The sixth book in the Expanse series.


Publishing year: 2016

Format: Print

Publisher: Orbit

Page count: 536

Babylon’s Ashes picks up right after the shocking end of the previous book, Nemesis Games. It also has a lot more POV characters than the previous books. Holden and Captain Pa get most chapters but we also get brief glimpses all over the solar system, from Doctor Prax Meng in Ganymede to the Belters on the Medina Station on the other side of the Ring. War has spread everywhere.

After the devastating blow that the Free Navy leader Marco Inaros gave to Earth, Earth and Mars have reunited against the Belters. Hunger threatens everyone when the biggest resource in the solar system can’t support much life anymore. The Free Navy is raiding colony ships heading toward the Ring and the alien planets on the other side.

Still, Mars and Earth are suspicious of each other and the more peaceful Belters hate all the inner planets’ people. Inaros tells about his grand plan to his inner circle. For now, it means giving ground to the inner planets and leaving Belters to their mercy. Captain Pa disagrees and splits off. She plans to still raid the colony ships and supply all Belters with their resources. The inner planets call on Captain Holden and the crew of the Rocinante.

Meanwhile, the Free Navy is increasing its hold on the neutral Ganymede that producing a lot of food. Doctor Meng finds a way to increase food production but is forbidden to help Earth. At Medina Station, people are also getting paranoid, even looking for traitors among themselves.

Holden realizes that the Belters and the Earthers don’t see each other as human beings but rather as faceless enemies. He decides to humanize Belters to the other humans. I can understand his reasoning. However, it seems to me that the Belters are the ones demonizing Earth and Mars people. After all, Belters are the ones who killed billions of people on Earth. Holden should have been humanizing Earthers to Belters, as well. Of course, Holden is from Earth.

Some familiar characters return as POV characters: Alex, Amos, Naomi, Bobbie, and Avasarala. I especially enjoyed Avasarala’s POV. Prax Meng’s POV also illuminates the increasing paranoia of Ganymede when the occupation continues. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with the others. Filip especially was an annoyance and I skimmed his self-centered, angsty teenage POV. He’s a murderer and doesn’t have a bit of remorse. On the contrary, he’s proud of his part in killing Earth. I also didn’t really connect with the Medina Station people. The big bad in this book didn’t work for me. He’s a caricature and the only way he’s climbed to his current position is by manipulating others. I did like Michio Pa.

This was a very different book from the previous one, following the spreading war and the politics being it. Sadly, it abandons the protomolecule and the new planets. Of course, the planets have been rather a MacGuffin to fight over rather than interesting places to explore.

This was the lowest point of the series to me. In fact, I’m not sure if I’ll continue.