Reviewing a book in the middle of an ongoing series is difficult. If the reader is unfamiliar with the series, you don’t want to give too much away in case the series sounds interesting. However, how can you discuss even minor plot points and character development unless you talk at least a little about what’s currently happening and who is around to see it? All that to say, this review has some necessary minor spoilers of The Expanse series, but me saying, “The Grand Canyon is big!” is different than you experiencing it for yourself. Hopefully these mid-series reviews don’t ruin the series, but just whet your appetite for space opera adventure.
Book three again finds Holden and the rest crew of the Rocinante in the middle of spaceintrigue. Holden and his crew have earned plenty of enemies through the events of the first two books – many blame him for starting a civil war between humanity. Holden’s decisions catch up to him in a big way in this book. The family of someone greatly impacted by the events of the first two books hold Holden (haha) responsible for the loss of a family member. The family’s plan for revenge unfolds in ways that no one can anticipate, and all of humanity could be in grave danger as a result.
While the previous two books have stakes, they feel both more personal and larger in book three. We’ve spent somewhere around 1,000 pages with many of these characters and in Corey’s world, and in book three not everyone makes it out alive. This is one of the first series I’ve read in which I was yelling out loud at certain deaths.
While the story was interesting to me, even more interesting was Corey’s exploration of morality, faith, and ethics. While Holden and his crew are more or less the protagonists of the series so far, each book also highlights other characters as point of view characters. In this book, a central POV character is a Christian clergywoman. As a person of faith myself, I really enjoyed reading this epic story unfold through her eyes. She is like Holden in many ways, in that her moral compass is based more on doing the “good” thing more than on the results of the good thing. Her foil, also a religious person, also believes he is doing the “good” thing. The exploration of the consequences of “good” and the impact of doing good has on world events was thought-provoking.
This book was the slowest start for me so far, but also the best.