Caliban's War by James SA Corey
A sequel is a tricky proposition at the best of times. ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ was definitely better than ‘Star Wars’, but the second ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ movies were both less than the first. The J.K. Rowling’s second ‘Harry Potter’ book was better than the first, but Christopher Paolini’s second book in his ‘Inheritance Cycle’ was a poor expression of the first.
The proof is there; sequels are tricky propositions, but you wouldn’t know it reading ‘Caliban's War’ by the pseudonymic James S. A. Corey (made up of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck).
The second book in The Expanse series of novels, Caliban's War picks up where Leviathan Wakes lets off (although the reality is you could very easily read it as a standalone). However, this time we are provided insight into four characters, rather than just the two we had access to in the first novel. As a result this story provides a wider scope from which to view events from.
We are reintroduced to Holden, captain of the Rocinante, and his crew. In addition we step into the lives of botanist Prax, Martian marine Bobbie (a she), and Avasarala, assistant to the undersecretary of executive administration of the United Nations.
It is a robust group of characters, and the events they are forced to share are unlike anything humanity has ever faced off against. Political backstabbing prevails in this heated war time environment, and the smallest act could set of system-wide apocalypse (although, no one is going for the ‘smallest’ acts).
The good guys are flawed, facing off against situations no one should ever be forced to deal with, and make mistakes along the way. The bad guys are greedy monsters out to line their own pockets or protect their interests at the expense of anyone; they are not the “cartoonish” oafs some reviewers might have you think, rather, they represent realistically portrayed men and women who have overstepped the bounds of human decency. Sometimes I feel that this realistic portrayal and the simple-minded justifications which drive individuals such as these make some reviewers uneasy, as if the presence of such realistic evil in their fiction is just too much.
I’m continually impressed with what Abraham and Franck are able to pull off, as expressed in several different ways.
Their grasp of the scientific makes their writing believable, even to the somewhat educated. There’s no faster than light travel, and every action has a reaction and penalty for that action. No science-fiction liberties have been taken, the science in this book is rooted so close to fact as to give everything a solid sheen of realism.
The characters we are regularly exposed to are given more than just token backgrounds, but more than that, those backgrounds are sometimes only hinted at, revealing only small clues as to what really exists. Remember, not even your closest friends will necessarily know the full background of every event that makes you you.
And finally, somehow, despite the fact that space battles in such realistically portrayed vastness should be somewhat academic, there is a sense of the futile to them that gives the reader a different kind of adrenalin rush. No more fleets of ships crammed into the same three square feet, replaced instead with the same number of ships facing much graver odds across the vast emptiness of space; where torpedoes don’t have to be launched within spitting distance and a small defensive round could rip through your ship and behead someone inside.
Abraham and Franck have written a sequel worthy of its predecessor, with the same human-futility crossed with nerve-wracking action and character driven realism. The Expanse is a series you really need to get your hands on, as soon as humanly possible.
This Caliban's War book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: Expanse Series
Expanse Series #1
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making r...
Expanse Series #2
On Ganymede, breadbasket of the outer planets, a Martian marine watches as her platoon is slaughtered by a monstrous supersoldier. On Earth, a high-level politician struggl...
Have you read Caliban's War?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Caliban's War reader reviews
Julie from Philippines
Caliban's War is an entertaining novel. The characters , settings, and plot are all well constructed. However, the poor grammar detracts from the book. The constant use of "gotten" in almost every paragraph is some what grating. Surely the authors know more than one verb! Both writers clearly have an understanding of scientific discourse yet they employ schoolboy phrases such as "have to have" when describing suspenseful incidents. A shame really as thorough editing would improve and add to the text.
9.5/10 from 2 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn't expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that's seen better days, offers her everything she co...
Marjorie B Kellogg
Set in the future on a distant world, Lear’s Daughters tackles the issues of global warming, pollution, exploitation of resources, and disastrous climate change. Long...
Iain M Banks
It begins in the realm of the Real, where matter still matters. It begins with a murder. And it will not end until the Culture has gone to war with death itself. Lededje Y&...
The burgeoning new economies in near-Earth space are fuelled by a steady stream of comets, steered back home by huge nuclear-powered mining ships like Bella Lind’s Ro...
The Naked God
Peter F Hamilton
The Confederation is starting to collapse politically and economically, allowing the 'possessed' to infiltrate more worlds. Quinn Dexter is loose on Earth, destroyi...
The very far future: The Galaxy is a drifting wreck of black holes, neutron stars, chill white dwarfs. The age of star formation is long past. Yet there is life here, feedi...
When Streaker - the first starship designed and crewed by dolphins - discovers a derelict ancient armada with evidence of the first sentient species ever, she sets off a wa...
For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Seldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into ...
An Ancient Peace
The centuries-long war between the Confederation and The Others, a group of violent alien species, is over. Intergalactic peace is finally restored. Torin Kerr and her crew...
During all recorded history, the Moon has hovered above our heads, a timeless symbol for lovers' ecstasy. Goddesses & Gibson Girls have tripped the light fantastic ...
Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, ...
The Uplift War
As galactic armadas clash in quest of the ancient fleet of the Progenitors, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth. The various uplifted inhabitants must batt...
Old Man's War
John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army. The good news is that humanity finally made it into interste...
The Dreaming Void
Peter F Hamilton
The year is 3589, fifteen hundred years after Commonwealth forces barely staved off human extinction in a war against the alien Prime. Now an even greater danger has surfac...
Khesh City floats above the surface of the uninhabitable planet of Vellern. Topside, it's extravagant, opulent, luxurious; the Undertow is dark, twisted and dangerous. ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Forget the old days. Forget summer. Forget warmth. Forget anything that doesn’t help you survive in the endless white wilderness beyond the edges of a fallen world. Lynn McBride has learned much since society collapsed in the face of nuclear war and the relentless spread of disease. As the memories of her old life continue to haunt, she...
Paris was supposed to save Hallie. Now... well, let’s just say Paris has other ideas. There’s a strange woman called The Chronometrist who will not leave her al...
A corrupted city. A dark dream of power. Luke is a prisoner, condemned for a murder he didn’t commit. Abi is a fugitive, desperate to free him before magic breaks his...
The Fifth Empire of Man
Rob J Hayes
The Pirate Isles are united under Drake Morrass’ flag, but the war has only just begun. There’s still a long way to go before he’s able to call himself Ki...
Ian C Esslemont
After the disappointments of Li Heng, Dancer and Kellanved wash up on a small insignificant island named Malaz. Immediately, of course, Kellanved plans to take it over. To ...
Age of Swords
Michael J Sullivan
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the co...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...