James S.A. Corey – Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book 4

James S.A. Corey – Cibola Burn: The Expanse, Book 4

Things settle down for a few years after the big battle inside the ring. The massive warship The Behemoth has been converted to a peaceful station inside the ring for ships venturing back and forth through the 1,300 or so smaller ring gates to other star systems. Some stranded Belters have even established a small colony on a habitable planet on the other side of one ring gate, which the colonists have named Ilus. But then a conflict brews between them and an Earth-based mining company which is also seeking to establish a presence on the planet, which they call New Terra. A radicalized faction of the colonists bombed a landing pad, which resulted in a mining shuttle craft crash with fatalities, including several scientists unaffiliated with the mining company. James Holden and the Rocinante crew have developed a reputation as impartial peacekeepers at this point, and they’re sent in as part of a mediation team to try to prevent further violence.

The problems end up being far deeper. In addition to violence from multiple factions echoing the Earth-Mars-Belt disputes from earlier books, two-billion year old structures on the planet are accidentally revived, resulting in a planetary disaster. Orbiting ships are unable to help, and end up fighting each other, resulting in two simultaneous battles with shifting alliances, one on the planet Ilus/New Terra. As with the last book, disaster piles on disaster until conditions are so bleak that there seems to be no way out. That said, there is a Book 5 in the series, so one can guess how the ending goes.

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