Over the course of eight books, The Expanse has felt a bit like a type of movies that zooms out from Earth into the bigger universe. A part of the enchantment of Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s Struggle was that they have been an area opera set in our native neighborhood, coping with points which might be related to the world we now stay in: warfare, racism, justice, all accompanied by energy armored-marines, spaceship battles, and a menacing alien risk.
However because the collection progressed, authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (collectively referred to as James S.A. Corey) have, properly, expanded their scope to extra cosmic points. Abaddon’s Gate opened up the cosmos to humanity by means of an alien, ring-gate system; Cibola Burn launched us to a brand-new planet; 2017’s Persepolis Rising kicked off the endgame for the collection; and the most recent and penultimate installment of the collection, Tiamat’s Wrath, rockets us nearer to what guarantees to be a tumultuous finish for the crew of the Rocinante as they face challenges from outdated enemies and new threats.
Some spoilers forward for the novel and components of the collection.
Persepolis Rising jumped the story of The Expanse three many years ahead. Humanity had largely put apart some divisive points and begun colonizing the galaxy by way of a system of ring gates. That progress was placed on pause when a rogue faction of Martian separatists reemerged from their self-imposed exile on their colonial world Laconia. They’d spent that 30 years rapidly advancing with the assistance of an alien substance referred to as the protomolecule — the remaining little bit of know-how left behind by a long-dead alien species that kicked off the occasions of the collection. Laconia’s chief, Winston Duarte, was made immortal by a few of these advances. And he had some lofty targets for humanity: he proclaimed himself to be the Excessive Consul of the Laconian Empire, promptly took management of our dwelling photo voltaic system, and established a brand new regime to supervise the colonized programs. The crew of the Rocinante and their allies have been left scattered, uncertain about how you can overtake this new, seemingly insurmountable risk.
Tiamat’s Wrath picks up that story and runs with it. Captain James Holden has been captured and imprisoned on Laconia, Naomi Nagata is hiding in transport containers making an attempt to coordinate a resistance, former Martian Marine Bobbie Draper and pilot Alex Kamal are plotting strikes in opposition to Laconian forces, and mechanic Amos Burton is lacking in motion. Like the opposite installments of The Expanse, the guide jumps from perspective to perspective. It delivers the varied viewpoints of the crew as they work to withstand the Laconians, but it surely additionally follows members of the Empire — like Elvi Okoye (final seen in Cibola Burn), who’s enterprise essential science missions for Duarte, and the emperor’s daughter Teresa, who’s rising up and studying how the Empire runs. With the top of the collection quick approaching, the stakes are getting raised, and Corey makes it clear that no one is secure: a few fan-favorite characters meet their finish, one within the very first line of the novel.
A working theme all through your entire Expanse collection has been how individuals cope with applied sciences which might be far past their understanding, and as Duarte has labored to develop humanity right into a galaxy-spanning civilization, a significant supply of concern is the final word destiny of the gate-builders. That they had seeded the galaxy with their know-how, solely to be mysteriously worn out by an unknown presence, which made itself identified on the finish of Persepolis Rising.
Duarte dispatched Elvi on a scientific mission to raised perceive what they’re up in opposition to, exploring fantastically unusual photo voltaic programs. They make some awe-inspiring discoveries: a star-sized diamond in a single system may be an information storage artifact, whereas one other system incorporates a white dwarf, simply getting ready to collapsing right into a black gap. Elvi discovers that her mission isn’t simply exploration and discovery; Duarte needs to go toe to toe with that mysterious presence, to see if it may be reasoned or negotiated with. Duarte explains a model of the situation to his daughter, Teresa: the prisoner’s dilemma, the place the 2 events’ targets will finally line up if given sufficient tries.
However these historical, mysterious aliens aren’t the one risk to the Laconian Empire. Naomi, Bobbie, and Alex participate in a resistance motion in opposition to their forces. It’s an enormous problem: the Laconians are technologically superior, with ships that wield superior and horrible harmful energy, and which can also heal themselves after battle. They’ve an iron-clad grip over the hundreds of worlds held by humanity, and whereas Duarte leaves the impression that his rule is a benevolent one, the fact is way extra merciless. His forces are set to crush any dissenters whereas controlling the circulation of data, and he’s prepared to sacrifice complete programs within the title of his experiments.
Corey’s collection has at all times touched on the state of the worlds, offering a form of commentary for a way humanity can get by way of troubled occasions by cooperating throughout political and racial traces, and Tiamat’s Wrath is not any exception. The guide is a strong argument for the necessity for individuals to behave in opposition to tyranny and oppression in any manner potential, standing up for what’s morally proper.
One passage caught out for me as I used to be studying: an trade between Naomi and one other crew member named Emma, who sums up the issue of Laconia’s top-down strategy: people merely don’t work properly with massively oppressive constructions governing them.
“Simple to make programs with an ideal logic and rigor. All it’s worthwhile to do is pass over the mercy, yeah? Then whenever you put individuals into it they usually get chewed to nothing, it’s the particular person’s fault. Not the principles. Every little thing we try this’s price shit, we’ve finished with individuals. …. Laconians making the identical mistake as ever. Our guidelines are good, they usually’d work completely if it have been solely a distinct species.”
A dominant theme of the collection has been the bounds of humanity, and that line of reasoning is on show right here. Individuals have a tough time residing within the depths of area or on planets that aren’t Earth; now we have hassle with comprehending the huge distances of area, and the capabilities of the beings that created the huge artifacts scattered on lifeless worlds; and when somebody tries to vary themselves into, say, an immortal god-emperor for all of humanity, one thing very important is misplaced. It invitations critical threats to humanity as a complete — whether or not that’s tribal divisions from issues like racism and warfare, or an historical, unknowable alien risk that doesn’t like how we’ve been poking it with explosives… and decides to hit again.