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Book Review by Tiamat’s Wrath by James S.A. Corey

Tiamat's Wrath by James S.A. Corey

Title: Tiamat’s Wrath

Author: James S.A. Corey

Series: Expanse #8

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 5/5 stars!! (you heard me.)

The Overview: Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper. In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess. And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose – seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough… –Goodreads

The Review:

I can’t remember the last time I actually yelled at a book.

Coming back to this series felt like embracing family after being gone a few years… like coming home. In my mind, these characters are real people. Their development is so on-point, I always feel their triumphs and defeats poignantly. These authors are brilliant. And I have to say, they really set out to shred my soul with Tiamat’s Wrath. Holy shit.

Truth be told, I’ve been really apathetic lately with books. This is the first novel in a loooong while to evoke a reaction from me. To the point where, yes, I yelled when a few things happened and may or may not have sobbed at one point. I read so much, that kind of emotional investment only comes along once in a blue moon. And it’s these types of books I save my solid 5-star ratings for. Before Tiamat’s Wrath, I hadn’t handed out one since last July. O_o

This book was amazing. It may not have had a lot of action or moving parts, but the depth of character immersion and overall plot advancement was phenomenal. Every moment counted. Every conversation important. Every action riveting. It’s in close competition with Nemesis Games as my favorite of the series. They’re kind of hard to compare though – that one had a ton of moving parts and grand, epic events that blow your mind with the shear scale and implications of it all. This one was much more understated – an emotional roller coaster of internal turmoil that drew you in because of the human element. It was a slow burn, but every moment was fire… at least to me.

They’re definitely gearing up for a finale, and I think it’s going to be a fucking monster. Tiamat’s left me poised on the edge of a cliff, and if I could jump into a freefall right this moment to see what happens next, I wouldn’t hesitate. This is one of those anticipated series finales we’ll all have to cancel plans for… grab some tissues and maybe one of those squishy stress ball thingies and seclude ourselves in quiet corners and wait for all hell to break loose… then deal with the agony of it ending. Needless to say, I have a lot of expectations riding on the final novel, but I’m so confident in these authors that I’m truly not worried (just stressed at what they’re going to do to me).

Series status: highest priority sci-fi… omg gimmie the final novel!!!

Recommendations: if you have ANY interest in the space opera genre, there’s no better place to start than The Expanse series. It will take you on a wild ride, gut-punching you all the while… it’s awesome lol. If you haven’t checked out the novellas by this point in the series, you might want to pick up Strange Dogs before diving in (although I found merit in all of them, so consider that an endorsement). Overall, this is my first pick whenever someone wants an exciting, character-driven series. And if anything, my opinions of it have only gotten stronger with each installment.

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by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey

8855321Title: Leviathan Wakes

Author: James S. A. Corey

Series: Expanse #1

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 5/5 stars!

The Overview: Humanity has colonized the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond – but the stars are still out of our reach. Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, “The Scopuli,” they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for – and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why. Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to “The Scopuli” and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything. Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations – and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

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 The Review:

I want to thank these authors for rekindling my love for science fiction (yes, I said authors, see below)! Everything about this story had me frantically turning the pages to see what happened next. I haven’t been this excited about a sci-fi series since I picked up Aguirre’s Grimspace a couple of years ago. And you know what? I really missed it! There’s nothing like diving into the universe to give you that ultimate feel of adventure!

And adventurous it was – on a galactic scale (okay, maybe only on a solar system scale… It just doesn’t sound as cool). And it was a smart book – plenty of complexity, with interwoven plots that were just enough to keep me guessing but not so much that it was confusing. A book that is dynamic and well planned out gets my vote every time – and I probably appreciated the most because it’s something I don’t feel I could ever do in my own writing.

Another thing I loved about this book was characterization. I’ve been really lucky lately because I’ve picked up tons of books with exceptional characters (which means I’ve had some of the best reading in my life recently). Characters make or break books for me – I can put up with a lot of faults, but if I don’t like the people, I most likely won’t like the book. Leviathan Wakes had so many fantastic characters that I’d be hard-pressed to tell you which one I liked the most. Even the minor ones who only got a few pages were memorable… it blows my mind.

So far, I’ve mentioned great plot structure and characters, but I don’t think I’d be raving about the book as much if they hadn’t been combined with such killer pacing. Every moments was exciting and stressful… in a good way. It’s the type of exhilarating read that gets the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping – I had to stop reading it before bed because it took me from drowsy to wide awake after only a few pages. It never slowed down, either. The whole book was just one big snowball ride all the way to the end!

Very few books max out my awesomeness scale in every category, but this one managed! It’s the perfect mix of science fiction, mystery, and romance (on a minor scale), and has turned me into an adoring fan of “space opera.” What’s more, after reading Leviathan Wakes, I discovered the author’s name is actually a pen for two collaborative writers: Daniel Abraham (who has quickly become one of my favorite new-generation fantasy authors with his Long Price Quartet series) and Ty Franck (who I’m told did some ghostwriting work for George R.R. Martin). I don’t know if it’s possible, but this discovery makes me love the book even more!

Recommended Reading: for any science-fiction lover (or for that matter, for anybody looking to give sic-fi a try). This book is also perfect for anyone looking for an exhilarating read – one that’s impossible to put down!

by Niki Hawkes

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