Caliban’s War

Simply put, Caliban’s War is a masterful piece of science fiction. Authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (aka James S.A. Corey) weave together elements of horror, mystery, character drama and space epic into a wonderful journey. As the second book in the series, readers would be remiss to dive into this one without first checking out Leviathan Wakes, but it’s worth knowing that a great book awaits them. Whether you’re new to the series or not, I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free.

In Caliban’s War, Jim Holden and his colorful crew go off on another adventure visiting strange worlds and devious opponents. In fact the core of the plot is very similar to the one in Leviathan Wakes. Instead of running into the relentlessly motivated detective Miller tracking down a missing daughter, they run into a botanist named Prax who has lost his daughter. Finding the missing girl is no easy task, though, and it leads them to several worlds and many dangerous encounters. There’s elements of mystery as they track down clues, as well as action when they’re confronted with roadblocks. Prax isn’t the only new character, however.

Another important story thread is explored through Martian marine Roberta “Bobbie” Draper. Led away from her post on Granymeade, she winds up with a powerful Earth politician named Avasarala. Their tale involves a lot of politics, but it’s done well. There is a sense of intrigue and enough clarity that I was able to keep up with what was going on without being bogged down by complicated politics. It’s also a necessary part of the story as the politics shows how the larger gears of the solar system are turning.

One thing I love about the story is how it blends together mystery and horror. In science fiction stories, there’s often a lot of focus on the science. Some sci-fi stories focus more on the characters and trend toward a fantasy genre. Yet with this series, and Caliban’s War in particular, there’s a lot of mystery and horror. The characters are driven by the mystery elements as they’re forced to unravel questions. Who took Prax’s daughter? Where did they take her? Why did the take her? That journey creates a lot of suspense and intrigue. I constantly found myself propelled forward, page after page, awaiting the answers. On top of that, there are elements of horror which fit perfectly with the suspense and intrigue, enhancing both to climatic levels. As introduced in the first book of the series, there’s an alien technology known as the protomolecule which has an intelligence of its own. The protomolecule can reshape things to its own purpose, a purpose that is shrouded in mystery. But the protomolecule has no regard for other lifeforms and will mercilessly destroy other life in order to reshape it. Early in the book, the protomolecule shows up on Granymeade. Somehow it ties to Prax’s missing daughter, and as the story develops, in raises more questions. More intrigue, more suspense and more mystery. Those driving elements help set Caliban’s War apart from other sci-fi books and make it an extremely enjoyable journey.

In comparison to Leviathan Wakes, the authors managed to capture the same magic and keep the momentum going. The story maintains a wonderfully rich set of characters who are plunged into a plot full of horror and mystery. It’s a story that’s easy to dive into. The prose is at times seductive and the pacing is carefully spread out over almost 600 pages. This is one of those books that’s hard to put down, plus it has a killer ending. I give it a superb five out of five metal bikinis.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

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