The Expanse Read-along: Caliban’s War – Week 4

Banner: glimpse of a space station in orbit - text reads Caliban's War Read Along

Crunch time: can Avasarala, Bobbie and the crew of Rocinante survive – let alone stop a war and rescue Prax’s daughter – or have they finally been out-gunned? We’re at the point where everything is hard to put down and – and book 2 ends on a cliffhanger (that last line) so I’ll be barrelling right through to Abaddon’s Gate.

For those new to the Read-along – we are working our way through The Expanse from beginning to end, reading about a quarter of each book per week and blogging weekly in response to a host’s prompts. Expect enthusiasm and/or ranting – it’s fun, and if you fancy joining in, the schedule is at the bottom of this post – grab a copy and read along (you don’t have to keep to the time table). Our host this week is Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow.

Be warned – if you keep reading, There Will Be Spoilers. Enormous. Massive. Just don’t if you haven’t, okay? Because this is excellent and you’d have way more fun reading it cold.


1. Bobbie’s idea turns out to be sneakier than I expected! Do you think this is a case of brains as well as muscle power, or is she learning a thing from Avasarala?

I read this as Bobbie reading the ground – of course she knows how the Martians think, and she’s familiar with military tactics. She was always top of her game – top of her boot camp, a squad leader as well as a Marine, and I think we’re seeing that if she’d been able to stick with it she could have ended up a commanding officer. That’s not to say that Avasarala’s roundabout way of thinking isn’t rubbing off! But I think this is clever warfare as much as smart politics.


2. The crew split up to take on various missions, all different but all important. Holden, Prax, Bobbie… Which final battle POV sticks with you most, and why?

I was intrigued by how personal it all got: each storyline was both a violent, harrowing, full-gore resolution and a facing up to demons to make peace with the past. That’s a tricky thing to pull off, and hats off to Corey for managing it. I do think Holden and Bobbie stick with me a little more (perhaps because I don’t have kids?) – each acknowledging that they feel they should already have died and then facing down their PTSD. Both of their battles were also really damn squicky – I didn’t expect Bobbie’s antagonist to be quite so Alien – and I liked that she was able to abandon her suit and move into her future, and Holden returns to his core principles in facing down Nguyen (he won’t deal to give him a pass off the ship; but he doesn’t shoot him either – he’s not Miller, in the end).

As for Amos, you shoot away, buddy.


3. “What’s that?” What indeed. What do you make of whatever the heck just lifted off from Venus, and where do you think it’s going?


I have no answers for this one – I would say it’s either heading out of the solar system to open our stage up to Those Who Sent It In The First Place or (given what we’ve seen of the protomolecule to date) heading for a huge source of radiation to fuel its next evolutionary leap. Now, the biggest one handy is obviously the Sun, but that would seem like a poor choice – so Jupiter would be the next best choice as far as I know. And that plays nicely into the politics of the Belt…

But if Fred’s really unlucky, it’s coming to settle a score.


4. Speaking of what was on Venus, let’s discuss THAT ending. When you’re done (presumably) flailing, of course… Thoughts? Reactions? Theories?


I… got way more attached to that character than I expected or indeed realised, since I spent most of their page time irritated with them. But, um. There you go. HALLO.

However, as I reflect on everything, I can’t help but remember Julie Mao. Holden has just moved on, right? He’s faced down his memories of Eros; he’s refused to step into Miller’s shoes; and now… he’s seeing the dead. Is he though? Or has he gained his own inner voice he perhaps shouldn’t listen to?



Other thoughts for the week…

Although we know that there was a bidding war to buy the product, we still don’t actually know who the mystery seller was, do we? Or did I get so distracted I missed that (there were uniforms and professionals, but where were they from?)? Equally, I don’t think we know where they got the protomolecule to work with? And the funding? Is this a bit of Protogen that survived? Was Io their last base?

Given what just happened on Venus it may not really matter. But I wonder.


Take a tour of our responses this week:

  • Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  • Sarah at The Illustrated Page
  • Susan at Dab of Darkness
  • Feel free to join in in the comments on our blogs or on Goodreads – but no spoilers!


A round-up of the weekly discussions for Book 1: