Review of ‘Caliban’s War’ by James S.A. Corey
‘Caliban’s War’ is book two in ‘The Expanse Series’ which started off with ‘Leviathan Wakes.’ I think this series should win an award for the most awesome titles because they all seem to have some sort of cool mythic/biblical bend to them that seems to give them weight even before you crack the cover.
And onto cracking the cover.
‘Caliban’s War’ is told in the third person from the POV of James Holden, the golden boy of space (now noticeably a little darker in demeanor), and one of the two POV’s from ‘Leviathan Wakes.’ Along with Holden are three new POV characters.
Chrisjen Avasarala: a well-connected U.N. politician who’s adept at seeing through the bullshit in her job and in real life and getting to the meat of whatever situation happens to be arising. She also swears like the mother of all sailors.
Bobbie Draper: a powersuit-wearing Martian space marine right out of Warhammer 40K, stationed on Ganymede, the breadbasket of the outer planets.
Praxidike Meng: a botanist whose daughter goes missing during an attack on his station on Ganymede.
Ganymede, as I said, is the breadbasket of the outer planets which makes it the most important moon/place/thing in the solar system barring Earth or Mars. It feeds everyone, but neither Earth, Mars, nor the OPA outright owns Ganymede, so everyone has a presence there.
And everyone that has a presence also has a security apparatus in the form of Martian Space Marines for Mars. Earth Space Marines for Earth. And some sort of troll-like monstrosity capable of tearing power-suited marines of any nationality into pieces and bashing them around like the Hulk bashes Loki. (This is exactly what happens in chapter 1; I won’t spoil beyond). It’s unclear at first who or what the troll-monster represents other than chaos and multinational brutality.
End result? Dead marines on two sides. Political turmoil. Mars thinks Earth Marines have attacked them with a new weapon and the vice of versa is also true. The Ganymede stations are attacked and mass panic ensues. International relations slide into the ‘not so good’ category, and it’s up to Avasarala to step in and have the brains to suss it all out and the guts to act on it. She possesses both in spades.
I’ll leave it at that. I don’t want to spoil any more for you or drone out a book report to you.
I love the future setting and the three way-politics fracturing any hope of peace in the solar system. I love the corruption of political officials and amoral scientists and mega-rich sociopathic douche bags. I love the evolution of the alien protomolecule as it morphs and does who-the-hell-knows-what on Venus?
And I even love the space battles. You have to understand, for me, space battles are like car chases in movies. For the most part, they’re a big yawn for me. ‘Star Wars.’ Give me more Hoth, Jedis and Jabba. ‘Star Trek.’ Give me more Vulcan logics and Jean Luc Picard challenging Moriarty on the holodeck. ‘Babylon Five’ battles are a notch above, I’ll admit, but still not my favorite part of the excellent series. But ‘The Expanse’ makes them interesting. You get a feel that the battles are tactical. Ships run out of ammunition. You get a feel for the hardware. The ordinance. For other words I don’t understand but like the sound of.
So, I dug ‘Caliban’s War.’ It’s not my favorite series, and not even my favorite book in that series, but it’s enjoyable, with cool characters and interplay(See: Amos and Prax) and moves along at a rocket pace. The POV changes keep things fresh. I never feel stagnant and am looking forward to grabbing the next installment. It’s great to have series of eight or nine massive books to look forward to.
Author central page amazon.com/author/wrightkev