Review: Tiamat’s Wrath
When I received the eARC of this book, it came with a request that reviews not go up more than two weeks before the publication date. The book is slated to be released on March 26th, and so this review is absolutely within that deadline. I was curious though as to how many people listened to the request of the publisher, and so I went searching for any sign of preemptive book reviews. And you know what I found? Pages up with “reviews” from both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. I’m not going to link them because I’m kind of perturbed by both of them right now. Not only did they post their “reviews” better than two months early, but their “reviews” consist of what amounts to a book-cover blurb and two sentences of something that might be vaguely interpreted as a “review”. Honestly? This is what EBR has to compete against in the SEO world? I can’t say that I’ve ever actually read a review from either of those sites before, and now I doubt that I ever will again.
But no worries. The actual book is absolutely smashing fantabulous! Here we go!
TIAMAT’S WRATH (Amazon) is the eighth and <<sigh>> second to last book in The Expanse. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have done a brilliant job of bringing us into their universe and making us believe. The books themselves have been a ridiculous amount of fun and intensity and I have loved every minute of every one, but I have to admit that I’ve also very thoroughly enjoyed the series put together by SyFy and eagerly anticipate seeing its continuation on Amazon. But enough about that.
The story starts with Holden — of course it does — and news of the death of Crisjen Avasarala. Everything has changed. Not only for our heroes from the Rocinante, but for the 1300 solar systems of the Dandelion Sky. PERSEPOLIS RISING saw the return of the Laconian Empire with their overwhelming technology and militaristic deconstruction of everything that humanity had built. They crushed all opposition, and it is into the aftermath of this dominion that our story truly begins.
The story comes through five main point of view characters:
Elvi Okoye we know from earlier books. She’s the lead scientist on a massive Laconian ship that is systematically visiting various galaxies for clues to the mystery of those that came before them, more of the vast technology that was left for humanity to find, or any trace of whatever killed them all. And it isn’t long before she finds a little of all of these.
Teresa Duarte is the lone fourteen year-old daughter of High Consul Winston Duarte, the long-lived, protomolecule-enhanced leader of the Laconian Empire. She’s living on Laconia, being tutored by the finest the empire has to offer, and yet still she is a teenager. She has a lot to learn this time around. From her father. From those that protect and surround her. From those she calls friends and those she might call enemies as well.
Naomi Nagata is a regular around these parts, but she’s suffering after the loss of Jim and the split of the remaining crew of the Rocinante. Amos is missing after a covert op fails. She and Bobbie have their differences in how the war against Laconia should be waged. She’s sequestered herself away and wants nothing more than to stop the war with as many words as it takes and as little violence as possible. But the universe doesn’t always give us what we want.
Bobbie Draper and Alex Kamal are both aboard a stolen Laconian flagship and share the time there between them. They’re trying to wage the war of violence that Naomi will not. They’re searching desperately for a way to cripple their Laconian overlords at best, and be a major annoyance at the very least. This is how Bobbie is built though, and Alex is one of the best pilots around.
Of the five, the only truly new character this time around was Teresa, and she was a great addition to the story. From her beginning with the very mundane concerns of who the boy she likes is kissing, to dealing with more about her father’s empire than she thought she might ever know, Teresa’s story is one that had me excited for more every time another of her chapters came around. Each of the characters in this story though are told with the detail and heart that I’ve come to expect from every story of The Expanse. If anything, this story is even more character-centric than those that have come before it. We spend a lot of time in the heads of the individual characters. But that is what I come into an Expanse novel wanting to read, so I thought it was great.
The team from the Rocinante has been spread across the galaxies, but they each search for a way back to their home and to be free from the Laconian Empire.
In some ways, this large amount of emphasis that is placed on the characters makes the story feel a little slow. It seemed to me that there were fewer actual events in the story that occurred than in previous novels. The trade-off is that those events, when they come, pack a much more powerful punch. Each of them is introduced, built up within their own context, and then it hits you in the face. I just kept finding myself impressed over and over by how well the story was structured and presented. Never once did I feel like I’d been left in the dark or that anything was left unclear. Don’t let that make you think I’m enjoying the structure over the actual story though. I got pulled in by the storytelling every single time, and then once I’d come up for air I made the realizations about how everything was put together. Such good stuff.
There were a couple times when I thought that a little more time could have been spent handling particular situations. When it just felt… fast, for lack of a better term. Like I said, nothing that made it unclear what was happening. Just that it hadn’t been handled with as deft a touch as so much of the writing in this and other books by the authors had been handled. But really, if that’s the biggest complaint I had about the book (and it is), then they’re doing a pretty great job indeed.
It’ll be super interesting to see the end of this series. It has been one of my favorites from the very first time I was introduced to it. Knowing what I do about the pair of authors, I’m wondering if they’ll continue to write more after this, or if they’ll be done with the “dynamic duo” bit for a bit. If Ty will write his own stuff. Whatever it is, I’m super excited to see it come, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The only other piece of this review that I feel I need to include is an apology to all of the people that I may have come into contact with while I was busy reading this book. Whether I interrupted them as I burst into laughter at the grocery store, or ignored them as I passed by them on the street, or if I made them wonder for a while as I sat at a table bent over my Kindle, holding my head and silently weeping. If you thought me odd or silly or full of geek, I’ll gladly take any of those. Just know that I was reading a great story. One that has affected me and brought feeling into my life and imagination that so few books these days tend to do. If you’re looking for a great read, you might just want to pick this one up. Just be sure you start at the beginning, if you choose to take this ride. Also, for those of you that are already fans, make sure you read the novella STRANGE DOGS (EBR Review) before you read this one, as what you learn there comes into play pretty strongly in this tale.
This will definitely be one of my favorite reads of the year. I await the final chapter with both fear and anticipation. Until next time.
- Recommended Age: 15+
- Language: Strong but relatively infrequent
- Violence: Mostly implicit personal violence and/or large-scale destruction
- Sex: A few mild references