Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book manages to break my previous rule for this series that even-numbered books are better than odd-numbered ones, because it's really not much of an improvement over Nemesis Games. Instead, Babylon's Ashes manages to take the story threads its predecessor leaves us and focus on the least interesting, most procedural ones, and even manages to turn the military thriller elements surprisingly pedestrian. Of course, the real problem is that Nemesis Games ended with a pretty wild cliffhanger, and this book barely addresses said cliffhanger, leaving the whole plot thread about the ships vanishing through the ring gates dangling like fringe on some 70s-style jacket. I know the Corey team is planning as many as nine novels in this series, but really, at this point it feels like they're stretching it into so much textual taffy. At least this book has its highlights - such as Filip's involvement in the terroristic Free Navy (you can tell if they win, they'll become like the pigs in Animal Farm) and of course Avasarala continuing to be her usual foul-mouthed, venom-tongued self, and with a lot more involvement in the story (not just a voice and face on a screen) because it's an even-numbered book in the series, after all. At least I can now say I'm caught up on the series, with the seventh book pretty close at hand - and I hope the final third of the series really picks things up again. Like that story thread about the ships that keep vanishing.
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