Review: Babylon’s Ashes (Expanse 6) James SA Corey

Maybe not the Expanse novel readers in 2016 might want but certainly the one most in keeping with the year.

Six novels in and with a TV series also, the ‘universe’ (OK mainly a solar system) of the Expanse now has a wide set of characters and background. Babylon’s Ashes makes full use of the previous novels to deliver a geopolitical* thriller of war, terrorism and things going collectively to shit.

With the previous novel (Nemesis Games) a huge act of terrorism turned the existing political norms of the solar system into chaos. Babylon’s Ashes follows multiple characters in the aftermath of those events as things get worse and then worse again. This is easily the most grim of the Expanse novels, partly because the possibility of a solar system wide social and economic collapse is added to the series of more immediate disasters.

Much less of an exciting space adventure than the previous novels (although there is no shortage of space battles) but I think this is possibly the best of the series. As a story, it would be impossible to tell as a single stand-alone novel and makes effective use of the 5 novel deep back story. Previous decisions and actions all have consequences, the bad guys are plausible, characters have coherent motivations and events are described coherently.

Least good aspect: the ending wraps up everything a bit too quickly but presumably the composite being that is James SA Corey is saving up more complications and intrigue for book 7.

*[which can’t be the right word in context but imagine a word that means the equivalent thing for solar system wide factions sorting out their differences in a bad way]