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Kalibear

TIAMAT'S WRATH - Book 8 of Expanse (SPOILERS)

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This book is, so far, fucking awesome. I hated the time jump in Persepolis, and I thought the older crew being older wasn't handled well, but so far it's handled far better. Naomi in particular is older and wiser and far more ruthless than before. The framing of Elvi visiting weird planets is amazing, and I wish we had had more of it; it's all the good parts of Cibola Burn in a far better package.

I do wish Avasarala had the prologue or something. Something to give us a goodbye for her more than other people seeing her funeral. Her epigraph got me tearful though. Great callback to Caliban's War. 

Edited by Kalbear

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Just finished.

It is fucking awesome. It even redeems some of persepolis rising. It is incredibly fast paced, ups the stakes like nothing other than perhaps leviathans wake, has some seriously amazing action bits and some of the better character beats they've done. 

Its surprising, interesting and spooky. It's great. 

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15 hours ago, Darth Richard II said:

I shouldn't even be looking in here since my book WAS INCORRECTLY SORTED BY UPS AND WONT BE HERE TIL THE END OF THE WEEK.

But good to know it's awesome.

It really is. Even the slow buildups that he does normally early on are awesome reading. I can't wait to talk it over. 

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1 hour ago, Darth Richard II said:

They've been in hardcover since book 4.

I've not seen that at all. Never anything other than the trade sozed paperback...that's what I have for 1-7...

Still picked it up. Not waiting on this one.

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Yeah they've been doing hardcover first since book 4 I think, but I've  been buying them all day 1 since the first.

Or maybe book 5...

or! I could go look they're all right here

 

Yeah since book 4.

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Hmmmm...I've never seen a hardcover on the shelves at the bookstores, or the library...ah well...

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Yeah this was awesome. I liked PR more than most and this really paid off a lot of that. I appreciated that it didn't go as grim as I feared it was going with Holden on Laconia - he's been traumatised enough by the protomolecule and I didn't need to see him confronted by the Pen.

It's also the fastest Dan has made me cry in a book and I know in part that's because Arjun has remained an open wound since NG so that epitaph was killer. Also got me with Bobbie, but the crew reflecting on it later acknowledging how perfect a death it was for her - going out as a Valkyrie attacking a battleship on her own and winning - gave me peace with it.

I was numb after Amos died as I really didn't expect that, but jumped to the repair drones before the numbness faded - I imagine that is going to hit harder if you haven't read the relevant novella.

I loved that the set up with the Tecoma star let me realise what was going to happen before the characters did, only to then have a bunch more cascade effects take me by complete surprise. I didn't see Duarte getting taken off the board like that either but it absolutely worked, as did the way Laconia fell so fast. As the book explicitly pointed out, the empire was based on confidence that it couldn't be challenged but that confidence was super fragile - the fall was inevitable after ring space went nova and the stakes for the Tempest were really about freeing Sol and speeding it all up.

The smaller, unspecified, time jump worked well here and I can't believe it took me until now to connect that with Dan having done the same thing in Long Price - upending the status quo and having the world change in between books is really really rare but clearly something that appeals to him.

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42 minutes ago, karaddin said:

 It's also the fastest Dan has made me cry in a book and I know in part that's because Arjun has remained an open wound since NG so that epitaph was killer.

Seriously, that was gorgeous and awesome and incredibly sad. I really do wish that she had been given one last chapter. 

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Also got me with Bobbie, but the crew reflecting on it later acknowledging how perfect a death it was for her - going out as a Valkyrie attacking a battleship on her own and winning - gave me peace with it.

They did a much better job with this. Bobbie had multiple PoV chapters, we understood her dilemma vs. Naomi, and she got to be a badass not because she personally needed to or because it was out of situational necessity, but because it was the mission. Contrast this with Clarissa last book, and it's night and day. 

Quote

 I was numb after Amos died as I really didn't expect that, but jumped to the repair drones before the numbness faded - I imagine that is going to hit harder if you haven't read the relevant novella. 

I accidentally got spoiled on that, so I was not dying on it. Also, this is the first book where I felt like they took the mannerisms of the actors and really pushed them in the book. Every time I heard Amos in my head it sounded like Wes Chatham, and every time Bobbie spoke it sounded like Frankie Adams. (not as much for Naomi). 

Also, fuck yes Naomi got to shine like a fucking rock star. She got a lot of lifting in Babylon's Ashes, but in this she really showcased how incredibly competent and awesome she was, while keeping her moral center. 

Quote

 I loved that the set up with the Tecoma star let me realise what was going to happen before the characters did, only to then have a bunch more cascade effects take me by complete surprise. 

Both the Tecoma system and the system with the diamond were amazing. I had no idea how much I had longed for Utter Weird Mega-architecture in Space until they did it, and I really hope we get more in book 9. That said - I'm not sure if Tecoma was a trap created by the protomolecule creators or the substrate creatures. I'm leaning towards the latter - a way that they could use the weird nonlocal event to their advantage and shoot massive energy into the slow zone as soon as it got triggered. 

Quote

I didn't see Duarte getting taken off the board like that either but it absolutely worked, as did the way Laconia fell so fast. As the book explicitly pointed out, the empire was based on confidence that it couldn't be challenged but that confidence was super fragile - the fall was inevitable after ring space went nova and the stakes for the Tempest were really about freeing Sol and speeding it all up.

The smaller, unspecified, time jump worked well here and I can't believe it took me until now to connect that with Dan having done the same thing in Long Price - upending the status quo and having the world change in between books is really really rare but clearly something that appeals to him.

Yeah, this time jump worked better, and this time we got a lot more of how the characters have changed since. We got more on Alex regretting his lack of family life and what that is doing for him, we got a lot more of Naomi being wiser and less prone to moral perfection, we got more of Bobbie maturing into her leadership role and what that means for her. We even got a bit of Holden being wiser and, well, fucking evil. I wish we had more of that in PR, but it worked well here. 

Duarte's dispatch of Cortazar was also incredibly awesome. 

And the last two lines of the book were chilling as hell. 

Edited by Kalbear

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11 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

1) Also, this is the first book where I felt like they took the mannerisms of the actors and really pushed them in the book. Every time I heard Amos in my head it sounded like Wes Chatham, and every time Bobbie spoke it sounded like Frankie Adams. (not as much for Naomi). 

2) Also, fuck yes Naomi got to shine like a fucking rock star. She got a lot of lifting in Babylon's Ashes, but in this she really showcased how incredibly competent and awesome she was, while keeping her moral center. 

3) That said - I'm not sure if Tecoma was a trap created by the protomolecule creators or the substrate creatures. I'm leaning towards the latter - a way that they could use the weird nonlocal event to their advantage and shoot massive energy into the slow zone as soon as it got triggered. 

4) We even got a bit of Holden being wiser and, well, fucking evil. I wish we had more of that in PR, but it worked well here. 

1) I wasn't sure if this was me or something that they were doing, but I definitely had this too. Strongest for Amos, maybe in part because his name wasn't being used so they wanted it to be really clear it was him, but still very much true for all of them. Really strong for Holden for me as well.

2) It was fantastic. She's shied away from stepping into the spot light before - the XO, the supporting role etc, but here she was forced to step up. Particularly loved her agreeing with Bobbie as the "this is the right play" confirmation. And the heart ache it gave her knowing she was probably sending friends to their death.

3) I really can't decide on this. We haven't seen the substrate aliens manipulate our universe in the way that could do what was done there, let alone have control of the gate to move the trap. But the result of the trap certainly seems to favor them - the massive burst of energy into the slow zone allows the only time we've seen them inside the slow zone - until then it seemed like a pocket universe they didn't have access to. I still favor it being the Romans that set the trap but it's looking like a real own goal.

4) Older, wiser, evil Holden really meshed with Steven Strait for me, so this ties back in with 1). I wonder if there's anything more to his mental construct of Avasarala than just being really alone. We got the bit from Cortazar about how neural pattern looks more like someone on hallucinogens - which I presume is due to ProtoMillers lingering effect on his brain. 

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18 minutes ago, karaddin said:

3) I really can't decide on this. We haven't seen the substrate aliens manipulate our universe in the way that could do what was done there, let alone have control of the gate to move the trap. But the result of the trap certainly seems to favor them - the massive burst of energy into the slow zone allows the only time we've seen them inside the slow zone - until then it seemed like a pocket universe they didn't have access to. I still favor it being the Romans that set the trap but it's looking like a real own goal.

 

Yeah, the trap hosed them, but I think that was something of a desperation move. Another one. Remember, as far as we know the creators never figured out how to beat the substrates and may never have figured out even what they were. They might have been trying things the same way Duarte was, figuring that they could use the gamma blast from the black hole (again, FUCKING COOL) to obliterate everything but save the slow zone, the same way that Duarte found out that a blast from the magnetar could shoot massive gamma blasts out of the portals too. They were desperate, but before they could trigger this particular trap they were obliterated. 

I also think it's really interesting that the revenants (Amos, Cara, Xan) don't experience the time loss like Duarte did, though I haven't got a theory as to what that means going forward. 

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It does seem pretty reasonable that for all their superior tech, the Romans may have had a harder time figuring out what was happening due to their unique vulnerability to the consciousness weapon. That could lead to some ineffectual flailing like the trap - I mean we also see them sending systems nova which I feel like the humans already know enough to figure out that's not going to work. The Goths don't exist in the same part of reality to be hurt like that.

I realise this is basically saying the same thing you had said, so yeah.

All I can guess regarding the Revenants vs Duarte is that the drones were trying to repair humans with superior parts, Cortazar was trying to improve on a human. And was also experimenting more than he told Duarte.

 

ETA: I'm guessing the Revenants are the key to reading data from the diamond archive though.

Edited by karaddin

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I think this was my favorite so far.  10/10

That being said, the only thing that kind of bugged me was Duarte, Illich, Trejo, all going along with the Prisoner's Dilemma model of teaching the architects about power.  I just can't see anyone being that fucking dumb.  If we want to use models like that for contacting a superior alien civilization, how about the model of poking a bear with a stick?  

And damn, I suspected what was going on with Amos as soon as all the repair dogs were present, but I was surprised at how much he seemed like Amos afterwards (especially in his convos on the roci with Holden).  It's been awhile since I read Strange Dogs and thought the kid was less obviously together.  

Bobbie's ending was epic.  Didn't expect her to die in this book but that was a hell of a way to go, and I think it was really well done.  

This installment really kicked the whole series up a notch.

 

Edited by larrytheimp

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I get the feeling that Amos being more or less a sociopath beforehand might have something to do with his lack of change aftewards.

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16 hours ago, larrytheimp said:

I think this was my favorite so far.  10/10

That being said, the only thing that kind of bugged me was Duarte, Illich, Trejo, all going along with the Prisoner's Dilemma model of teaching the architects about power.  I just can't see anyone being that fucking dumb.  If we want to use models like that for contacting a superior alien civilization, how about the model of poking a bear with a stick?  

The problem starts with Duarte. The prisoner's dilemma is basically how he approaches all of his detente, and has been since the beginning. Ilich and Trejo all go along with it because it is the core philosophy of Laconia - ruthless discipline, rational actors, reasons and metrics for everything. 

It's a dumb way to think about alien contact, but Duarte doesn't have the paradigm to think about it in any other way, and frames it the way he frames raising his daughter (which is also totally fucked). 

2 hours ago, Maltaran said:

I get the feeling that Amos being more or less a sociopath beforehand might have something to do with his lack of change aftewards.

Maybe? He's also a lot older than Cara and Xan, so that might make his patterns a bit more set and established. 

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48 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

The problem starts with Duarte. The prisoner's dilemma is basically how he approaches all of his detente, and has been since the beginning. Ilich and Trejo all go along with it because it is the core philosophy of Laconia - ruthless discipline, rational actors, reasons and metrics for everything. 

It's a dumb way to think about alien contact, but Duarte doesn't have the paradigm to think about it in any other way, and frames it the way he frames raising his daughter (which is also totally fucked). 

Maybe? He's also a lot older than Cara and Xan, so that might make his patterns a bit more set and established. 

I hear you.  I actually thought the prisoner's dilemma was really well done when you look at how it was laid out re: the architects, and then Elvi, Theresa, Monster Singh, and Holden each got to play it out.  I just couldn't see someone as smart as Duarte picking up this stuff created by someone obviously more powerful and intelligent, mickey-mousing it into something workable you still don't understand (magnetar and effects), and then still assume you're playing with an equal.  I guess that's the human part of it.

Edited by larrytheimp
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59 minutes ago, Kalbear said:

Maybe? He's also a lot older than Cara and Xan, so that might make his patterns a bit more set and established. 

The drones may be getting more effective with practice as well.  Though Amos isnt exactly neurotypical. 

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2 minutes ago, larrytheimp said:

 I just couldn't see someone as smart as Duarte picking up this stuff created by someone obviously more powerful and intelligent, mickey-mousing it into something workable you still don't understand (magnetar and effects), and then still assume you're playing with an equal.  I guess that's the human part of it.

I mean, that's basically the entire series in a nutshell:

Book 1: scientists find awesome goop, think they know better and are blinded with power, have to be stopped

Book 2: soldiers find awesome goop and turn it into a weapon, think they know better, have to be stopped

Book 3: Governments find product of awesome goop and investigate it, think they know better, almost obliterate Earth, have to be stopped

Book 4: random asshats think they can get some value out of planet because they know better, don't care about giant robots running around, have to be stopped.

Books 5 & 6: ACTUALLY NO THEY AREN'T ABOUT THAT, but they do have Duarte using someone else and stealing the protomolecule. Inaros does, however, think he knows way better than anyone else and has to be stopped, though at least it's not about the alien goop this time. 

Book 7: Duarte, unlike the rest of those fools, knows what's up and knows that he has to unite Earth and needs a naval power to do so, so he messes with things that he's never messed with (seriously, they fired the magnetar cannon how many times? How did they never see the blackout effect? ), and then proceeds to piss things off in surprising ways. Also, he uses awesome goop to gain power.

Book 8: Duarte thinks that poking horrible eldrich horror is good idea, pokes it with stick, and has to be stopped. 

So yeah, a lot of it is 'humans mess with things beyond their ken and get their butt smacked'

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