Nagata."

During the battle for Titan, Pa was badly burned and 2 of her spouses killed when the Connaught was hit by a torpedo. Avasarala send Pa a message saying that Marco has sent his ships to Medina and wants Pa's help saving it; Michio tells her that she's sorry, but she's got no ships left to send.

Naomi reads through the station's logs and finally notices a pattern in the 2 dozen ships that disappeared going through the gates; she thinks if they load up enough mass on the Giambattisa and send it through the gate fast enough, they can create the energy wake that will swallow up Marco's fleet when he comes through--as long as he comes through within a window of about 10 minutes after sending the Giambattista through.

As Marco's fleet nears, the Giambattisa enters the gate and just as Naomi predicted, Marco's entire fleet blinks out of existence as they come through the gate; Marco senses a dark shape coming for him in the space between atoms.

6 months later, the war is all but over. Mars is still pissed about Winston Duarte's defection (he provided Marco ships so Marco would leave him alone in the Laconia gate). Everyone else from Marco's inner circle--Rosenfeld, Dawes, Sanjriani--are captured or dead. Avasarala holds a meeting with all the important representatives of Earth, Mars (new Prime Minister Emily Richards presiding), and the Belt where they outline their new plan for what Holden subs the "space guild", the new role the Belters will play in trafficking ships and resources back and forth through the gates. Avasarala nominates Holden as the new leader, but he immediately declines and nominates a true Belter, someone with the principles and skills required, Michio Pa.

Pastor Anna, Nammi, and Nono are on a ship called the Abbey heading to a colony called Eudoxia.

Review: 4 stars. Like all the other Expanse books, I really enjoyed this one (it took me a while to get motivated to actually read it, but once I did, I read most of the book in a weekend); however, I knocked off a star because, honestly, I can't believe we still haven't learned a god damn thing about the aliens making the ships disappear (other than Naomi discovering the pattern that summons them and using it to kill Marco). I kept waiting and waiting for something alien-y to finally come out of the damn gates--at the halfway point, then when Duarte sent his ships through, when the Roci goes through with the Giambattista, hell, even up to the final line of the epilogue!--and was pretty let down that the plot didn't progress on that front AT ALL.

It also felt kind of cheap that the whole Free Navy was wiped out in the blink of an eye--which I would've been fine with if we would've ended on a cliffhanger where a bunch of aliens came out of the gate afterwards--but instead, the whole solar system rallies together and seems to be working towards unity harmoniously. All I can hope is that Marco's death/assimilation/whatever the hell is happening to the disappearing people will mean something more down the line.

Other than those couple gripes though, another great entry in the Expanse series. I'm sad that Fred died so ingloriously, but such is war. It's always great spending time with the Roci crew, and it was even nice to hear from Prax and Anna again. It's definitely still my favorite series right now.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lori.
308 reviews100 followers
February 3, 2018
Profile Image for Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller.
720 reviews1,172 followers
February 6, 2017
[3.5 stars] Babylon’s Ashes is what I’m calling the “stepping stone” novel of the series. Its purpose was to wrap up fallout from the events that happened in the amazingness that was Nemesis Games and set up for what’s to come in Persepolis Rising (which doesn’t have a release date yet, but I’m wagering sometime around December 2017). Because it felt more like a transition novel, I didn’t rate it quite as highly as others in the series. Comparatively, especially coming off of Nemesis Games (possibly my favorite of the series), Babylon’s Ashes had nothing particularly earth-shattering about it. There was definite plot progression, and a few poignant moments, but overall it was a little underwhelming. I also had a difficult time focusing at the beginning until the story really got going, which is unusual.

To clarify – I think Babylon’s Ashes was an important chapter in the saga but it didn’t bring as much action and excitement as its predecessors. What it did bring was lots of good character interactions and, as exciting as the plot can get, it’s these well developed, relatable characters who keep me coming back for more. My favorite character has always been Avasarala (a snarky politician who always says what she thinks – whom incidentally, I was thrilled to see introduced earlier in the TV series), but there are many great ones to choose from. Any one of them could rank as my favorite depending on the day.

So, overall, compared to most books, Babylon’s Ashes was a knockout. Compared to The Expanse series as a whole, it was a little tame. I still love the series though – reading a new Expanse novel feels like coming home. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Other books you might like:
Foreigner – C.J. Cherryh
Grimspace – Ann Aguirre
Trading in Danger – Elizabeth Moon
Beholder's Eye – Julie E. Czerneda
Old Man's War – John Scalzi

Via The Obsessive Bookseller at www.NikiHawkes.com
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
March 31, 2021
Babylon's Ashes (Expanse, #6), James S.A. Corey

Babylon's Ashes is a science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and the sixth book in their The Expanse series.

Following the events of Nemesis Games, the so-called Free Navy, made up of Belters using stolen military ships, has been growing ever bolder.

After the crippling attacks on Earth and the Martian Navy, the Free Navy turns its attention to the colony ships headed for the ring gates and the worlds beyond.

The relatively defenseless ships are left to fend for themselves, as neither Earth nor Mars are powerful enough to protect them.

James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are called upon once again by what remains of the UN and Martian governments to go to Medina Station, now in the hands of the Free Navy, in the ring station.

On the other side of the rings an alien threat is growing; the Free Navy may be the least of humanity's problems.

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دهم ماه مارس سال 2018میلادی

عنوان: کتاب ششم سری گستره، خاکسترهای بابل؛ نویسنده: جیمز اس.آ کوری؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 21م

کتابهای این سری: «بیداری لویاتان»؛ «نبرد کالیبان»؛ «دروازه آبادون»؛ «بازی نمسیس»؛ «خاکسترهای بابل»؛ «درخشش پرسپولیس»؛ «خشم تیامات»؛ و «سقوط لویاتان»؛ هستند

به دنبال رویدادهای «بازی نمسیس» از کتاب پنجم سری «گستره (د اکسپنس)» است، داستانهای سری «گستره»، روایتهایی از آینده‌ ی انسان در فضا را روایت می‌کنند، و در هر کدام، بر یکی از چشم‌اندازهای پیش روی انسان، در توسعه فضایی تمرکز دارند؛ نویسندگان این کتابها با هوشمندی، تا جایی که توان داشتند، و روایت داستانها اجازه می‌داد، اصول علمی را رعایت کرده اند، و در مواردی که ناچار به مطرح کردن فناوری‌های پیچیده، برای پیشبرد داستان خود بودند، کوشش کردند در مرزهای فیزیک باقی بمانند، و از ورود به جزئیات عملکرد آن فناوری‌ها خودداری کنند

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/01/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,005 reviews2,597 followers
December 13, 2016
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2016/12/13/...

The Expanse has become one of my favorite series in recent years, and it is no exaggeration to say that it has only gotten better with every new book. Of course, the one problem with this pattern is that it works much like gravity—what goes up must come down, after all. And yet, I say this doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, I’d argue that after a major plot event, it’s important to dial things back a bit in order to let your characters regroup, refocus, and rebuild (not to mention give time for the reader to digest the latest bombshell) and this is exactly the way I would describe the circumstances surrounding Babylon’s Ashes.

This sixth installment of the series is the immediate follow-up to Nemesis Games, directly addressing the events that happened in that book, so I would strongly recommend catching up before reading this review or others to avoid possible spoilers. If you’ve read the last novel though, then you’ll know that a new villain has come onto the scene in the form of the Free Navy, a violent group of rebels fighting in the name of Belters (a term that describes people born in or beyond the Asteroid Belt, a generally exploited and oppressed working class). Their leader, the charismatic Marco Inaros has just orchestrated the biggest, most devastating attack on Earth, killing millions. In the aftermath, he’s sowing even more chaos by setting his ragtag fleet on the vulnerable colony ships traveling through the ring gates to the new worlds on the other side.

It’s basically a nightmare scenario for Earth and its allies, who are still trying to help survivors and prevent more from dying due to the complete breakdown of infrastructure and governance. In their desperation, they reach out to James Holden, a man who in the past has been as much help to them as a hindrance, but the times are dire and they need all the support they can get. Captain Holden and the crew of the fast-attack ship Rocinante have a good track record of completing many dangerous missions and then surviving to tell the tale, so now they are being assigned one more: to break through to Medina Station at the entrance of the gate network and prevent it from falling to the forces of the Free Navy.

So how do you follow up a book like Nemesis Games, which is probably my favorite novel of the Expanse series so far? Well, I knew it was going to be tough. That’s why I wasn’t surprised when Babylon’s Ashes took a step back from the action, using this installment as an opportunity to take a breather, looking at where everything is and where everyone stands. That’s not to say Babylon’s Ashes wasn’t a great book, because it was. However, its focus and pacing were also decidedly less intense and immediate. The first half was heavily dominated by system politics and character relationships.

Babylon’s Ashes also broke away from the usual tradition of following a set number of POVs (usually four, I believe), branching out instead to cover a greater number of character perspectives, many of whom we’ve seen before in the previous installments. There were pros and cons to this. From a positive standpoint, this opened up the book to greater possibilities. We got to see the solar system through many more pairs of eyes, getting a fuller sense of the political climate and state of affairs in the wake of the Earth attack. In addition, favorite characters like Chrisjen Avasarala, Clarissa Mao, and Bobbie Draper get a chance to chime in now and then with their own chapters. However, as a counterbalance to this, the greater number of POVs also served to dilute the focus of the main situation and arguably made the first half of the book a less emotionally engaging experience.

In fact, it wasn’t until the halfway point where something finally happened to really shake me up. It was a good reminder that things in the Expanse universe are always in motion, always changing. Important people die, major worlds are decimated, and yet the characters must evolve and adapt to survive the new reality. There’s really nothing negative I have to say about this book, other than the fact that as a villain, Marco was kind of wasted. Having learned nothing from the last book, he falls into the same predictable pattern, and it’s always a little disappointing to see a bad guy who suffers repeatedly from the same fatal flaw.

It will be interesting to see where the events of Babylon’s Ashes will take us next. Another chapter in the ongoing saga of Jim Holden and the Rocinante has come to an end, and if there’s one truth I have learned from my experience with the last six books, it’s that anything can happen in The Expanse, anything at all, and that is why I love this series.
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews185 followers
January 18, 2018
Babylon’s Ashes has an unusual structure for an Expanse novel, even if you factor in the unusual structure of the previous novel, Nemesis Games. While Nemesis Games is built around a single event that occurs about halfway through, much of the first half is tied to the intriguing mystery that leads to it. There is also the added novelty of the POV chapters including all the members of the Roci, and the opportunity to snatch a glimpse of their inner lives as individuals, rather than simply understanding them from Holden’s (and others’) perspective. Babylon’s Ashes widens the scope even further; no fewer than 18 POV characters are given one or more chapters, from series mainstays (Bobbie, Avasarala, Fred Johnson) to one-off heroes from the previous novels to villains to characters that hung around the periphery of the series to all-new characters. Differing perspectives are central to the whole tapestry of The Expanse, but while it’s nice to catch up with Prax and Anna and get a closer look at some of the series’ tertiary characters, a huge chunk of the book is eaten up by jumping around from character to character and just relaying their experiences or getting their perspective on events rather than moving forward with any sort of plot.
Not that the authors Corey are just diddling about: an event as shattering as the one in Nemesis Games requires that appropriate attention be paid to its aftermath, especially the personal toll it exacts on everyone – Belter, Inner, Free Navy alike. The novel succeeds in this regard, often brilliantly, but can also be exhausting. By the time the action and tension pick up and some semblance of plot arrives beyond the OPA and the Inner planet authorities fishing around for the right response to the threat the Free Navy poses, we are nearly two-thirds of a patience-straining way through the novel’s length. That patience is rewarded – the climactic “desperate wing-and-a-prayer gambit” that has become a staple of the series is one of the most nerve-wracking and nail-biting that Abraham and Franck have devised.
At this point in the series, I could read about these people doing their laundry for two hours without losing interest, so any complaints are qualified by the goodwill the series has engendered. Babylon’s Ashes is my least favorite Expanse novel, yet still essential.
Profile Image for Mark Medina.
82 reviews25 followers
February 6, 2017
Stuck in the slow zone

I really liked all the books in this series up until now. Unfortunately, it has come to a grinding halt with this one. The things that made the series great are missing. Previously we had fast paced, almost breathless action. Frightening alien technology, and spooky detective Miller. Morally questionable leaders and political machinations worthy of game of thrones. Ethical dilemmas, mixed in with dramatic set piece battles and Bobbie in power armour beating the hell out of anything that moved. The tag line was 'interplanetary adventure as it was meant to be written', and it was. Now, we have Holden video recording girls playing with marbles, while singing a song. Oh dear. The plot of this book seems to be spread awfully thin, to try and make a whole book. These events could have been dealt with by extending book 5. The pacing is slow, and not the kind of slow made up for by wonderful dialogue, or sparkling relationships between characters. There isn't that much dialogue, and not much happens for large parts of the book. I found myself skipping parts to get to the end. The final battle was also a bit anticlimactic. Hopefully the authors are saving the good stuff for the next parts of the series.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,026 reviews2,807 followers
March 29, 2021
4.0 Stars - Video Review: https://youtu.be/IPqCis7dRh4

Babylon's Ashes picks up where Nemesis Games ends, providing much needed follow up to the unresolved issues from the previous book. One of the best aspects of this sequel in the scope of the storylines within this expanding universe. Unlike previous books in the series, the authors do not restrict the chapters to four primary character perspectives. Instead, this new novel includes a rotating cast of characters to show the widening scope of the epic storylines. These perspectives include the return of many favourite characters from all the previous books. Even the newly perspectives added were primarily characters that were introduced in prior books. I appreciated this familiarity, which made it easier to become invested in the chapters of these newest characters.

If you are caught up on The Expanse series, I highly recommend you pick up this latest installment as soon as possible. Whether you read the books for the adventure, the politics, the mysteries or the characters (or all of the above), you will not be disappointed in this sequel. The writing from both authors continues to be strong with engaging dialog and plenty of action. As with the rest of the series, the world building in this book was very accessible. The reader is never bogged down with complex descriptions or technical jargon found in harder science fiction. As well, while primarily serious in nature, the authors include some great moments of humour and witty remarks to provide much needed comic relief to the suspense.

I requested this book from Orbit Books because I was dying to read what happens next in the Expanse series. As always, my reviews are unbiased and reflect my own personal, honest opinions.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,920 reviews156 followers
December 15, 2021
The Sixth volume of the Expanse series really amps up the action.

After the truly surprising and catastrophic events of Book 5, we see the so-called Free Navy, a loose confederation of pirates and terrorists with stolen Mars ships, revert to form and begin to terrorize not only Earth and Mars, but also the Belters they come into contact with. Their megalomaniacal leader, Marco Inaros, has a bold scheme that will leave him in charge of this part of space-as he plans on shutting down the passage through the gates.

The crew of the Roci, as well as the forces of the UN and Mars, as well as a few rogue elemnts of the Free Navy all come together in an audacious plan to fight back.

That's all I can say without getting spoilery. It is a great leap forwards in the story action. A very action oriented volume and it did have one shocking death of a main story character, which I did find interesting. But, find out for yourself.

A very entertaining read and one that has me already reaching for Book 7. If you are up to book 5 and wondering if you should get 6? Yes! There. That's all you need to know. For those that haven't read any of the Expanse. Guess what? This isn't the place to start. In fact, best stick with Book One. I know, sounds daunting. But it is well worth the time and effort.
Profile Image for Rob.
845 reviews532 followers
October 21, 2021
Executive Summary: This is the second book in a row I've given one of my rare 5-star ratings to, and the second year in a row that an Expanse book is my favorite read. If you haven't given this series a look yet, you really should!

Audiobook: Jefferson Mays once again does a great job. He reads with good inflection, volume and pace. He does a few voices for the characters, including an excellent job with Avasarala. This is definitely a series I plan to continue in audio so long as he's the narrator.

Full Review
I imagine that most Sci-Fi fans know the Expanse by now. The SyFy channel's adaptation earlier this year was fantastic. However I think this is one of those series that will have a broader appeal. It doesn't spend too much time focused on the science. Sure there is advanced technology, but it's used in a way as to be commonplace and not necessarily exceptional. This is Space Opera in the vein of Star Trek, Battlestar Galatica and Firefly.

At the core of this series is the conflicts between Earth, Mars and "The belt". Last year's Nemesis Games really ramped that conflict up to a whole new level making my expectations for this book incredibly high. This was my most anticipated book of the year, and I was really bummed when it got delayed. I'm happy to report that James S.A. Corey have once again delivered.

I've seen this series called a "trilogy of trilogies" which would make this the final book in the second trilogy. That seems like a good fit. Many of things set in motion by Cibola Burn and ramped up in Nemesis Games get resolved in this book, all while setting the stage for the next arc to come.

A quick glance at the table of contents may give you some pause. In the past the format has 2-5 PoV's with James Holden as the only recurring viewpoint. This book however has a whopping 19 PoV's (including the prologue/epilogue).

So has the Expanse gone full Game of Thrones? Not quite. I think this book tells a "bigger" story in terms of distance, and it's nice to have a boots on the ground view that doesn't introduce implausible reasons for a small number of characters to be everywhere. I thought it was well done.

Every chapter/PoV felt like a good addition to the story. Many of the PoV's are one-offs, and a few of them are only a handful of chapters, while Holden and two other characters (Pa and Filip) have a large number of chapters throughout. I'll be curious to see if they keep to this format in future books of if this one was a special exception. I typically prefer a smaller (~4) number of PoVs.

I often have a hard time deciding between a really good book (4-4.5 stars) and a really great book (5). I don't have a hard and fast criteria. The one sure fire sign is when I hate to put a book down and make excuses to read/listen longer each day. This book was definitely that. On the very first day I had to make time to squeeze in a few extra chapters because I hit a "no way I can stop here" moment.

The characters in this series are excellent. Avasarala continues to be my favorite, but I love the entire crew of the Rocinate, and Bobbie Draper nearly as much. The main antagonist in the book Marco Inaros can feel a bit 1 dimensional at times, but he still feels very real to me too. His motivations and actions make sense. He never feels like he's doing things simply for the sake of a good story. He's just a bit single minded.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, albeit slightly less than Nemesis Games. I'm really excited for Persepolis Rising (which will hopefully be out next year). In the meantime I can't wait to see Bobbie Draper on screen for the first time with Season 2 of the Expanse in February.
Profile Image for Books with Brittany.
646 reviews3,103 followers
June 12, 2021
3.75 ⭐️
If you love battle scenes / action this installment is for you! Too much for me. That was my only complaint. Not enough character stuff.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,875 reviews3,382 followers
November 16, 2018
This 6th volume in the series offers a much more scattered look at the solar system than the previous volumes. Which is to say, we get many more different POVs than usual. And for good reason. Because humanity is broken, fractured like a crystal vase that has been dropped to the hard floor.

Earth has not only been attacked but almost destroyed by the so-called Free Navy in the last book and the humans of Earth are still trying to come to terms with that. It is the only habitable planet in the system where plants and other food grow naturally after all.
Meanwhile, the terrorists (yes, that is what they are to me) keep slinging rocks at the planet and terrorizing the rest of Sol into submission. So much so that there are some waking up within their ranks and breaking away, only adding to the conflict.
Holden and his crew, as usual, are in the middle of things - especially Naomi since the terrorist leader is her former boyfriend and another prominent member is her son! They are trying to render aid whenever and wherever they can since what is left of Earth's Navy is desperate to keep more rocks from hitting the planet after billions are already dead.
Mars, too, is no help since they have a political struggle of their own (and are dependent on Earth's natural resources).
Then we get to see where Prax lives now and what "normal" OPA members (Belters) think about the conflict. Because, naturally, not all think it's good to kill so many even if the Belters have been oppressed and exploited for generations.
Some very relevant comments on today's issues for sure - with enough space (pun fully intended) to let every reader decide for themselves what their stance regarding certain issues is.

Thus, the authors provide us with a 360° view of the solar system, which I thought was very important. They also begin on Earth with a prologue from Anna's wife's point of view and close the circle by ending the book with Anna herself in the epilogue. Very well rounded off overall.

In the middle we get lots of stupid-ass politics. Such as terrorists actually being surprised and angry that Earthers aren't in the mood for sharing their dwindling supplies with the people who killed billions on their planet and sent the eco system into such a spin that they will run out of supplies in the first place.
Not to mention all the squabbling amongst the Belters themselves (different factions within the OPA). You should also see what they are usually fighting about - I was expecting someone to take out the measuring tape, I swear (some "great" lines about a woman's place, especially from Marko being the gems here).
It's discrimination and racism all around and whenever someone actually tries to help, the ones in need of help are outraged about supposedly being patronized. *bangs head against the wall*
Stupidity on a galactic scale.
And the very real realization that not all revolutions, even if justified, are good - especially if they are not thought through and are being led by egomaniac idiots who are not only willing to commit genocide but happy about it, too.

But this wouldn't be an Expanse book if there wasn't also a little space mystery - this time in form of disappearing ships. It's gotta have something to do with the rings, right?
I actually expected more of a reveal in one of Prax's chapters about that to be honest. However, that might have taken too much of the spotlight while the novel was supposed to be about what we're doing to our home and why we have to leave so I understand if we get the explanation only in the next book or even the one after that.

Old and new worlds, young and aging people; politicians, military personnel, civilians; ships and stations ... we get a little bit of everything in this one. It's almost chaotic. As chaotic as the times these people live in which was a great point made by the authors (yes, there was a system to it so it was clearly done on purpose).

It will come as no surprise that I HATED the Free Navy. Maybe Pa was better once she got away from Marco and the spell he had cast on her was broken but she was complicit in killing BILLIONS. No amount of rationalizing will change that. Which is why I also couldn't make excuses for Naomi's son Filip after a certain point. Boy, did I hate that little shit! He actually deserved being treated badly by his father. And man, was I looking forward to seeing Marco being humiliated and then dying a horribly painful death ... which is why I feel slightly cheated in a way. *lol*

What still amazes and delights me about this series is the balance the authors manage. While the events enthrall the reader and keep one on the edge of one's seat, it's a nice mix of actual action and political intrigue. Moreover, the tragedy of what is happening to our planetary system is alleviated slightly by how the core group (Alex, Amos, Bobbie, Naomi, Holden and now also Clarissa to some degree) treat one another. Not to mention some fantastic lines from Amos and Avasarala (still my favourite) that made me burst out laughing amidst all the horrific violence.

Nevertheless, I'm very sad about Earth and while I wanted us to explore all the worlds the rings have opened up to us, I didn't mean it like that! I guess I should have been careful what to wish for! *grumbles*
I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that our home planet will one day rise like phoenix from the ashes. But for now, I guess, it's goodbye (mostly) - I am curious about the upcoming time jump and the technological discoveries though.
Profile Image for Veronique.
1,219 reviews164 followers
March 10, 2019

“Do we have a plan?” “A couple,” Jim said. “Either of them good?” “Oh, no. Not at all. Just different flavors of terrible.”

As many have commented, this instalment felt like a straight continuation of the previous book. Nothing wrong with that mind you. On the contrary, I very much enjoyed it :O)

The authors bring back characters from all the previous novels in this narration, some only for a chapter or two, but all offering important points of view of the mess that is the Solar system: Earth is literally 'dying' and the consequent threat to the whole of humanity is growing at an alarming rate. All this due to the obtuseness and hunger for power of one man, and the blindness of many following him, believing they will make things better for themselves!!! Stupid and yet so human, sadly.

If some characters keep re-doing the same thing time and time again hoping for a different result (definition of madness), others do learn and move on. Holden, Pa, Filip, but I was particularly impressed by what Corey does with Clarissa Mao. I hated her in Abaddon's Gate and yet ended up warming up to her. Quite a feat! Avasarala was as brilliantly acidic as usual and Amos as 'adorable' as this quote clarifies - “Because he’s Amos. He’s like a pit bull. You know he could tear your throat out, but he’s loyal to a fault and you just want to hug him”. :O)

I do love this series and cannot wait for the next book.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,600 reviews1,667 followers
September 28, 2022
August 2022: I still think this is one of the best books in the series but in a more stealthy way than book five, which is a WHOPPER. The rest of the series is also more actiony and intense, but this one is more about showing the consequences of what's already happened, and laying hints for what's to come than it is about BIG moments. I really appreciate that the Corey duo can do both, and I think the series is better for it.

One of the things that has to be resolved before we can move on to the conflict in the final three books is the problem of Marco Inaros and the Free Navy, and the larger problem of the Belt and its inhabitants in this post-Earth world. I think all of that is handled very well, and I think the fact that the authors have SO many POV characters this time is to absolutely give us a widespread view of the expanse (heh) of the story and what's going on. This is the only book in the series with more than a handful of POV characters, and it's more than twenty.

I still have yet to watch the final season of The Expanse TV show, which adapts this book (and parts of the others?? I don't know) because I'm worried it won't be a satisfying ending to the series. This is an irrational fear, I think, because the book series could have stopped here with this one if the authors wanted and it would have been a satisfying ending, so why can't that work for the show, too?

On to Persepolis Rising. I am extremely interested to see how I feel about these last four books, because while I was reading them I was constantly getting the feeling that on re-read I would like them better.

January 2017:

“That’s the problem with things you can’t do twice,” Naomi said. “You can’t ever know how it would have gone if it had been the other way.”

“No. But you can say that if you don’t do something different it’ll happen again, and again, and again, over and over until something changes the game.”

“Like the protomolecule?”

“It didn’t change anything,” Holden said. “Here we are, still doing all the same things we did before. We’ve got a bigger battleground. Some of the sides have shifted around. But it’s all the same crap we’ve been doing since that first guy sharpened a rock.”

First, a warning. If you are looking for an objective review of this book, you can just go ahead and look elsewhere. My ability to be objective flew out the airlock last book and is now floating around out there cold and dead in space. Mayhaps eventually it shall encounter a black hole and spend the rest of eternity being crushed into nothingness. I am complete trash for this series.

Okay, but with that said, I also happen to think I’m right about it, and what I’m right about is that this series is awesome, and it just keeps getting better, and why aren’t you effing reading it. This is top-notch sci-fi, space opera. It has a believable hard science background, and yet the characters are the focus. So many delicious character arcs. So, so many.

It also manages to pull off being simultaneously epic and intimate. Solar-system and species-altering events occur, but they are always grounded in the characters, which of course makes them even more devastating.

“Politics is the art of the possible, Captain Pa. When you play at our level, grudges cost lives.”

This is also a series that, despite being on occasion terrifying and horrific, remains hopeful in tone. Just a bunch of flawed humans running around space, making a hash of things, and underneath that, a basic human decency, and a yearning to be better.

This book has the most POV characters of all the books so far, which was a smart choice. The scope of this story is much larger now, and we really need to be seeing the events from a lot of different perspectives. Holden is there, of course, and Corey manages to give him an arc, even this far into book six. And then we’ve also got POVs from Naomi, Amos, Alex, Bobbie (now a full member of the crew, yay!), Clarissa Mao (also now a crewmember), Avasarala (who breaks my heart), Michio Pa (the captain who can’t make up her mind which side she wants to work for), Fred Johnson, Anderson Dawes, Prax (haven’t seen him in a while), Naomi’s son (the little shit) Philip, Marko (the terrorist leader of the Free Navy), some random one-off chapters of people working on Medina Station, and the whole thing is bookended with a prologue and epilogue from our old friend Anna (the preacher from Abaddon’s Gate).

Listing them out like that, I’m realizing there are actually even more than I’d thought. I’m even more impressed now that the book juggled that many POVs, and did it well.

“Because Inaros and all the Free Navy people, they weren’t fighting for Belter rights or political recognition. They were fighting to have the past back, to have things be what they’ve always been.”

This book is great, hence my five star rating, but it is a bit slower (relatively speaking) than Nemesis Games. Really, though, I appreciate what Corey has done here. This is essentially a book about consequences and clean-up. You can’t just do what they did in book five and expect things to carry on as they were. In fact, I liked that things were slower. I liked seeing how each character (and group of people) reacted to the tragedy. I liked seeing how those reactions spiraled into action. I liked seeing our heroes fighting against the current.

I also found this book to be the most poignant and relevant to things I’ve been feeling in my own life lately. So many moments and quotes in here that hit like a gut punch, or where I found myself stopping the audiobook (and bookmarking) so I could just think to myself, yes yes yes yes yes somebody gets it.

“But she didn’t want the moment to end, either. Any of the moments with these people in this place. Even though eventually they had to. No, not even though. Because. Because eventually they had to. Nothing lasted forever. Not peace. Not war. Nothing.”

I can’t wait for Persepolis Rising. At least we’ve got season two of the show coming up on February 1st.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,112 reviews301 followers
July 20, 2021
Second Read-July 2021 *4.5 stars*

I ended up enjoying this book much more the second time through, and even more than the previous book, Nemesis Games.

I really appreciated all the different POV characters in this one, especially people like Michio Pa, whose character got combined with that of Drummer's for the TV show. But really, all the chapters were interesting, and I loved seeing the story unfold through so many different eyes.

Somehow I had totally forgotten the ending too! Anyways, an excellent installment.

First Read-December 2016 *3.5 stars*

This rating is probably a bit misleading. Babylon's Ashes is a very solid entry in the series, but compared to the previous 5 books, my level of actual enjoyment was somewhat less. This felt like a book that tied up the storylines and moved characters into place rather than having it's own central story. That said, everything is now set up nicely for a new story direction to take off in book 7, Persepolis Rising.

Regardless of my thoughts on this particular book, The Expanse is a very well written series and a great read that I definitely recommend.
Profile Image for Igor Ljubuncic.
Author 17 books236 followers
October 27, 2022

I knew it. This book confirms it. There's no difference between Martin, Abrams and Franck. They are one and the same.

Let's take a look at the Song of Ice and Fire first:

- First three books (four if you count the third being split into two) were fast, engaging.
- First three books are almost entirely self-contained; the action has a natural closure point.
- AFfC and ADoD are slow, badly edited slopwork of descriptions, lamenting, repeated use of words like blood orange three times within two paragraphs, random important characters all of a sudden making appearance after not being mentioned like EVER - Jon Conington is suddenly this Egg savior on page 5,444. Just average.

Now, The Expanse:

- First four books are fast, engaging - not too many characters, focus on the protomolecule.
- First four books come to a natural conclusion with Miller and Ilus.
- Fifth book suddenly takes a new narrative, but it's still reasonable, although the focus is on the human side of things and not on the alien worlds, where the whole claustrophobic panic and terror stem from, with extra politics, melancholy and still more secondary characters making this sudden big entrance - Marco Inaros is a great example, our space Jon Conington, who failed to be mentioned in the previous 5,444 pages.

And thus we reach Babylon's Ashes.

-70% of the book nothing happens.
- It's descriptions we never had before - office furniture, dresses, facial expressions, whatever, pointless detail that is exactly like the later books in the ASoIaF saga. This comes with weariness and fatigue and general sadness among the protagonists - the authors are exhausted and so are their characters.
- We have tons of new perspectives - book 1 had two, book 2 had three or four, book 3 and 4 had about four or five, book 5 has about six or seven, book 6 has a dozen, some with a single chapter, and this does not feel right because we never had anything from them before.
- The characters all do the same thing, either they play the Miller detective, this is the fourth time someone analyzes logs and tries to see patterns, or they play the leader with cardboard charisma. Holden was the fun righteous guy, and now he's a constipated turd playing politics and it feels forced.
- There's some lame action, space fight without any enthusiasm, any fear, any sense of the dark and forbidding vaccum, it's resolved in an offhand manner, but there's no real resolution, and no aliens, just a passing remark to keep us would-be interested. Book 5 also did not have a proper ending, and this one has an even less proper one.

This book is average in every way - the pace is slower than the previous installment. The action is protracted. Sloppy editing everywhere - non-standard words used and repeated sentence after sentence. Bad analogies - everything is now a biological/evolutionary cliche, and there's no difference between Marco, Filip, Holden or Naomi, or even Bobbie or Alex. Our four heroes are tired, and they hardly get the spotlight.

I also hate when authors inflate a side detail and make it into a major story - this ragtag offshoot of OPA is now the nemesis of the universe and they have dozens of ships. It would be like a group of hooligans stealing a nuclear aircraft carrier and having their girlfriends fly the planes.

Why do I care about Anderson Dewes - or Sanjani - or even Pa, when they barely were mentioned in the past books. Pa might at least get some mention, but then her behavior is completely different from how she was portrayed in book 3. But the rest of them? Random names. If the author at least bothered mentioned them in some way early on, it would make sense. This is just making sequels for the sake of it, like Star Wars trilogies. You know when the author is faking it, because it's not a natural part of the series. Abercrombie's First Law, same thing. At some point, it becomes boring, especially when you stretch tiny, irrelevant details into major plots. Contrived. Lame. Exhausting.

And so, it happened again. Martin and friends struggle with closures I guess. Making a proper ending. Winners know when to quit. They could have ended the series with book 4. Or continue to hype the alien threat, but I guess it's hard to maintain that level of energy and focus. However, releasing mediocre sequels is even worse.

Book 6 is just a page filler. I hate when this happens. It ruins the impression. The Expanse is one of the best series I've read in my entire life. It's one of the most engaging plots. No need to destroy that with a weak, half-arsed effort of a last book, or whatever Babylon's Ashes is.

There we are. And the big question is, will this ever be finished, or is there going to be an endless TV series with its own plot and ending ... just like ASoIaF. I'm so annoyed.

A song if you will (based on Johnny Cash's General Lee):

I'm angry, and that's how this book makes me feel,
When you're expecting solid action and Holden's at your heel,
I'm Ceres bound and when the chase is done,
We should take off through the rings and have fun fun fun.

I'm an author, who got lost in a useless dready plot,
With boring side characters, but the money's worth a lot,
If the protomolecule comes again there will be trouble,
My readers all know me as Martin's double.


Profile Image for Dean Ryan Martin.
200 reviews38 followers
April 4, 2022
"I thought if you told people about facts, they draw their conclusions, and because the facts were true, the conclusions mostly would be too. But we don't run on facts. We run on stories about things. About people (page 169)."


Yay: It preserves the pattern of consistency found on other books in the series. It is good. It is also quite a lot of fun. Nay: There are Spanish words I cannot understand. There are also long sentences that are filled with commas, which are hard to read.


Yay: New characters come. Old characters go. The new ones are adding a layer of depth to the story. Three or four are interesting enough, in a way that they become a brand of their own. They fuel this series with a new wave of anticipation. Nay: Not sure why I feel some new characters are unnecessary. Perhaps, their growth are either developed in the last three books or their roles are only limited to making this book longer than I expected.

PLOT: 4 stars!

Yay: There are 30 billion human beings in Planet Earth. The outer space is in bad shape too. Spaceships, warships and gunships are having territorial wars. Most have disappeared waiting to be found. The Rocinante crew returns, however. Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos need to figure out how to bring peace to which all things are uncertain.

Nay: It is a long read. Its intensity of excitement fluctuates a lot. Sometimes, it goes rough which drags me. When it goes up, it captures my full attention right away. There are also times that the story moves, dialogues are shared, but nothing special happens.
Profile Image for Mike.
478 reviews370 followers
December 24, 2016
While this is technically the sixth book in the excellent Expanse series I view it more like book 5.5 as it is the continuation of Nemesis Game. It has all the same cast of characters and immediately continues the story while all the other books in the series had a time jump between them as well as a unique plot line. This is by no means a knock to this book as the story it and Nemesis Game was trying to tell needs an expansive space (see what I did there) to do it justice.

First off this was a smashing, if conventional story. There was little mention of the famous proto-molecule, no ancient aliens, no significant action on the other side of the ring gates, and the action followed a pretty predicable, though still exciting, course. There were tons of different locales explored and we got to see more of the inner politics of the OPA which was a lot of fun. I was sad to lose a certain character but I think it was the right decision and certainly made the story that much more interesting.

This book and Nemesis Game departed somewhat from the message of the first four books. Those books had a strong anti-corporation message, putting forth the idea that the corporate incentive structure devalues human life and humanity in general for the pursuit of profits and power. These two books, however, look to the other side of that coin by showing the harm done by overly tribalistic views of humanity. In this case the terrorists from the belt that view Inners (humans from Earth and Mars) as evil oppressors that deserve no quarter and are not deserving of empathy. Not that this is exclusively a Belter short coming:
"I thought if you told people facts, they'd draw their own conclusions, and because the facts were true, the conclusions would be mostly true. But we don't run on facts. We run in stories about things. About people."
The stories we tell about Others is the difference between treating them as our fellow human and treating them as merely a problem to be exterminated. Sadly this is not just a sci-fi conjecture, but a blood stained indictment of humanity throughout its entire history.

Led by a charismatic (if obsessive) leader, the Free Navy claims to speak for the Belters even as they kill and intimidate Belters that they do not like. This Messianic Manichean worldview causes just as much harm (if not more) than the corporate greed in the first four books in pursuit of the leader's mad dream:
"How's it looking?"

"They did a number on us. I'm impressed."

"Always easier to break things than put them together."
No matter who does the breaking it is always well meaning, hard working people who have to clean up the mess and make things better.

Most of the book centers around the crew we have all come to know and love of the Rocinante, with a lot of past favorites coming back (Yay Bobbie!!! And Avasarala!!!). Even after five books Corey is still able to reveal new facets to these characters, as well as grow them in response to the challenges and tribulations they face. And the new characters we are introduced to feel just as real and authentic as our old friends while adding more nuance to the already fascinating world.

I had a lot of trouble putting this book down because of the excellent pacing and intriguing characters that punctuate every page. We got just enough closure to feel satisfied with this book while generating new plot lines to be excited about in the next installment. There is still a lot of work to do in the solar system to clean up the huge mess this book left and I am extremely excited to see how it will all play out!

Now on to a few of my favorite passages:

There is the Avasarala we all know and love: "The Rocinante isn't a part of the fleet, so losing it won't leave a hole in our defenses. And I understand you've got a few after-market add-ons-"

"Keel mounted rail gun," Alex said with a grin.

"-that scream of overcompensating for tiny, tiny penises, but might prove useful."

Self-justification is the easiest justification: "All of them do what they think is right, and tell themselves they're moral people with strength to do the necessary things, however terrible they seem at the time. Every atrocity that has been done to us had someone behind it who thought what they did was justified. And here I am. A moral person with the strength to do this. Because it is justified."

IT is like it is a whole different world: "I don't think anyone knows. My tactics teacher back in boot camp? Sergeant Kapoor. He was an entomologist-"

"Your sergeant in boot camp was an entomologist?"

"It's Mars. That isn't weird there."

Oh Holden, never change: If you're looking for mutual respect, you can start by asking before you invite people to my secret meetings... It seemed like a rude thing to say out loud.

"If you're looking for mutual respect, you can start by asking before you invite people to my secret meetings."

There is literally nothing better than Avasarala during leg day: "That's eleven. Go for twelve. One more."

"Fuck your mother."

"Come on. Just one more rep. I'll be here to help."

"You're an asshole and nobody loves you."

Avasarala's level of profanity is like the Wafflehouse Index of The Expanse: "You notice how she [Avasarala] didn't say anything obscene or offensive?"

"Did notice that."

"That can't be good."

If an unexamined life is not a life worth living, then thanks to many interrogations Holden as a super worthwhile life: There was something to be said for living a life that didn't involve lengthy interrogations. By that standard, at least, Holden had not lived his well.
Profile Image for Choko.
1,178 reviews2,569 followers
May 1, 2018
*** 4.25 ***

Nothing lasts forever...

"...“We’re not people,” he said. “We’re the stories that people tell each other about us. Belters are crazy terrorists. Earthers are lazy gluttons. Martians are cogs in a great big machine.” “Men are fighters,” Naomi said, and then, her voice growing bleak. “Women are nurturing and sweet and they stay home with the kids. It’s always been like that. We always react to the stories about people, not who they really are.” “And look where it got us,” Holden said.”..."

This volume of the Expanse saga is all about changing and moving on, even when it is catastrophic and painful... Thus, the tone of this book is more subdued, the pace is slower, and we get many points of view with a lot of contemplation, some of them honest and some deluded by the desire for things and motivations to be different from what they are...

"...“Humanity had come as far as it had in a haze of war, sickness, violence, and genocide. History was drenched in blood. But it also had cooperation and kindness, generosity, intermarriage. The one didn’t come without the other, and Holden had to take comfort in that. The sense that however terrible humanity’s failings were, there was still a little more in them worth admiring.”..."

The end of the previous book was shockingly painful and Earth has been deeply wounded and disfigured. The separation between the people from the old planets of Earth and Mars, and the belters of the stations around Jupiter is so significant, that the suffering of billions is a cause of celebration among the hereto neglected and forgotten citizens of the outer belt. Either side views the other as the enemy, loosing the representation of humanity in the eyes of its opponent...

Of course, we have the earnest Captain J. Holden to get on the job to fix or completely mess things up, which he has been known to do... It is kind of a gamble with him, since he tends to talk /act first and think later. Thank goodness Avasarala, the grandma with a potty mouth in charge of the UN, is there to keep him in line 😀!

"...“Do we have a plan?”
“A couple.” Jim said.
“Either of them good?”
“Oh, no. Not at all. Just different flavors of terrible.”..."

I loved this book, because after what happened to Earth, the characters and we the readers, needed to take the time and orient ourselves in the changed by necessity political and economic climate of our universe. Everyone is fighting for survival, while the more politically savvy are arranging the new power structure. A smart and contemplative what if...

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you Need in the pages of a Good Book!
Profile Image for Lee.
351 reviews188 followers
February 4, 2017
4 Stars!
Oh where to begin?!
Back into the world of The Expanse. It is great to be back reading about our erstwhile crew again and I was interested in seeing how this story developed given that the protomolucule part of the plot was stalled. For me, this is a solid 4 stars but no where near the 5 stars that I come to expect from the series. I can't help feel that some of the writing now is tailoring toward making the tv show easier to portray. I few decisions on team dynamics are interesting and maybe it is because the authors want to freshen up the crew that changes have been made, but a lot of the massive overall picture has been brought in into a pretty tight story now. Bobby on board, Peaches? wtf is going on with that storyline? Just a fill in character? Why is she still there. Fred Fucking Johnsons story? I don't know, it was neatly parceled up and delivered and didn't leave me wondering about anything. As I was reading, I was expecting a solid intro into what the next phase of the story would be and whilst the ending gave us a hint of that, it pretty much just put up a blank canvas and said 'not sure yet'. I still love the series and I can't wait for the next book or the next TV series to start, but I do think that it has lost it's edginess. Once again Avasarala stole the show. It is so sad that they used a 'nice personality brush' on her screen character. Her coarseness and ability to drop scathing one liners on people is what makes her so brilliant. In this book she is in her prime and long may she live.
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