“Caliban’s War” by James S.A. Corey

Another solid 10/10 for “The Expanse”.
“Caliban’s War” is the second installment of “The Expanse” book series and it continues the events from “Leviathan Wakes” and I have to say the events from the first book continues with the same incredible pace and craziness making you incapable of putting it down before you finish it or to put this way “this one I’ve burned so fast that even an Epstein drive would have had some problems to keep up with me.” So the action is going totally crazy again, with new characters and especially and finally Chrisjen Avasarala and if you think the character from the TV show is a foul-mouthed badass grandma, I have to say that in the books she’s even more delightful and actually I think I might have learned a thing or two not to mention some very clear unorthodox images.
I think that Avasarala was a really needed character not only because she is a woman and really powerful woman (Naomi Nagata is nothing short of it and the same with Bobbie Draper, another tough and badass lady making her first appearance here) but to me, she is some James Holden both stripped by his qualities but enhanced at the same time because the way I see it, both Avasarala and Holden in long term want nothing but to have peace and to some degree, justice in the Sol system but while Holden is the Don Quixote and charging straight to the truth and to do what he thinks it needs to be done now, Avasarala while aiming to the same goal, at least in what concerns Earth, she is much more well-versed and manipulative not to mention able to see the entire picture at once. So while Holden is almost always a loose cannon ready to charge at his enemy now and here, Avasarala tends to be the master strategist from the shadows so she simultaneously takes some of Holden’s glory but in the same enhances him as the chivalrous knight he usually is. And to be fair, I can hardly think now of another female character as powerful as she is, both as a character and the impression which lasts at the end and the only one from the whole science-fiction which I think it might challenge the impression are the Bene Gesserit ladies of DUNE series and maybe, just maybe, the initial Caprica 6 from Battlestar Galactica followed by Starbucks. So Avasarala serves to add some needed equilibrium in the books between the good guys and the bad guys and the guys with their own agenda, like Fred Johnson which I can’t define as a good guy nor as a bad guy, just someone lurking in the shadows waiting for his own moment to arrive.
For the Rocinante’s gang nothing changed, the same characters with their old traits as in the first book but now we have some new characters also, like Praxidike Meng, the botanist from Ganymede who embarks on a solar system-wide search for his missing girl, not willing to accept for a second to give up on his quest to find her. While I do admire his determination in finding his little Mei Meng, somehow I am finding his character a little annoying (maybe a residue from the TV series when I was at the beginning like “wtf man, the whole Sol system is going nuts again and you really want or hope to find a little girl gone missing during a battle?”) but of course, both he and his little daughter are needed for the course of action. And also as a new character, Bobbie Draper, soon to be an ex-Martian marine, who reminds me of a… tank. Yeah, funny, but in the same way you don’t want to screw around a tank because it will get you killed quite quickly, the same with Bobbie: screw with her and you’ll regret really quick. I think that only Amos is more dangerous than Bobbie, but let’s not forget that Amos has his own rules and he will be more than happy to break your neck while making it look like some casual business and nothing else. Bobbie is a tough nut to break and she seems to be really independent in her thinking and even her actions despite that it might not be for her immediate best (sufficient to see her dismissal from Martian Marine) and she reminds me again of Amos, both being fiercely loyal to their friends and of what seems to be their idea of truth and honesty. And yes, Bobbie looks to me like a feminine version of Amos with less expected violence and less possible incipient craziness.

In my opinion, both Bobbie and Avasarala bring a new force to the book and the story and while you have to respect Bobbie, I am finding it impossible not to love Avasarala and her totally unique style.

And the plot and the action are indeed really good. And again that feeling of staying true to science and the laws of physics because, beside the protomolecule, everything else is obeying the universe as we know it now. For the rest, shoot out on Ganymede, Mars, and Earth at war, almost indestructible super soldiers enhanced by the protomolecule, chases and battles all around the Sol system, there is everything needed to make this book a very good solid book, easy to read, kinda hard to master in all its details and overall a very enjoyable adventure. Not to mention that cliffhanger: if in “Leviathans Wakes” a whole asteroid is going nuts because of the protomolecule, the idea of Venus giving birth to some really weird stuff in the end it’s even crazier. So, “Caliban’s War” indeed is a must read book from my point of view if you are into science-fiction 🙂

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