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Caliban's War (The Expanse) Paperback – June 26, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 627 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Expanse Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This breakneck tale will have readers itching for book three."―Publishers Weekly

"Caliban's War is even better than Leviathan Wakes. It's old-fashioned space opera, the kind of SF that I cut my teeth on, a real page-turner set in a vividly imagined solar system... superlatively written."―George R.R. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of A Game of Thrones

"A worthy sequel to Leviathan's Wake. Compelling characters and a plot that combines political intrigue with military sf create a memorable story that begs for film adaptation."―Library Journal

"Tense and thrilling"―SciFi Now

About the Author

James S.A. Corey is the pen name of fantasy author Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. They both live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Find out more about this series at www.the-expanse.com.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Expanse (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; First Edition edition (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316129060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316129060
  • ASIN: 0316129062
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (627 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By TChris TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sometimes the second book in a series is a let-down, particularly when it follows a strong initial entry. The good news is that Caliban's War advances the story that Leviathan Wakes began, introduces appealing new characters, adds depth to a familiar character, and reconfirms the authors' ability to tell an energetic, engrossing tale.

Ganymede has been in crisis since Marines from Earth and Mars started shooting at each other. But how did the hostility begin? Only Gunnery Sergeant Bobbie Draper knows the truth: they weren't shooting at each other, but at the monster that was killing them. Since the "monster" could be the protomolecule last seen on Venus in Leviathan Wakes, the Outer Planets Alliance sends James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante to investigate.

Meanwhile, Prax Meng is upset because his daughter Mei was apparently kidnapped during the fighting. Mei has a genetic disorder that puts her at risk of death if she doesn't receive regular treatment. Is there a connection between the snatch and the coincidental timing of the monster's attack? It's up to Holden and his crew to find out.

A third storyline involves Chrisjen Avasarala, an elderly, foul-mouthed UN official whose job is to keep the peace between Earth and Mars, a none-too-easy task. Her story eventually merges with Draper's and becomes one of political intrigue.

I wouldn't recommend reading Caliban's War without first reading Leviathan Wakes. Caliban's War assumes a familiarity with the events that took place in the first novel.
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Format: Paperback
Caliban's War is set just a little bit after the events of Leviathan Wakes, and so the solar system is still riven by long-running tensions among the big three players: Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets. The events of Leviathan Wakes ratcheted that tension up exponentially and also added a fourth player -- the "protomolecule" which was crashed into Venus and is now altering that planet in major and incompressible ways. Things remain balanced on the knife edge of war and once again, the crew of the Rocinante, captained by James Holden, ends up smack dab in the middle. Their storyline is presented via Holden's point of view.''

The precipitating event in Caliban's War is the appearance of a protomolecule "monster" on Ganymede that slaughters all but one of a contingent of marines. The sole survivor, Bobbie, becomes another POV. She eventually ends up working for Avasarala, a UN diplomat trying to hold off war and figure out what happened on Ganymede and who was responsible; she becomes our third POV. Our last POV is Prax, a Ganymede botanist whose sick daughter was kidnapped, a crime seemingly related somehow to the prototmolecule. Prax ends up with Holden and his crew then eventually all four POV characters end up together as their storylines dovetail.''

The characters that return from Leviathan Wakes are nicely deepened in this follow-up (I was an especial fan of Amos in this one), both in their individual constructs and in their relationships with each other. Sometimes, I'll admit, the portrayal may have bordered a bit on the overly-sentimental, but for the most part I enjoyed how the characters were made more complex via back stories, by their changing relationships, or by their realizations about themselves. The new characters vary a bit in effect.
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This is clearly the second book of a trilogy (or, hey, maybe even a quartet, given the pedigree one half of James Corey, Daniel Abraham), built on the foundation laid by 'Leviathan Wakes' and setting up the next book, but it still manages to stand very well on its own. The new characters, particularly Avasarala and Bobbie, are engaging from the get-go, and Holden is a heroic and likable without venturing into Mary-Sue territory.

It starts with action and never gets boring, but it also doesn't feel the need to keep up a frenetic pace; there's plenty of time given over to developing the characters. It manages the right balance of action to downtime to keep the reader interested without leaving them exhausted.

Only one thing kinda struck me as strange, and that was a bit of relationship drama where I couldn't understand how a certain POV character got into such hot water with his girlfriend. I was flabbergasted at how dire things got between them given what seemed like a minor impetus. (I can't complain too much, though, because the fault may well lie with me. ;))

TL;DR version -- Excellent, well-paced sci-fi with likable characters. If you liked the first book, Leviathan Wakes, I recommend it as even better than that one. If you didn't read that, then I recommend both books if you liked John Scalzi's Old Man's War. And, finally, if you didn't read that either...well, get to work.
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While I very much enjoyed the first book in this series, I think this, the second one, is even better!

The plot is very tight and interesting, and the various POV threads come together elegantly. I admire the subtleties here; too often in space opera there's the Good Guys and the Bad'uns, and while that is true here to an extent, the Good Guys also have factions, some of which head into Bad'uns territory, and many of which are at odds with each other more for political than moral reasons.

The characters are also very well-drawn, better than they were in #1 in my opinion. We get to know Holden's crew more than we had, and their characters developed even more than they had in #1.

The new additions are also compelling. Bobbie is a Martian Marine forced by circumstance to broaden her worldview. Prax also has to grow past what he thought he was capable of, and he does, though not necessarily happily.

And- there is Avasarala, who I completely adore. She is unique in my reading as being: a devoted grandma; a loving wife to a poetry professor; and an Indian woman who insists on wearing saris even to business meetings... and also one of the top powerful politicians for Earth, and ruthless in that job- plus she swears like a sailor. After encountering each other, she and the other Good Guys do bat heads about priorities and values- but they are also capable to listening and working out functional compromises.

I had not realized when I started this series that it's 6 books- I'd thought a trilogy! But I am eager to read #3.

Very recommended for fans of space opera who appreciate some thinkiness therein! I think you could start here, but reading #1 will give you more background.
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