Monday, February 19, 2018

Book Review: 'Persepolis Rising' by James SA Corey

Another great entry in 'The Expanse' series from James SA Corey.

Its been a number of years, almost three decades, since the events of the last book, 'Babylon's Ashes', and the crew of the Rocinante are still together, and despite the years, still the same 'loveable' ragtag crew we know and love.

We join them currently in the employ of the Transport Union and en route from Medina Station to Freehold, one of the many colonies out in the universe. But just as they return, and with Holden and Naomi considering retirement and leaving the Rocinate to Bobbie Draper, a Laconian battleship arrives with intention of taking over Medina Station as well as control of the gates that lead to Earth, Mars and the colonised worlds.

As with previous Books in 'The Expanse' series, each chapter is from a different character viewpoint. This time we get James Holden, captain of the Rocinante; Drummer, president of the Transport Union; Santiago Jilie Singh of the Laconian military, and Bobbie Draper from the Roci crew. We also get a couple of POV from the rest of the Rocinante crew, but the focus is mostly on the aforementioned characters. As the events of the book unfold, each viewpoint delves into the thoughts and actions of the characters, as they find themselves under the rule of an autocratic authority, or part of in Singh's case. It was great to read the differing personalities and motives from each side of the conflict.

The story is very engaging with a tight plot, that despite a lot of things going on, doesn't meander or lose track of itself. The action, drama and tension is cranked up to full. Characters in 'The Expanse' are expendable, and we don't know who will be around by the time we get to the end of the book. The characters are, as always, well grounded and realistic. The way the different personalities bounce off one another, some physically at times, is just one of the many reasons why I love this series. The character growth of the crew of the Roci over the course of the series has been a pleasure to read. You get a real sense that are more family than just crew.

The huge jump in time between this and the previous book does work really well, although I was perhaps a bit worried that some of my favourite characters from the series wouldn't be around anymore. I needn't have worried. There have already been several novellas released that have been set in between previous books, so I'm sure (hope) that there could be more released that fill in the almost 30 year gap in the intervening years of the crew of the Rocinante, as I'd imagine that there would be plenty of interesting stories to tell.

'The Expanse' series, not including the various novellas, has been planned as a nine book series, and 'Persepolis Rising' seems to be the beginning of the final arc, as there are now only two more books left in the space opera series. It's an ideal jumping on point in the series if you've not read any of the books in the series before, but I'd still recommend reading the other books in series (as well as the TV series that's based on books too) as it is an excellent series, but you don't really need to know too much about previous events before diving in, but it's a better experience if you did.

I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Jefferson Mays, who has performed all of the books in the series. His narration ads another dimension to the reading of the book. If you've listened to his take on 'The Expanse' from the beginning, when you hit play on a new audiobook, it's always a welcome return to the universe and the characters that inhabit it, no matter how much or how fleeting they appear.

It's an excellent return to the series, and I'm excited, and really looking forward to the next book.