Caliban’s War | Guest Post Book Review

Caliban’s War by James S.A. Corey

Publication Date: June 26th, 2012

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The second book in the NYT bestselling Expanse series, Caliban’s War shows a solar system on the brink of war, and the only hope of peace rests on James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante’s shoulders. Now a Prime Original series.

We are not alone.

On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggles to prevent interplanetary war from reigniting. And on Venus, an alien protomolecule has overrun the planet, wreaking massive, mysterious changes and threatening to spread out into the solar system.

In the vast wilderness of space, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been keeping the peace for the Outer Planets Alliance. When they agree to help a scientist search war-torn Ganymede for a missing child, the future of humanity rests on whether a single ship can prevent an alien invasion that may have already begun . . .

Caliban’s War is a breakneck science fiction adventure following the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

Manuel’s Review:

Caliban’s War is the second book in the Expanse Series by James S.A. Corey. The second installment continues the story with the aftermath of the traveling protomolecule on Venus. The UN, Mars, and Belters now all find themselves in awe and confusion over evidence of something interstellar and quite harrowing in its sheer power. We still primarily focus on Holden and his crew as they seek out a living under the OPA contracts given by the legendary Fred Johnson. We are introduced to a biologist who’s working on the moon Ganymede. When the moon becomes collateral damage in a skirmish between the UN and Mars, Praxidike Meng ends up losing his livelihood and his daughter, who ends up stolen.

Back on earth, Under-Secretary Chrisjen Avasarala, a head-strong, and expertly cunning diplomat wages her own political battle. She is not only trying to find out what is happening on Venus, but she’s also making moves in trying to find out who’s in the cabal that is undermining the relative peace. Then there’s Sergeant Roberta Draper, a Martian marine whom has a hard time following the recent orders to dismiss what she experienced on the battlefield. She lost her entire squad to a monster that attacked them. When she brought her story her Mars rank and file commanded her to not speak up about it, which of course had Bobbie opening up very vocal about it. Avasarala took a shine to her, and in her quasi-state of being discharged, she joins the Under-Secretary in her quest.

I loved this sequel so much. I was afraid that a follow up to Leviathan Wakes, the first book in the series would be a convoluted mess. It turns out I was oh so sorely mistaken. While the first part does indeed start out quite unclear as to the direction of the narrative, the second half is a rollercoaster ride that goes from 10-100 in under a chapter. Many times while I read at work or at home, I found myself going through 3 hours easily. There wasn’t much effort in getting down descriptions of the setting like the first book did. Though while the first book had better conversations, this book had a far more connective plot from perspective to perspective. 

The main characters really had a chance to shine and stretch their legs. From the compassion of Alex, the brashness of Amos, the ingenuity of Naomi, to the almost spiral out of control of Holden. Chrisjen’s foul-mouthed experience and Bobbie’s naive but militant outlook on events was super refreshing. While Praxidike’s logic and reasoning were very much the weakest points in the story, it did feel quite integral nonetheless. Perhaps it was more down to not feeling connected as someone who has children may latch onto him far more. I was super invested in Roberta Draper. She was my favorite part of everything.

I still love how much the two authors have managed to keep the crazy alien stuff just on the periphery, without losing the magnitude of its very existence. It’s the perfect balance of the major arc of the series and the minor arc that this book encompasses. Kudos to James S.A. Corey for that masterful level of craft. It did leave me with a cliffhanger that makes me yearn to read the next book, Abbadon’s Gate. Yet this book had so many treasure troves of quotable lines that I had to start to make a list for them all. 

I love this book for the sprinkled lines of gold, the concepts that it chews into, and the fact that it didn’t feel like I wanted to just rush through this just to get to the next book in the series. While I do highly recommend starting this series, I will need to go through more of the series in case it peters down to a whimper, or jumps the shark into non-focus. 

About the Author:

James S.A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. They both live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Find out more about this series and other works at www.danielabraham.com.

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