I have a whole bunch of books in my back log that I need to review (another trip!) but I wanted to jump on this one FIRST because REASONS. And they are spoilery reasons, not just for this book but for Endgame. So I’ll do some regular chit-chat first and push all those spoilers down below the jump. Yeah?
I love these books more and more and beyond words. The world building is just so complete and I can’t get past how engaging and enthralling it is. Ugh. It’s amazing. The flip side of that coin is that way too much happens in these books and I can never remember plot points one to the next. Book 8, Tiamat’s Wrath, starts with James Holden – our erstwhile hero and secret blabber – as a prisoner of Laconia and I cannot for the life of me remember how that happened. That’s one example and it’s just from this book but you know? The two authors that make up James S. A. Corey sell me on it all over again, so it doesn’t really matter! Holden is a prisoner of Laconia and okay we go from there!
Our merry band of heroes are now part of the underground, a scattered group of fighters pushing back in whatever way they can against a madman’s idea of utopia. Naomi Nagata takes center stage (FUUUUUCK YEEEESSSS) along with Alex Kamal and Bobbie Draper. Holden, a captive “dancing bear” as he calls himself, is largely sidelined and I’m so okay with that. This book is awesome.
Okay now on to my spoilers.
There are let’s call them two and a half major character deaths in this book. In the opening sentence we learn that Chrisjen Avasarala has died, simply of old age. When they did they time jump a few books ago I was so terrified we would lose her but now … it was her time and that’s okay. She was an old, old woman who led a full life and put a lot of fucking assholes in their place. I’m okay. I appreciate that they incorporated her very similar granddaughter but only briefly and not as a replacement.
Now I’m also going to talk Endgame spoilers!
The other death was harder, if also sweeter. Bobbie Draper dies in fully Valkyrie mode, almost single handedly taking out an unkillable ship. As I read it, I compared it in my head to the death of Black Widow in Endgame. A significant female character sacrifices herself for a greater good she will never see, a core character that makes us remember that Anyone Can Be Killed. But it’s the differences that hammer home why Endgame did Natasha so dirty. For starters, Expanse has always had more gender parity. It was just Naomi in book 1, but they quickly added Bobbie and Clarissa in pretty rapid succession bringing us to 50/50. Bobbie never had to stand in for all women, because there were plenty of other primary female characters for us to latch on to for different ideas of womanhood. The way they send Bobbie off is also so much better – unlike Natasha, she gets a funeral where her friends who have become family remember her and mourn her and don’t just have The Sads. I wish the Russo brothers had had Tiamat’s Wrath as a guide when they worked on their movie.
I’ll leave the half death up to the readers to get to. I’d really love to know how long it took folks to figure out who that was. The lead up went totally over my head, but within a few lines of dialogue I was very very happy.