Caliban's War


James S. A. Corey's Leviathan Wakes was one of my favorite reads of 2011 and I was eager to sink my teeth into its sequel! Sadly, there was a screw-up at Orbit and not only did I never receive an Advance Reading Copy, but I never got a review copy of the novel. It took a while for me to sort everything out, which is why this review of Caliban's War was so late in coming.

Understandably, Leviathan Wakes raised my expectations through the roof for this one, and I wasn't sure if this second volume could live up to its predecessor's potential. Well, I'm glad to report that Caliban's War is everything that Leviathan Wakes was and then some! Too bad Daniel Abraham is so fond of those letter-filled pseudonyms, for The Expanse series could well be his signature work. James S. A. Corey means nothing, and it should read Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck on the cover. These guys deserve all the kudos they can get for coming up with such an awesome series. I have a feeling that Ty Franck won't only be known as George R. R. Martin's assistant for much longer. . .

Here's the blurb:

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
.

The worldbuilding was once again one of my favorite facets of this book. The political struggles between Earth, Mars, and the Belt, are at the heart of the story. Once more, I loved how Abraham and Franck handled the political aspects of the various plotlines, as well as the repercussions the politicking generates in the greater scheme of things. I would have liked to discover more about the protomolecule and what was transpiring on Venus, but I have a feeling that the authors needed to lay a lot of groundwork to pave the way for the third installment, Abaddon's Gate.

The stakes are higher than in the first volume, yet Caliban's War is not as sprawling a novel as Leviathan Wakes turned out to be. Which probably has a lot to do with the fact that the events occurring on Venus mostly take place "backstage." The better part of the novel has to do with various players trying to prevent interplanetary war between the forces from Earth and Mars. And yet, even though this book offers a tighter focus in terms of storylines, there is no question that this is a multilayered and complex science fiction tale.

As was the case in the first volume, some plotlines that seemed a bit out of place at the beginning all of a sudden become pivotal as the plot continues to move forward. It's another complex novel and it takes a while for the story to finally make sense. But when it finally does, Caliban's War becomes an even more compulsive page-turner!

The characterization was "top notch." In Leviathan Wakes, do-gooder Holden and disillusioned cop Miller created a wonderful balance of points of view, and I felt that the authors did a great job of playing one against the other. And although Holden is back as a POV character in Caliban's War, the rest of the POV protagonists are new faces. I wasn't sure about Gunnery Sergeant Roberta Draper and Chrisjen Avasarala, UN assistant to the undersecretary of executive administration, but both rapidly grow and you and their points of view add a few more layers to a tale that already echoes with depth. On the other hand, Praxidike Meng's POV isn't as engaging or endearing. But most of the sequences he appears in feature Holden's crew and it's nice to have them back.

I felt that Caliban's War was better paced than its predecessor and there is not a dull moment from start to finish! Somehow, this second installment raises the bar even higher. The ending, in particular, makes it impossible not to line up to read Abaddon's Gate the minute it comes out!

Caliban's War is definitely one of the SFF titles to read this year!

Believe you me: Space opera doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe.

22 commentaires:

Paul Weimer said...

Sadly, there was a screw-up at Orbit and not only did I never receive an Advance Reading Copy, but I never got a review copy of the novel. It took a while for me to sort everything out, which is why this review of Caliban's War was so late in coming.


Hmm. I have to get many of my books the old fashioned way. The hazards of being an independent reviewer. I don't think you need to apologize for the review lateness--or are you angry, Pat?

Aidan Moher said...

Pat,

I don' think they sent out review copies of Caliban's War to anyone. Instead, you could have purchased yourself a copy months ago when it was released, or picked a copy up at the library.

The book itself sounds great, though. Lots of great reviews around, and I really enjoyed LW and 'Gods of Risk,' the novella related to the series. I really should stop saving this for a rainy day and just read the damn thing!

RobB said...

"Sadly, there was a screw-up at Orbit and not only did I never receive an Advance Reading Copy, but I never got a review copy of the novel. It took a while for me to sort everything out, which is why this review of Caliban's War was so late in coming."

Why in the world is this even part of the review? It says nothing of value about the book itself. Rather, it comes across as if you are whining about being "owed" a copy of the book and are admonishing the publisher for not sending you one...in public.

Patrick said...

No, I'm not angry at Orbit or anything like that. When we realized that they hadn't sent me an ARC, it was already too late and the finished copies were coming in a few weeks later.

It can take up to 6 weeks for a package from NYC to reach me in MTL, so when I left for Asia I thought that the book would be waiting for me when I got back.

And when I returned from Turkey and realized that there was no sign of it, the folks at Orbit promptly put a copy of the book in the mail for me.

Given how much I had enjoyed LW and how much I was looking forward to reading its sequel, a lot of people started asking me about a review as early as March or April. And then asked again when the book came out. And kept asking afterward. So this ain't no vendetta against Orbit; just an explanation as to why it took so long for me to review this fine novel.

Some of you guys extrapolate way too much and seem to always put a negative spin on what I write...

Chill out! :P

RobB said...

Whether you are angry or not, Pat, you basically call out Orbit and attack them in your opening paragraph. The negativity starts with your opening paragraph, what other way is there to infer screw-up at Orbit.

Such musings should not be aired out in the open, especially not in a review.

We all get enough free books, if you were that interested in reading the book, you could have purchased it for a few bucks saved the time and avoided this mystical "lateness" to which you allude.

amysrevenge said...

I really loved the Avasarala POV. I listened to the audiobook, and the reader did a wonderful job with her voice.

Anonymous said...

Ever heard the phrase "humble brag" ? Even your justification is laced with them... don't worry, it's just your personality. you can't help it. It's bloody obvious to the rest of the world, but we still love ya' Pat.

Laura said...

I guess this also explains why I never received the copy I "won" here. Will I ever?

Anonymous said...

The silly PC police at it again... :/

Rave review that makes me want to read this book, but all some people can focus on is a bit of nitpicking. :(

Long live the blogosphere!

Patrick said...

Laura,

Sorry about that... Let me check with the folks at Orbit and see if we can hook you up with your prize copy ASAP...

Shane said...

Taking shots at Pat seems to have become some people's favorite hobby. I agree this PC crap overshadows what is a very positive review of an awesome book.

sffbookreview said...

@Shane: Isn't it more Pat's first paragraph that overshadows the great review?

When you start reading this post, all you see is "Orbit screwed up and I didn't get my free book!"
It's not about attacking Pat personally, he can feel annoyed by a promised book that never arrives. But what does it have to do with the review? It's not helpful or pertaining to the text as such.

I think people are just trying to give feedback in whichever way they find appropriate. What's wrong with that?

Shane (No relation to previous poster...) said...

I guess I'm in the minority that took Pat's comments in the spirit he intended and read the rest of the review without ever thinking anything negative or that he had a grudge against Orbit until I came back later and saw all the comments.

Anonymous said...

You guys are too hyper-sensitive. Why would anyone pay for a book that they could get for free? You wouldn't, no one would, and yet how many comments do we have complaining about it?

Anonymous said...

What the fuck does PC-ness have to do with any of this? Is this going to be your default argument whenever someone disagrees with Pat on something?

I have paid for books that I'd gotten a free copy of. If I enjoy the book that much, then a review is just not enough to support the author. Several of the people who've posted in this thread have more than likely done the same. Just because you can get something for free, because you have gotten something for free, doesn't mean you won't want to shell out some cash for the finished product.

Anonymous said...

Well, well, well... I'm not surprised that the anti-Pat squad got upset with the first paragraph of this review. Funny how anyone would pay more attention to that paragraph when there is only one sentence that matters:

"Believe you me: Space opera doesn't get much better than this!"

I think Orbit must be pretty happy about that!

Luc

Bryce said...

Have you read the piece on you on Staffer's book reviews and the comments there? They make it sound like you're a child molester!

Caliban's War is great! Glad you liked it!!!

Laura said...

Pat - Thanks for looking into it for me!

Jon said...

Am I the only guy that skipped to the end and read:

"Caliban's War is definitely one of the SFF titles to read this year! Believe you me: Space opera doesn't get much better than this!

The final verdict: 9/10"

I don't think Orbit is going to complain too much about that.

Also, these fueds are better than wrestling! I'm seeing a couple blogs that I've un-bookmarked represented here.

Shadowthrone said...

I Think Justin From
Staffer's Book Review

should apologize to pat. i mean it's darn ironic. he faults Pat for publicly criticizing Orbit and then goes on to publish a post on his blog accusing Pat of Entitlement and what not. Justin, dude, if you got a problem with what pat had wrote, message him PRIVATELY. instead you are acting like an old woman with a new bit of juicy gossip. it just shows how much you envy Pat and the success of his blog. Grow up, man.

Anonymous said...

Wow you're a whiny bitch aren't you? WAH WAH I didn't get my free copy of a book.

Laura said...

Pat - Got my copy today! Thanks again to you and to Orbit for having the giveaway.