Overview (No Spoilers):
It has been 8 months since my last The Expanse adventure and was I ever overdue! The delay in reading was two fold, due to my library not having Persepolis Rising in its vast list of titles and the ending of Babylon’s Ashes feeling like a conclusion of sorts. I did find and download Persepolis Rising months ago on Audible, whereupon I started the book at least four times before giving up and switching one of the waiting library titles that had a hard deadline. Besides lacking a due date looming, this eighth book of The Expanse was difficult to jump back into as there was a 30 year gap in the story line between novels. The world as Babylon’s Ashes had left it was changed drastically during the time lapse, leaving the reader to catch up while navigating now unsure footing as to the identity and motivations of new key players. That being said, it didn’t take long for Corey’s established rhythms to assert themselves, even in this foreign terrain. Throughout this novel I had the sense that pawns were being maneuvered, albeit in high suspense action packed ploys, to restructure the prevailing foundations constructed over the preceding seven novels now that the the rules of engagement have abruptly changed.
There is a mix of new and old characters, with much emphasis on the dynamics of the now familiar crew of the Rocinante. For much of this series, dangerous scenarios are mitigated from the reader’s perspective when they involve this crew due to their survival, regardless of how hopeless the situation, being the normal outcome. As I’ve grown attached to this crew, I’m not complaining about this trend, however this sense of safety definitely impacts the intensity of my emotions during any hazardous scene. So, now that Cory has now lulled his readers into comfortable complacency, he yanks the rug out in a way that will leave the reader reeling.
At the end of an earlier installment of The Expanse series, I had lamented that the cliffhanger seemed so hopeless that it left me unexcited for the pain and suffering that would likely follow in the next book. Persepolis Rising also concludes with a dire predicament that has a comparable sense of despair, however the promise of learning more about a new society and advanced technologies, leaves me with conflicting feelings of excitement at the adventures to follow in Tiamat’s Wrath. I’m a broken record at this point due to repeating this sentiment in every review of this series, but The Expanse, as a whole, gets exponentially better with each highly anticipated installment. Overall, in many ways, Persepolis Rising manages to scatter the thoughtfully maneuvered playing board to introduce novel technologies and ‘new’ enemies that will ultimately provide fodder for a multitude of fresh installments in the series.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- What unexpected side effects will Admiral Duarte experience due to the unvetted science experiments that he is undergoing?
- What will happen to Holden in Laconia?
- How will the massive meeting of the minds on Laconia go?
- Will Drummer and Saba be reunited? Where did he scatter to after leaving Medina?
- What happened to Jordao’s sister?
- Will Earth continue to be reopened? Will Freehold betray Alex and Naomi?
- Will Bobbie and Amos learn all of the secrets of the Gathering Storm?
- I did not expect Laconia to order the killing of Singh before he could order a genocide. Will his wife play a bigger role in opposing Duarte?
- Is the mysterious light on the Tempest still there? What triggered it to show up?
- Clarissa dying was honestly expected in this book with how sick she was but I half expected Laconia to be able to ‘fix’ her. Her death was still terribly sad, however she went out fighting and saving Naomi.