Book cover: Persepolis Rising - James S A Corey (who would have guessed - it's a close up of a spaceship in flight)The Laconian heel is firmly on the back of Medina’s neck this week, as Governor Singh flexes his authoritarian muscles and the Belters’ reflexively push back. Holden and Naomi must decide what to do with their future now their options have narrowed dramatically; whilst Drummer gets unexpected advice on securing a future for all of humanity…

Welcome back to The Expanse Read-along! We will be reading Persepolis Rising across the next 4 weeks, and blogging weekly in response to a host’s prompts. Expect enthusiasm and/or ranting – if you fancy joining in, the schedule is at the bottom of this post – just grab a copy and read along (you don’t have to keep to the time table). I’m this week’s host, so let’s get right to it!

Be warned – There Will Be Spoilers.

 

1. We see more of Governor Singh in these chapters, and … Well. He certainly takes ‘doing it by the book’ rather more literally than most. How do you feel about the man after this closer character exploration, and his response(s) to attempts at resistance on Medina

My sympathy has pretty much evaporated like a puddle on a hot day, if I’m honest. The warning signs were all there in his introduction – he’s the perfect loyal regime boy, and a true believer to boot. He knows that humanity would be better under Laconian rule – all headed in one direction, for the greater good of all – and believes the price is worth paying. After all, you’ll only ever pay that price if you’re a traitor. And a traitor is anybody who undermines the system in any way.

No worries about punishments being in line with transgressions, when any transgression is unforgivable.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether Duarte is this bad if his junior officers all are… and what I can’t tell is whether Singh is driven by insecurity / fear of failure or whether he’s just got authoritarian instincts. Even after he’s had it vigorously pointed out to him that he’s being an idiot, he can’t stop himself over-reacting (or even start himself calling his officers by name).

I expected Singh to be used to show us the humane side of Laconia; in the end, it seems he’s the opposite.

 

2. Captain Draper’s having a difficult time of it, elsewhere – though at least she’s not lashing out in her efforts to deal with that. What did you make of her conversation with Holden regarding the underground movement?

OH BOBBIE LEMME GIVE YOU A HUG AND BUY YOU A BEER.

I mean, this isn’t on the nose at all. Practically every woman has had this experience at some point I suspect, and it’s SO FRUSTRATING and I am SO PROUD of Bobbie – who can take all of them apart with the right motivation (and O HAI motivation) – for not losing her temper with any of them or decking them.

On the other hand – let’s be honest. If I were choosing between a stranger who I didn’t know from a pebble, and a hero of the Solar System with a track record for resolving issues / getting his people out of tight situations, I’d probably defer to the hero in the first instance too. But good on Jim – he doesn’t always pick up on things quickly, but once pointed out to him he’s done a pretty good job of getting Bobbie in the mix.

Also, I’m going to say it: she learnt a lot from Avasarala way back when, didn’t she?

 

3. SHE’S ALIVE! Avasarala comes to Drummer’s (political) aid, though it seems Madam President is less than thrilled with the idea. What’s your take on their interaction, and in particular that last conversation between them?

Oh, Avasarala, always with one more play to break my heart. I think Drummer is rightly suspicious of Madam Ex-President – of course Avasarala is a manipulative old bitch – but it doesn’t mean she’s wrong. I delighted in the scene where Avasarala arrived and wrong-footed Drummer – but I also cheered Drummer’s response, which was appropriate. Boundaries are required, Chrissie.

And I can sympathise with Drummer resenting have the Grand Dame of the Solar System breathing down her neck. They don’t have a previous relationship; there’s going to be a base layer of distrust there that goes back through most of Drummer’s adult life. Having Avasarala around can’t be comforting.

…and that’s before she says ‘hey we’re all human even as we try to obliterate each other’. That’s a hugely heartening statement to me, but I think Drummer is going to kick back against it pretty hard.

 

4. Any other thoughts/feelings/speculations etc. on this week’s chapters? Let’s have ’em… 

“Everywhere’s Baltimore”

…can we take a moment to worry about Amos? From his initial placid assessment of the Laconian occupation, I thought he’d take this in his stride – but he clearly isn’t, and I don’t think it’s just concern for Peaches getting access to her meds. The fight with the Voltaire Collective didn’t need to happen – it happened because Amos needed to punch someone. That doesn’t bode well. Trying to pull that on a Laconian will have fatal repercussions.

To some degree, ‘winning hearts’ was always part of the mandate

I have had this tiny little guilty worry that Bobbie might decide the Laconians weren’t so bad. After all – I don’t think they’ve actually done anything on Medina yet that the MCRN wouldn’t have considered acceptable and appropriate. Admiral Trejo’s assertion that there was always a hearts and minds initiative to win over the Belters doesn’t match her Marine training in intimidation and reprisal.

…don’t get me wrong – I don’t think she’d stomach them testing the protomolecule on people (let alone for the slightest infraction) – but she doesn’t know about that yet. I spent part of this week trying not to worry that she might turn, especially when she and Alex had the conversation about trying to hook up with old contacts on the Laconian side. It seemed like a cue for the Testing of Bobbie Draper.

But it doesn’t look like we’re going there, for which I’m very grateful.

 

Take a tour of our responses this week:

 

A round-up of the weekly discussions for Book 6: