Tiamat’s Wrath, the eighth book in The Expanse series picks up decades after the events in Persepolis Rising. Laconia is in control. The protomolecule gives Laconia an edge over everyone else in terms of technology. How will the crew of the Rocinante overcome these odds? The ship is mothballed. Bobbie Draper commands her own ship with Alex as the pilot. Holden is locked up. Amos is MIA. And, Naomi is in the role of strategist for the resistance while living the life of a hermit in hidden cargo containers.
What the James Corey duo does so well is drastically changing the landscape. The narrative isn’t a simple cause and effect where conflict is resolved back into a satisfactory state. The writers knock over the game board to the point where the conflict doesn’t matter to the characters and now there’s a new situation that needs to be met. How the characters adapt, survive and meet these challenges keep the reader hooked.
It’s hard to write about Tiamat’s Wrath without giving things away. As the situation changed in Persepolis Rising so it changes again by the end of Tiamat’s Wrath. Will humanity unite against an outside threat or tear themselves to pieces while the threat goes unchecked?
A few things I loved in this book were the re-introduction of Elvi and making her a strong character instead of her awful portrayal in Cibola Burn. In Tiamat’s Wrath she is smart, driven, humane and forceful. Also, the transformation of Naomi Ngata to the leader of the resistance was great. We see her dealing with some of things Holden used to deal with in terms of how she is perceived. What’s real and what’s myth?
I also really liked the inner-workings of Laconia through Teresa’s and Elvi’s perspectives. We see the leaders of Laconia slightly off perspective. The monsters are humanized, at least most of them. It made me think of Hitler’s inner circle. As the tension mounts how will these characters react? What will the Empire do? Who is the Empire?
As for the deaths, I’m good with them. If a beloved character dies for no reason, it kind of sucks. If a beloved character dies and it creates an interesting change in the other characters or moves the story, then it sucks far less. This isn’t a spoiler, because it’s the first sentence of the book. “Chrisjen Avasarala was dead.” But, there also wasn’t really a place for her in this novel. Holden needed to evolve. Bobbie needed to step up. What could Avasarala really do against Laconia as the aged and former ruler of Earth? Instead, we see how Laconia uses her death and re-writes history.
As for the other death, it’s been a long time coming. Get over it, people.
Tiamat’s Wrath is the penultimate book in The Expanse. The characters are in position for what happens next. My money is on humanity becoming protomolecule hybrids. As in previous books, it would up-end the game board in a way that might be unexpected and leave the door open for more narratives in this universe.