Space Opera | Book Review: Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey


The Expanse series has been one of the best space opera in recent times and with timely releases every year, it’s easy to stay hooked. The television show based on the books is just the icing on the cake. With the release of book 7, there’s now only two books left to go and so many questions that need answering. PR has of course raised way more questions than it answers but man, was this a brilliant book.

Without giving away too much of the review, let me just say this: what an incredible book. My mind is blown.

Before continuing with this review, I’d like to warn readers who may stumble on this review without ever having read anything from the series. STOP right here and don’t read any further. It’s really difficult to review book 7 of a series without any spoilers. So be warned.

“It’d be a better world if there was always at least one right answer instead of a bucket of fucked.”Chrisjen Avasarala

First off, let’s discuss the fact that the plot starts of 30 years after the events of Babylon’s Ashes. This almost seems like a reboot of the series. Our favorite crew is all there, just older and slow. Even the Roci is old and outdated by current standards. Amongst this brave new future, the old gang is still doing odd jobs for the planetary governments while staying together as a family does. I’ll admit that I was a bit wary at first with the big time leap. It took a while for things to settle and for me to start accepting the almost senior citizen versions of the characters we all love. You don’t realize how many years have passed till you read Holden and Naomi discuss retiring and settling down somewhere. All is not lost of course, it gets better the more pages you read.

The book starts off with the Roci being sent on an assigment to the colony of Freehold. Drummer, now head of the Transport Union, is angry at Freehold for not obeying the rules laid down for gate travel and doing what they want. She wants the Roci to go tell them that they’re being cutoff from all trade. Holden and the crew realize its a death sentence for a fledgling colony and well, we all know Holden by now.

“Duty isn’t a buffet where you pick what you want and ignore the rest.”Santiago Singh

The inner planets and the belt are at peace and have been since the events of BA. A peace which seems has been accepted fairly well across all the worlds; a peace that was probably only present before the events of Leviathan Wakes. With human colonization progressing each year and more and more distant colonies being settled through the gate network, things are looking good. During this long period of peace, the Laconians decide to show up. Admiral Duarte and his merry band of Martian Navy deserters have been locked up in the Laconia system for thirty years. No one knows what they have been upto all this while and most assumed their colony perished without easy access to trade. Clearly, things are not so.

Early on we’re shown that Duarte’s crew has been heavily experimenting with all things protomolecule and Duarte seems to have become an immortal with its use. He clearly has plans to mess with the peace and sends one, Santiago Singh, as his emissary. And then the story goes from ‘wow’ to ‘omg! stop!’.

PR tends to go from 0-200 very quickly. The main plot of the book and all the action starts somewhere around 20% and doesn’t stop till the very end. It was a blast to read this and go from shock to horror to a whole range of other emotions which I can’t share without giving away too much.

She wanted to scream. She wanted to have Avasarala thrown out of the city in a plastic emergency bubble with a note tacked to her cane that said ‘Make an appointment first’Drummer

Amos and Bobbie are just as lovable as they were. There are a few scenes between them that made me stop reading and ponder for a while. Dealing with incredible situations while facing mortality and death is never easy but the crew of the Roci have done it all before. Just makes me feel sad to see that it never ends. It was nice to see Avasarala back in the book as well; an old lady she might be but her quips still make you chuckle.

Holden and Naomi haven’t changed all that much. It is no surprise here that Holden isn’t really the hero of this book like he was for the previous books. It may be a sign of things to come in future books. We’ll just have to wait and see where it goes.

Drummer and Saba were excellent characters here. It’s pretty good to see how far Drummer has come and she is a flawed but good leader. The Transport Union serves an important logistics purpose and Drummer does a fine job of managing it. Saba on the other hand is a throwback to the old OPA. His methods and operating style really do remind you of the OPA during NG and BA. The two of them are a weird but good combination. Opposites really do attract.

“You really kicked the shit out of me”, he said.

“Would have been easier to kill you,” Babs said, and grinned with bloody teeth. “But I feel like we still need your dumb ass.”Amos and Bobbie

The Laconians are a special bunch. From Duarte to Singh to Trejo, their dedication to the cause and single-mindedness about their objective is just so irritating. At first, its easy to call them the bad guys. Singh really does not help that label much. As an authoritarian force, the Laconians seem to do all the wrong things; terrible punishments, experimenting on their own subjects and crushing and form of dissent with capital punishments. But look deeper and you’ll realize that they’re probably better than any other enemies in the past 6 books. The Laconians are as grey as they can be. While I may hate them, I am intrigued and excited by what they want and what they’re doing.

It would be just repetitive to say I can barely wait for book 8. I might even regret reading book 7 in two days….but hell, was it an amazing ride.

Persepolis Rising




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