Review – Babylon’s Ashes

Posted May 11, 2023 by Nicky in Reviews / 2 Comments

Cover of Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. CoreyBabylon’s Ashes, James S.A. Corey

I don’t know if it’s in part the way I read it (quite spread out, not all at once), or just the sprawling nature of the series by this point, but this one did not come together well for me. It feels dark and uncompromising: people are awful to each other, and I have to be in the head of characters who do and think violent, dreadful things. Everything is bad, and there’s not much hope. That made this a very difficult read for me.

Part of the problem is the sprawling cast. There are ways it could be made tighter and still have the scope, like dropping some of the more-or-less unnecessary POV characters (whose names I barely remembered between appearances). On the one hand, putting Holden in the centre gives him too much credit and the book pushes against making him the Main Character for all of humanity… but this is a book, and sometimes that kind of thing can tighten things up and make it feel easier to get into.

I also have a question about something weird where I’m not sure if I missed something, or whether something actually weird happened, that I should really look back and find out…

The book brings us to an interesting place, it’s just also a pretty wretched place. Everyone is suffering, and even the Rocinante isn’t a safe home to return to where no harm will touch. And that makes sense, it’s realistic, but for me it was all maybe a little too grim.

Rating: 3/5

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2 responses to “Review – Babylon’s Ashes

  1. Feel free to ping me on the weird / did I miss something angle – I reread these last year so it’s all relatively fresh in my head. This is definitely one of the hard books, although I appreciate the scope and the refusal to put Holden in the middle of it even though the sheer number of POVs here is hard work – and I do think there’s at least one strand / set of POVs that could probably be cut. Still, I rather admire the commitment to showing as many different versions of the universe as possible.

  2. Turned out to be something I missed/slightly misread — I just finally went back to check.

    I agree, the line between making Holden the main character of the whole universe and giving us something to latch onto as readers is difficult to walk. The previous books maybe went a bit too much toward making Holden the main character, but this felt like overcorrection. I seriously didn’t remember some of these characters properly between chapters.

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