Babylon’s Ashes doesn’t really have much new to say.
One one hand, the interplanetary and interpersonal conflicts we say growing through the last book or two come to a head here, with space battles large and small, culminating in a lot of destruction and a fascinating yet completely mysterious final battle.
On the other hand, like books 4 and 5 of the Expanse, the protomolecule that drove so much of the first three books is essentially completely absent from this one. I wish I could get over that; without taking the first three books into account, this is really quite a good bit of scifi. But that’s a good chunk of the reason why this is my lowest rated Expanse novel by far.
On a more positive note, the authors must have listened, since we get many of the fan favorites back again–in particular Bobbie and Avasarala. On the other hand, there are a lot of plot threads and characters that I just don’t care about.
The big bad of the books–Marco–is mostly forgettable. He just seems too bad at what he’s doing to be as successful as he is. It doesn’t seem impossible; incompetent people can do terrible things jsut fine–it’s just not as enjoyable to read about.
Overall, I’m glad that they finished up a lot of the plotlines that they did. However, when the next Expanse book comes out, I’m going to have to read the reviews ahead of time. If they stay in the solar system and nothing happens with the protomolecule, I might just be done with this series.
So it goes.