The Expanse Read-along: Persepolis Rising – Week 4

Book cover: Persepolis Rising - James S A Corey (who would have guessed - it's a close up of a spaceship in flight)Separated by the Gate and a terrifyingly dangerous spaceship, the dissidents aboard Medina and the final fleet of the Solar System prepare to bring the fight to the Laconians. But Holden is in enemy hands…

It’s the final instalment of The Expanse read-along… at least until there are more volumes of The Expanse to delight us. We have been reading Persepolis Rising and blogging (more or less) weekly in response to a host’s prompts. Expect enthusiasm and/or ranting – Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow is our host this final week (what are we going to do with ourselves after this?)

Be warned – There Will Be Spoilers.


1. There’s no hope for some people… What was your response to Singh’s ultimate failure, and his fate? Does anyone feel sympathy for him at this point

No. No, no, no. None whatsoever.

Although I had a proper laugh at the Jurassic Park moment where shit began raining down and he hid in the loo.

Ahem. Back to the question.

liked Singh initially – before he left Laconia. I had hopes for his personal journey. But the man was too proud to listen to people with experience and too stupid (apparently) to question his education even when it blew up in his face every single time he applied its lessons. I have no patience for people who won’t learn.

Although, the irony:

“I’m an officer of the Laconian Empire, Governor Singh. I believe what I’m told to believe.”

Still, my reading notes for Singh’s final scene start off with a sort of rueful ‘well, Singh, you know what’s coming for you’ as he mused about the greatest single failure (and HALLO we started this journey by gaining an insight into how Laconia rewards fuck-ups)… only to add ‘WAIT. WHAT? He’s DOUBLING DOWN??’

Yeah, no sympathy.

Honestly, I think getting shot in the face is getting let off lightly by Laconian standards.


2. Naomi has The Hardest Decision to make – to save Jim, or to save the rest of her family and the resistance. How do you feel about her actions, and her perspective, in the final chapters?

Oh my poor bruised heart. I’ve loved Naomi from waaaaaaaaaaaay back when (and not because she was the only woman on page for a long while), but these past three books have been emotional. She’s such a fighter, and her EQ is off the charts – and so is her commitment. She’s also ruthlessly honest with herself.

We know she’s struggled with depression (fuck you Marco), but she’s resilient. These days, when the world goes to shit, Naomi goes to work. And maybe that’s one way of warding off depression, but it’s also the best way to seize agency and make a difference.

Oh, how I love Naomi. Better, I respect her. Off the charts.


3. So. Not everyone on Team Rocinante made it to safety… What did you make of Clarissa’s sacrifice?


I know I called it last week, and it came down pretty much exactly as I expected, but that just doesn’t matter. Hats off to Corey, because I made no bones about hating Clarissa Melpomene Mao in Abaddon’s Gate, and he turned me around so completely in Nemesis Games (and has cemented that book on book) I should have headspin.

I’m not big on redemption stories: I think some acts are unforgivable and I don’t like the way some stories tend to hand-wave away the past with a heroic death. But I love Clarissa precisely because she doesn’t seek forgiveness for her past deeds. She tries to atone for them with no expectation of erasing them; an ongoing, selfless apology. She makes her contribution towards what she hopes is the right thing, and make the most of the time she has left.

No Clarissa, your crimes aren’t forgotten. But I cherished the person you became.


4. Holden meets Duarte, and we finally learn his ultimate goal, if not precisely his plans for achieving it. How blown was your mind? And is Duarte a madman, or could he just maybe be onto something…?

…pretty blown, honestly. Of all the motivations, I didn’t call Duarte’s being that long-sighted or strategic. And on the one hand, I feel a bit foolish for that (we’ve heard all about his amazing vision), but on the other… I don’t entirely trust him. He’s semi-psychic now and has always been entirely manipulative.

So let’s take a moment to play a game. You can conquer humanity one planet at a time with your enormous, all-powerful ships. Or you can look for an easier, quicker way that reduces fatalities. So who’s the one person who has repeatedly been pitched (in the media at least) as the independent saviour of humanity?

…yeah, Jim Holden.

And what’s the one message Duarte can feed Holden to get him on side?

…that there’s a bigger threat. The one Jim already knows about. The one humanity has no defence against. If it’s inevitable that it’s coming for them, surely the only rational thing to do is to join forces. Right?

Join me, Jim. See how we’re all the same.

…which, ironically, would win over Avasarala too.


So I don’t know if I believe him (that this was his plan from the outset), but I believe he’s got a problem too big to solve right now and that he can’t afford a protracted war so he’s adopting a new tactic.

And I can’t wait for the next book.


Any other thoughts? 

Let’s take a moment to appreciate Amos and Bobbie. Honestly, I think they got almost all my favourite lines this week (except Alex channelling Firefly and observing they’re too pretty to die), and Bobbie got to be a complete badass into the bargain.

But it’s really all about the wonderful scene in which Bobbie makes Amos talk about his feelings, recognising full well that it’s not what Holden would have done. Damn straight, lady. He was a complete coward when it came to confronting his crew’s emotional states. Not Bobbie.

“Whatever ship I’m the captain of, if you’re on it, that means you and I have clear, open and honest conversations about your mental health. This isn’t friendship. This isn’t nurturing. This is me telling you how it goes.”


There’s a heartbeat where this can go either way, and then Amos opens up to her and I’m crying a little bit just thinking about it.

And then –

and then –

“You know, you’re gonna be good at this captain thing”


Oh, my stuttering heart.


Take a tour of our responses this week:

  • Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
  • Sarah at The Illustrated Page
  • Allie at Tethyan Books
  • 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 7: