Everybody wants to get their hands on Jim Holden – but Mars got to him first. As Baca tries to persuade the survivors to join him aboard the Behemoth, the Martians refuse to hand over their prisoner – and Captain Ashford becomes increasingly volatile. Meanwhile, Anna shows Melba just what a priest can do when she puts her mind to it…

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 and the plot is cranking up to the finale – I’m the host this week, so the questions are all mine. Be warned – if you keep reading, There Will Be Spoilers.

 

1. So, Ashford is a deranged man with a military force and a religious nut backing him up. Do you think the counter-coup will stick (or even stick together)?

…I sort of wonder at it, if I’m honest. Sure, Cortez is just plain bonkers – and he doesn’t even know about Jim’s all-powerful Evil That Devours Stars! – and he strikes me as a conventional power bloc sort of guy anyway, but I’m a bit surprised Ashford has found broad support from beyond the Behemoth. I’m not sure why he seems to be a sensible rallying point to any of them, so I have to assume there are multiple groups manoeuvring for position here (e.g. Martians and Earthers with an eye on taking the Behemoth for themselves.

I half-expect it to devolve into multiple groups fighting each other (which will hopefully give Jim, Sam, Bull and Pa time to organise against them).

 

2. So we’re asking this question every week now. It’s a thing, okay? Where are you with the new characters NOW?

Okay, I’m all won over. Bull facing down Ashford was wonderful, as is his determination to just keep getting the job done – I can see the doctor’s frustrated face. I am so worried about him, because he’s clearly in a mess physically – it will be a miracle if he survives medically, let alone evades Ashford’s supporters and survives the counter-coup.

And Anna. ANNA. It’s weird yelling your own name in delight, okay? Anna hunting down Melba. Anna telling Naomi she won’t shoot the madwoman in the mech who is about to rip them to pieces. Anna introducing herself to Melba in the vet cells.

We’ve met before but we haven’t really been introduced.

I’m not one for religion and I don’t recognise Anna’s brand of Methodism, but the preacher has my heart. She’s a good’un as well as a do-gooder. I’ll admit to being surprised when she embraced Melba’s cause – but not entirely.

I’m happy Melba has been thwarted, although her meltdown is as melodramatic as her unreasoning crusade. However, I’m hoping that her apparent support for Ashford is a sham – that her take on redemption will be to foil his counter-coup.

 

3. Confronted by Anna, the crew of the Rocinante have a big decision to make. What do you make of their response(s)?

This entire scene gave me such joy. We’ve always known Naomi is thoughtful and compassionate; if Melba had killed any of her crew I think she would have been vengeance personified, but it didn’t surprise me that she could – if not necessarily forgive – at least move past Melba’s crimes against the Roci. Amos, as usual, will go along with whatever Naomi wants (although I wonder if that would have been true if he’d been awake during Melba’s assault), but his response is vintage:

Things change, Red, you let us know. Because I’ll still be happy to kill the shit out of her

…but it was Alex that had me air punch, stepping into the limelight the way Amos does towards the end of Caliban’s War when he demands his vote. That’s right Jim, you’re being an arse. And sure, I can see why he was taking it all very personally (he was Melba’s motivation, after all, and there’s a world of guilt packed into his psyche for just this sort of circumstance), but I am so proud of the Roci’s crew for not letting him get away with that shit.

 

4. So Miller’s back then, and it’s all falling apart. Predictions for the finale? Will they get home?

I don’t think I’ve called one yet, but I’ll start with my hopes – I hope Melba punches Ashford out and derails the counter-coup. I wonder whether Anna will be put back in the position of deciding whether she can kill someone. I would sort of love for the wrong gate to open and everyone to find themselves somewhere else entirely (…but I don’t actually thing that will happen). I would dearly like to see no more of Hector Cortez (he’s the sort that rubs me up entirely the wrong way). I will be surprised (and very glad) if Bull survives his injuries. I do think they will find their way back, partly because I’d secretly adore for them not to but so far Corey has kept his books reasonably self-contained – bridges, not cliffhangers – and because that could trigger political fall out back home that would see Avasarala back in the thick of things (and I’d like to have her back).

 

Other thoughts for the week…

‘SCUSE ME I NEED TO GO FINISH A BOOK.

 

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 3: