James S.A. Corey – Babylon’s Ashes: The Expanse, Book 6
Book 5 turned inward, focusing almost entirely on the four main characters as they went their separate ways for a while. This book expands the scope and the cast with both familiar faces and new ones, and ratchets up the intensity that began to build towards the end of the last one.
But after all that buildup and the multi-book story arc, the climactic battle scenes weren’t nearly as vivid as the battles on The Behemoth and Ilus were in previous volumes. They do quite a bit in advancing the plot and addressing the ever-changing dynamics between Earth, Mars, the Belt, and now the colony planets beyond the ring gates. The several loose ends that were intentionally untied also leave plenty of possibilities open for the next chapters of the story.
This growing complexity with shifting alliances and geopolitical dynamics, a wide cast, and factions within factions, is where The Expanse’s frequent Game of Thrones comparisons start to make more sense. Fortunately, this series has far fewer main character deaths, so the reader feels less reluctant getting invested in certain characters and rooting for or against them.
There is more basis for the comparisons than one might think.; one of The Expanse’s two coauthors, who for some reason jointly write under a single pen name, worked as Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s assistant for a while. Martin, besides being a fan, has apparently also provided some informal guidance and support for this series.