Tiamats Wrath by James S.A. Corey – A Book Review

Tiamats Wrath is the penultimate novel in the exceptional Expanse series of novels, which most will know has been made into an excellent TV series.

As nearly the last book of the planned run one would assume that this book was a rip roaring adventure setting up for a final showdown but no. This book was strangely lacklustre and for me at least difficult to read, and I will explain why.

The heart of the story to this point which is a sprawling space opera saga was the focus on the little person. Everything we saw happening was viewed through the prism of four down to Earth characters. There is obviously a large supporting cast of Fred Johnson and the amazing Avasarala but these have always been in the background letting our heroes show us what is going on.

The fifth member of the crew is of course their ship, the Rocinante. It doesn’t have the same sense of character as say the Enterprise or the Galactica but it is their home and it is missed in this book, and here lies the problem for nearly its entirety the Roci is in mothballs and all four leads are seperated.

The action is good, the set piece well realised. Corey always manages to make realistic space combat and intriguing characters but this isn’t enough. One cannot help the authors are writing a cinematic novel for them to later film rather than sticking with the narrative.

The majority of this book explores the new Empire that has risen after the demise of Earth and the change in the OPA’s influence. They explore well how the ring gate systems have changed the dynamics but the structure of the Laconian Empire seemed too quickly built. A lot of the realistic world building of earlier seasons is rushed and this is evident.

Interesting things do happen, the sub plot with Amos is intriguing but unsatisfactorily handled and the looming threat of the aliens through the gate is relegated to a secondary plot when who they are and what they want is much more interesting than the banal ambitions of a nascent empire. Things are setup now for all these answers in the final novel but I can’t help feeling this series should have finished last book and the series be relaunched with a new cast of characters to explore the now forever changed galaxy.

It may seem I have been overly negative but this is only because my expectation are so high. The book is a solid sci fi read dealing with the human condition however as an entry into the Expanse series of novels it does not come close to some of the earlier entries. I continue to look forward to the finale and hope Corey manages to give Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex are given the send off they and we deserve.

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