“Babylon’s Ashes” Review

Most of the cover is taken up by the side of a grey ship showing a lot of random parts. At the bottom corner a purple nebula with stars is visible and at the top there is a ring which the ship is flying into. The title is in the middle of the cover with the authors name at the bottom.Full Title: “Babylon’s Ashes: The Expanse No. 6”
Written by James S.A. Corey
Published by Orbit Books, December 2016
538 pages
Completed May 28, 2024

The Free Navy – a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships – has crippled Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante’s problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.

I enjoyed most of this book – especially the ending resolution for the Belters who weren’t involved with the Free Navy. But I feel like some things were lost in having so many point of view characters. It ended up being harder to keep track of what was going on and who was doing what. With some point of view characters I wasn’t entirely sure who they were. That said it probably makes sense for this type of story because of how big the solar system is and all the people involved in the conflict. I did think central conflict is resolved a little too easily but given how baldy it was going to go there wasn’t much of a choice. I wish at this point the characters understood more about the alien technology they’re using but they don’t – and that’s actually going to be a problem later.

There’s a side plot that was going on during the conflict with the Free Navy – a group of Martian ships disappeared through one of the gates. It’s the reason why there’s three more novels in the series. That said one could end here with the ending of this book. There’s a 30 year gap between this book and the next and lot of things have to be rebuilt in the solar system.