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Babylon's Ashes

Book Six of the Expanse
Narrated by: Jefferson Mays
Series: The Expanse, Book 6
Length: 19 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (1,662 ratings)

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Summary

A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy - a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships - has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets.

The colony ships heading for the 1,000 new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them. James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone.

Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network. But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun.

As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

©2016 James S. A. Corey (P)2016 Little Brown Book Group

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Filler?

I really enjoyed the first few books of this series, but recently it seems to be going downhill. This book continues with the 'Free Navy' saga that began in the last book, but it strikes me as a long, and drawn out filler portion of the wider arc. There is very little advancement of the overall plot, and everything covered in this book and the last should really have been condensed to a singular book at most. Also, the 'atrocity' of the attack on Earth from the previous book is massively downplayed, and it comes across as odd that there doesn't seem to be much of an emotional response about it from the characters.

As a final note, this may be because I have had some time away from the series and have forgotten the nuances of the writers' style; but I hope you like metaphors, because this book puts metaphors in your metaphors, so you can metaphor while you metaphor.

3 people found this helpful

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Great performance

I really enjoyed book 6. The plot is expansive and nail biting at times. The book is beautifully read by Jefferson Mays. Thank you for bringing him back again to read it.

3 people found this helpful

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Another winner! 5 stars all the way

I love and adore this series. Not a committed fan of science fiction I have surprised myself by devouring all the books (Cibola Burns I had to read as opposed to listen to tho'). And this one absolutely delivers. I think what attracts me so much to these novels is character development and evolution and a really thoughtful and original plot, as well as a society which echoes political and socio-economic factions that are all around us, I can relate to these people. They might be fighting in spaceships miles above our heads, but they're waging the same sorts of wars. The intense humanness is what keeps me reading, and the great writing of course.

Of course, now that I've watched Season 1 of The Expanse their faces are fixed in my head as the tv characters, but mostly that's ok. Jefferson Mays he is the perfect narrator, every nuance, every tiny inflection comes through.

Brilliant.

ps Audible - will you finance re-recording Cibola Burns with Jefferson Mays? Nothing against Erik Davies, it's just that his narration is not as suited to the series as JM, it spoils an otherwise brilliant run of books.

5 people found this helpful

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Damn. I've finished them!

This is last of the books in The Expanse series, and I've grown to love them more as I've progressed through them. The characters are complex and interesting, the scope is sweeping, and there's wit as well as drama, psychological insight as well as action. All six books are entirely satisfying.

This series is as free from gender bias as anything I've ever read. That two men can write a character like Avasarala - an old, sweary, powerful Indian woman - is impressive. Age, sex, race and sexuality are all incorporated into these books as unremarkable facts of life. They do not determine whether someone is a soldier, a politician, an engineer, a priest or a doctor. These authors write about People.

The book is well read. The voices of all the characters are consistent and evocative, and Maya's rendering of the Belter patois is excellent.

The overall message of this series is humane and tender and timely, but it is conveyed in riveting stories, and through characters it's easy to fall in love with.

1 person found this helpful

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Complete change of pace... dead slow ahead.

What disappointed you about Babylon's Ashes?

The pacing was slow, predictable and repetitive.
The villain was just unbelievable. Every time Inaros started going off on one about his righteousness, I just wanted to yell "But you killed billions of people". What's worse, other characters supported him. Even with the differences between the belt and Earth, I refuse to believe that people would support someone who orchestrated genocide. I like my villains to at least be believable.
Plus the author seemed to completely forget about Amos half way through the book... he just disappeared and the re-appeared towards the end of the story. Very little exploration of Clarissa being on board the Rocinante aside from some thrown in angst that Jim just gets over between heartbeats.
Bearing in mind how much time the book spends building up the bad guy, the ending was anticlimactic at best.

What will your next listen be?

I'm invested in the Expanse series so shall listen to the next one. I just pray it'll be less dull than this dirge.
Until then, moving on to We Are Legion (We Are Bob) - which so far is excellent.

Have you listened to any of Jefferson Mays’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Mays was on form as always. I have no complaints about his excellent performance.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Babylon's Ashes?

Pretty much anything with Inaros would be cut - leaving him as some faceless entity causing terror. The Philip story was tedious and predictible and so would be mostly axed.
In short, by the time I finished editing this novel it'd be a short story.

Any additional comments?

In all honesty, I think you could skip this book entirely and go straight to the next one with little or no continuity issues.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Bring on the next one

Another great installment of the Expanse series. I've been waiting for it for a while now and enjoyed it thoroughly, but sad it's already over. just going to have to wait again now.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Expansive but not explosive

For me, The Expanse has been a series of very highs and very lows. The very high’s being books such as Caliban’s War and Cibola Burn. The very lows being Abaddon’s Gate. Babylon’s Ashes sits somewhere uncomfortably in the middle.

It’s not a bad book and I’d rarely speak it in the same paragraph as Abaddon’s Gate (I prefer to just not think of that one), but it’s not the best in this series either. Not by far. As a whole, the story is pretty good. The characters drive this way more than the story seems to, however. Fortunately, it’s populated with awesome characters. Unfortunately, it’s populated with far too many as main point of view characters. Standard form for an Expanse novel seems to be four POV characters. Babylon’s Ashes easily doubles that number and, although one or two extra are needed to a degree, some of them are just re-hashing what’s happened with other characters and felt too much like they were there for the main purpose of padding out the book.

The story itself, as I mentioned, is good. It’s just not exciting. In fact, I don’t think it was ever in danger of being that exciting from start to finish. Perhaps the best way to describe it is a more conservative story than an explosive one. The lack of excitement is made up by the fact that A LOT of important things happen that you just know will have a massive bearing on the story going forward. Certain moments I feel could have been more dynamic and gone out with a bit more of a bang than the quiet whimper we were given, but the fact that these things happened is massive as far as the Expanse universe is concerned. That sounds a tad contradictive, but it’s less explosive action and a lot more political moving and shaking.

So, although it sounds more negative than positive, this book still gets a four out of five from me due to how much it puts into the over-arching story that’s being told. It also has Avasarala being Avasarala, which is enough to keep me interested most of the time.

I can only hope the next book benefits from the mass amounts of stuff happening in this one in the same way Cibola Burn did from Abaddon’s Gate. Really looking forward to seeing what happens next.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Best in the series so far

I'm ploughing through all the audiobooks in this series and this was my favourite so far. It's a long one but it kept me captivated and absorbed for the entire journey. Well written, beautifully adapted and expertly read. I found myself smirking at the character observations, predicting characters' next moves and voicing opinions like a judgemental parent on decisions and consequences. That's when I know I'm hooked!

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how to survive lockdown. listen to the Expanse

i am so enjoying the Expanse books and dreading a return to the reality if Coronavirus. excellent story telling, plotting and characterisation ... a real tour de force. prefer the audiobooks to paper. not sure why. must be the reader!

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Just can't stop listening..!

Truly love this series and the performance is outstanding. Straight onto book seven. Cant wait to see where we go..!

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  • Bert Heymans
  • 28-12-16

This time around the story just stalls

What disappointed you about Babylon's Ashes?

There are plot holes and the way characters behave is really weird. Nobody appears to be really angry/hurt/traumatised about the attack on earth. That just doesn't make sense. The story went nowhere this time. It feels like the authors are stalling.

What was most disappointing about James S. A. Corey’s story?

I was missing all the ingredients that make The Expanse a great series for me, like a good Holden story (he feels left out this time), great action writing (too sparse) and alien stuff/new worlds/new technologies/mysterie development.

The space battles where OK, Bobby was OK, the Prax and Vandercaust bits where good, but it fails to save the book for me.

What didn’t you like about Jefferson Mays’s performance?

He has a nice and consistent voice to listen to, but he's not my favourite. Some of the Belter slang is weird to listen to, it's supposed to sound foreign but the way Jefferson May pronounces them is weird. I didn't recognise the German or Dutch in it for instance. It must have been really hard to do, reading a boring story with characters speaking a self-invented language half of the time.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Babylon's Ashes?

We got even more Marko this time (the blandest villain character ever), a meek Avasarala (!) and boring details about the struggles of Micio Pa. I would have cut a lot, if not most of it.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Ales Drobek
  • 21-10-18

A new height of dragging the story

A few genuinely great space opera pearls drowned in mountains of padding. I've seen my share of this tactic but the Expanse authors mastered it to an absolute perfection.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-09-17

Anti-climactic end

Amazing characters, but the ending wasn't that good. It was too abrupt and ambiguous I think.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Siert
  • 13-01-17

Touching

These books are incredibly well written. It makes you part of the crew of the roci in a way few writers are able to.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Erik
  • 17-12-16

Awesome! Just awesome!

James S. A. Corey is back and better than ever. The authors are changing their narrative style a little by telling the story from every relevant angle making this a complex but very exciting story! Everything we love about the expanse and a little more.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Henri
  • 06-03-20

Invisible pieces falling together leaving a mark

Possibly my least favorite book in the series, but this is expanse so it's still onw of the greatest books, things don't happen because they are the main characters but because they are the people they are doing their best in these situations

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Rasmus
  • 09-10-19

Can't listen anymore

The whole setup for the plot from the last book was so infuriatingly bad it tainted everything about this book and then the characters become war profiteers all of the sudden. No thanks.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-04-19

addicted

started on book one and became instant addicted to the books :) listen to them or read it is on my top 3 list off books

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Johan Karlsteen
  • 19-02-19

Awesome as always

I just can't stop listening to this series and I dread for the day when the last book is released.

Story is obviously taking place in the same universe as the previous books but this time centered around Earth, Mars and the belt. We learn a lot more about the back story of the main characters while they are all on their separate journeys for the first part of the book.

I liked it even though you can kind of guess the ending quite early.

On to the next one!

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • CoolHand
  • 03-08-18

Rocinante jousting against the human condition

this is what scifi is meant for: to tell better stories expose the human condition and offer a glimmer of hope that perhaps we can achieve a future. both science and tech are lights that expose where we stand as a civilisation and as what as a collective our choices could be.
while this book follows closely in the footpath of the series it is perfect as a sequel to nemsis games but outshines it as a thought provoking examination of our understanding the terror of freedom.
if you are looking for gripping stuff then read book 1 and 2 for pure joy of scifi by authors who have come to know their characters and understand the full impact of the tech books 3 and 4. this book, 6th is the jewel of the series but cannot be separated from 5. so perhaps 5 and 6 are a super book.
the great thing here is the consistency of Jonathan Mays as the narrator. his performance and the production again set the high water mark.