Caliban’s War – James S.A. Corey

About the Book

We are not alone.

The alien protomolecule is clear evidence of an intelligence beyond human reckoning. No one knows what exactly is being built on Venus, but whatever it is, it is vast, powerful, and terrifying.

When a creature of unknown origin and seemingly impossible physiology attacks soldiers on Ganymede, the fragile balance of power in the Solar System shatters. Now, the race is on to discover if the protomolecule has escaped Venus, or if someone is building an army of super-soldiers.

Jim Holden is the center of it all. In spite of everything, he’s still the best man for the job to find out what happened on Ganymede. Either way, the protomolecule is loose and Holden must find a way to stop it before war engulfs the entire system.

CALIBAN’S WAR is an action-packed space adventure following in the footsteps of the critically acclaimed Leviathan Wakes.

595 pages (paperback)
Published on June 26, 2012
Published by Orbit
Author’s webpage

This book was provided for my review by the publisher.

You can purchase a copy of this book by clicking on the following links: Caliban’s War (The Expanse), Caliban’s War (The Expanse) – Kindle


I like this series so much it hurts. Leviathan Wakes left me burning for more and Caliban’s War delivers. Everything Leviathan Wakes hinted at was brought to the reader in Caliban’s War. The universe expands, the plot thickens, new characters are introduced and new planets are explored. In fact, Caliban’s War can best be described as an expansion on everything Levithan Wakes set the groundwork for.

Caliban’s War starts not too long after the events of Leviathan Wakes. While readers will be familiar with Holden and Naomi, most of this book is filled with new perspectives, like Bobbi, the career soldier who finds herself immersed in events from the start. There’s also Prax, and several others who vary in ranks in various societies throughout the universe.

The universe itself expands, and so does the conflicts within it. The plight of the Belters, especially those on Ganymede, is seen more clearly. The rivalry between Earth and Mars is explored in depth and we finally are introduced to a high ranking politician on Earth who helps readers see the differences between the two rival planets more clearly, as well as Bobbi, a native Martian. The varying perspectives from different social rankings and different places throughout the universe really serve to help the reader understand the social structure of Corey’s setting in a much more well-rounded way.

However, each character has been marked by their hard lives in some way or another. Holden is haunted by the ghost of Miller and the memory of the events that happened in Leviathan Wakes, as is his crew. Bobbi also is traumatized by an event that takes place early in the book. Prax is off kilter due to the loss of his daughter. In fact, every character is losing, or fighting something very personal and it’s obvious that these inner struggles color their perspective of what is happening around them, and also effects how they react in certain situations. While this can be frustrating at times, it is actually very well done and helps the readers believe that these characters truly are the everyday humans many of them claim to be.

It should be noted that while the cast does expand, there still aren’t so many people and perspectives that readers will get confused regarding who is who and what they are doing. Leviathan Wakes sets a wonderful foundation for some solid characters, which allows the authors to easily introduce new ones in this installment of the series without overwhelming anyone. Like any book, these new characters vary in believability. For example, Prax is torn apart by the loss of his daughter, but despite that fact, I found reading his sections to be incredibly boring. On the other hand, the government worker, Avarsarala, was dry, perpetually angry and absolutely hilarious, but I had a hard time someone that hard to work with would be in a position as high as hers as she completely lacked the capability for any form of diplomacy.

Prax himself was the largest problem for me. As I mentioned above, I found him to be just about as boring as his job description (growing beans on Ganymede). However, the real issue wasn’t the fact that he was boring, it was the problem that I felt that his chapters and Holden’s overlapped a bit too much. Some events felt like they were told to the reader twice, once from each person’s perspective. By the time Prax became interesting, and his own man, the book was far enough along that I didn’t care. While his story is important, many of his chapters could have been left out without any negative impact to the book.

Caliban’s War is quite long. In fact, it’s longer than Leviathan Wakes, but you might not notice that fact. The plot is so quick moving that the pages practically turn themselves. You might be surprised to find the book over far sooner than you expected it to be. While this is a wonderful trait for a book to possess, it’s incredibly frustrating for the fans out there (like myself) who have to wait (forever, it seems) for the next book in the series, especially after the slam-dunk, shocker ending like that.

In the end, this series is turning out to be epic Science Fiction. There are plenty of battles, love, loss, betrayal, confusion, surprise and so much more. With each installment the world just gets larger, more confusing and complex. While Caliban’s War answers some questions, it also brings new threats to the surface and promises that the universe and characters will be stretched even further in the next installment. I can hardly wait. This is one of those series that unfolds so vividly in my mind I almost wish someone would make a TV series out of it. Picture Game of Thrones, only in space.

Yes, it’s that epic.


4/5 stars

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