The Expanse Reread Review: Persepolis Rising by James S.A. Corey
In case you missed my intro post at the beginning of this week, The BiblioSanctum is taking part in The Expanse re-read event hosted by Orbit in celebration of the ninth and final novel of the series which comes out next month. As much as I’m looking forward to Leviathan Falls, it’s always a bittersweet moment to have to say goodbye to a beloved series, which is why I’m so thankful to have had this opportunity to participate. Each blogger in the tour was given a book to cover, and I got Persepolis Rising which was very exciting for me—after all, it’s my favorite installment so far.
And it appears I’m not alone. Go to any review site and you’ll see many others proclaiming the same thing about Persepolis Rising, or that they think it’s the best book of the series. Of course, there’s a significant development here that might have something to do with that. And quite honestly, it wouldn’t even be a spoiler for me to reveal what it is, because the first line of the novel literally starts with, “Almost three decades had passed…”
For many authors, such a bold move would be a mistake. Generally, you don’t jump forward thirty years or so in time in your story and just expect your fans to just go along with it. But in this case, it kind of works. I said this in my first review of Persepolis Rising and I’ll say it again: when your epic space opera series is seven books in and you’ve already put your readers through some of the most intense and nerve-wracking experiences you can imagine, how else can you shake things up?
Well, apparently by pressing the “soft reset” button. And that’s how the book opens. We are reacquainted with familiar characters, albeit all of them are now older, and in some cases wiser. As with the other Expanse books, this one’s told through multiple POVs as well. The members of the Rocinante crew are represented of course, though the passing years have affected each of them very differently. And yet, some things remain the same, and that is why Persepolis Rising was such a joy to read—for the first time and for the reread—because you got to experience the best of both the old and the new.
The characters really take center stage in this one. Unlike the previous books, readers are not immediately accosted by some galaxy-wide emergency, giving us time to gather our bearings and maybe catch up on some of things we’ve missed. As ever, Holden is our main protagonist, as well as the glue that holds everything together. But now, having been through so much, he’s just tired. He and Naomi are getting on in years, and he’s thinking maybe it’s time to quit the space game and retire somewhere quiet to live out the rest of their lives.
However, the universe has other plans for him, starting with the return of an old enemy. Clearly there’s room in this series for one last adventure, and Persepolis Rising does a phenomenal job introducing this new threat, along with setting up the rest of the arc. Like I said, this book’s all about the characters, and not just the heroes but the antagonist as well. We meet Governor Singh, a severe authoritarian but also a tragic figure who is driven to do what he does out of love for his young daughter.
At the end of the day, it’s the relationships that keep me coming back to this series. Sure, I’m also a big fan of the space opera action and sci-fi thrills, but without the people in the story, none of it would mean as much. In a way, Persepolis Rising is a symbol of how far we’ve all come on this journey, following the characters from the beginning all the way to this point. While it might be thrilling and fascinating to see how much things have changed, there’s still this familiarity that keeps us grounded. Deep down, these are always going to be the character we know and love, even if we’re now seeing many of them from new angles and through fresh eyes.
In any case, I’m definitely not going anywhere. The Expanse is truly a spectacular series, and not only has this reread opportunity reminded me of how much I love these books, but I’m now even more fired up in my excitement for Leviathan Falls.
Before that though, there is one last book to cover, and I am pleased to be passing the torch to the next blogger on the list! Make sure to stay tuned for Quintessentially Bookish’s coverage of Tiamat’s Wrath!