Oh, well, this will be a difficult review to write, I guess. I really like this series and its ideas, its wonderful characters, the brilliant writing, etc. etc.
Along came “Cibola Burn”: We find ourselves accompanying Holden and his crew through one of the rings into the great unknown – into which a band of settlers from Ganymede made it before him and pretty much started colonising the planet, Ilus, there.
Unfortunately for those pioneers, the UN has awarded the “Royal Charter Energy” (RCE), a big Earth corporation, the rights to the afore-mentioned planet – which they refer to as “New Terra”. When RCE tries to get a shuttle down to the planet, it gets blown up by the settlers.
Holden is sent to Ilus/New Terra to mediate between the settlers and the RCE guys, only to get caught between both of them.
This leads us into a long story about the conflict between the settlers and the RCE people, the “awakening” of the stuff the protomolecule’s creators left on the planet, a catastrophic disaster, Miller investigating and, again, leading Holden around. There’s sabotage in space and on the planet, a one-dimensional villain whom Amos would have shot on the spot in the previous books and a scientist whom Corey makes fall for Holden – right until she gets laid by someone else and finds out that guy’s the real love of her life… Not to mention episodes about “death slugs”, eye-infecting parasites and lots of other “filling materials”.
All this just plain made this entire book way too long for its own good. While there was still a lot of suspense, long stretches of describing the atmosphere on the planet after a disaster kept boring me.
Last but not least, apart from Holden himself, the entire crew of the Rocinante was somehow not themselves – Alex felt mostly absent, Amos was weirdly subdued, almost completely submissive to Holden and Naomi spends weeks in a brig which we get to witness for far too long.
I’m going to take a break from “The Expanse” in favour of another book or two.