I love starting a book I know I’m going to love. That warm anticipatory glow makes those first pages even better. This series (this is book four) never disappoints. I was talking to a fellow science fiction fan on a plane, and we were lamenting that with sci-fi, often you get great characters OR a great story, but rarely both. With the Expanse series, you get it all: people you want to spend more time with, original and gripping stories, and excellent writing.
In the previous book, humanity discovered a mysterious Ring/gate to an unknown section of the universe, full of livable planets and mineable minerals and who knows what else. True to form, everyone immediately begins arguing over who owns what. A corporation sends out a ship full of scientists to stake a claim and start cataloging everything, but when they get there, a colony of what they call “squatters” is already there, building a mining operation and learning to live with the new ecosystem. When the squatters try to sabotage the corporation’s landing pad, things go badly and a tense situation escalates very quickly. Our old friend Captain Holden and his crew of the Rocinante are sent in as mediators, since he’s known the universe over as transparent and fair to a fault.
There are sympathetic characters with good reasons for their actions on either side of the conflict, but we still get an absolute villain to root against. On a planet ridiculously far from any other civilization, they’re exposed and vulnerable to any little problem, which all quickly become huge problems. Holden and Amos have their hands full on the planet, while Naomi and Alex have equally life-threatening issues to deal with in orbit. There are new characters and old friends (Miller!), and it’s so good to see everybody again, I wouldn’t even care what the book was about. But the story is also tremendous.
Reading Holden again made me sad all over again at the disappointment of Show Holden, but I will still totally watch the next season of Expanse when (if?) it comes back.