Drunk synopses are honest synopses: Book 3 picks up in the outer solar system, with Mr Corey testing our ability not to snigger like teenagers as the protomolecule creates an enormous ring just outside the orbit of Uranus.

Grown up. Honestly. There’s a bevy of new characters in book 3, and – as usual – this first week is all set up as we slowly build up to the rollercoaster. Also, Holden sees dead people.

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).

We’re sinking our teeth into book 3 after the epic cliffhanger at the end of Caliban’s War – our host this week is Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow. Be warned – if you keep reading, There Will Be Spoilers.

 

1. This time around the prologue shows us what became of The Thing That Abandoned Venus. Any ideas about what the purpose of the Ring might be?

I’m pretty sure I’ve been wide of the mark on most of my guesses so far, so <rolls up sleeves><spits in palms> given the foreboding name of Book 3(!) I’ll be slightly disappointed if this doesn’t go full Event Horizon (and because I love you all, I’m not embedding a clip).

…but I don’t honestly expect that. The Expanse has been fairly firmly rooted in reality so far, so while I’m totally on board with the Ring being a gateway to SomeWhere Else (where the Makers come from? Are they going to come through it?) I don’t actually think it’s a gate to a psychotic hellscape.

 

2. New book means new characters! Do any of these newcomers stand out to you at this point? If so, who and why?

I will admit to being less than enamoured of our new flock of characters. I quite like the idea of expanding the cast as our canvas grows ever bigger and more complex, but these ones have some work to do to win me over.

The best thing about Clarissa Melpomene Mao is her name, frankly; the rest of her is annoying me with her ridiculous crusade to salvage her father’s entirely-appropriately-ruined name. Julie Mao’s sister is a good deal less interesting than Julie Mao, and I’m too tired to feel much sympathy for the fact that her father’s amoral corporate antics resulted in her losing her comfortable rich girl life – and no sympathy at all for her displacing her rage onto Jim Holden. There’s so many bandwagons I could jump on for chastising James Holden, but this isn’t one of them. That said, I have to admire her commitment, even as I deplore her actions. Character Most Likely To Go Full Event Horizon And Lose Her Eyes? Certainly. The sooner the better.

As for Baca, the ‘old’ military veteran / friend of Fred wasn’t going over (ancient; I mean, he’s in his 40s. GAH), but I have a big soft spot for ruthless efficiency, so spacing the drug dealer practically won me over on the spot. I’ll give him more rope. And ugh, Ashton.

I have to like Anna on principle (ahem), although preachers really aren’t my schtick (and yes, I was unwillingly baptised a Methodist in spite of my best evasive efforts as a baby). I suspect I will be wholeheartedly in love with her by the end of next week – she’s smart, empathetic, and down to earth, which are all qualities I appreciate.

 

3. It looks like bureaucracy is finally catching up to the Rocinante crew. Do you think they’ll actually lose the ship?

I really hope not. You’d hope they had enough friends to intervene – but I guess none of them are Martian. I half-wonder whether this trip to the Ring will end in the Roci‘s destruction; I half-wonder whether they’ll end up aboard the Behemoth when Ashton (surely) comes to a sticky end. But I have a soft spot for the security and stability the Roci represents, and I’d be very sad to see their time with her end.

 

Other thoughts for the week…

HEY we got a Prologue that wasn’t entirely traumatic! I had some other more sensible thoughts, but then I had a torrid week and a big glass of wine, so now I’m mostly full of keen to get on to week 2!

Wait, no – the other thing. MILLLLLLLEEEERRRRRR! Or is it? It’s like a bad connection to someone else’s phone call – but is there still a vestige of Miller in the protomolecule? And when I say ‘in the protomolecule’ what the hell do I mean? Is there still some on Venus? Is it all in the Ring? Has it gone through the Ring? What on earth (or off it) is going on? And why doesn’t Miller ever stick around when someone else enters the room? Is he really there? (and uuuuggggh blue protomolecule sparks up the nose. Just NO). I really don’t know what’s going on here, but I’m dying to believe there’s a bit of Miller – and a bit of Julie – still extant, and I think that plays nicely into Anna’s meditations of what the protomolecule means (and Soledad’s fears that it means the spirits of the dead haven’t been released to move on). And part of me still believes that this Holden’s trauma coming back to bite him.

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

 

A round-up of the weekly discussions for Book 3: