I liked this book best of the series when I had been apprehensive about it upon learning that it would flow into such different directions and contain so many different point of view characters. In this novel the Expanse series opens up a vista on a future that seems tangible, possible, and terrifying. It is not without its flaws but they are secondary to the wide look at the world(s) it offers. There is something transcendent here, a book that employs the tropes and schemes of action and adventure and manages through all this to offer a mirror to our own world that is rather profound. What awful things human beings will do to one another in the name of justice. The book accomplishes this without losing its appeal as entertainment and it made me think hard about my own naiveté about the reality of human nature. The story opens the way for the second act of this enormous series of novels, the boiling over of the political tensions between humans who left the planet and humans who remain. The plot is too complicated to summarize, but the authors make it hurt: billions of people die on Earth when a Belter faction launches an astonishing attack with asteroids as their weapons, an echo of Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, only in this novel we see the devastation wrought in the sequence with Amos roaming his old city of Baltimore in fulfillment of old obligations. It is the impact of this attack that the novel traces, through a labyrinth of iterations, and they are compelling. There are the weaker moments that are at the same time necessary: the impossible coincidence that it is Naomi’s older lover who leads the Belter faction, that she has a son she’s never mentioned (shades of dozens of soap operas) who is part of the faction; this a plot choice that has a good deal of cheese in it but that nevertheless takes the reader inside the world of these attackers and gives a long look at their psychology, their self-justification. The fact that the novel opens up this territory of vengeance and genocide without attempting to resolve the whole within its pages leads to the permutations that will carry the series forward. This is the novel where the protomolecule and its semi-magical properties have the least effect and matter hardly at all, which makes the story more of a human thing. This is a strong piece of writing. Reading it made me glad I had decided to take on this series in the first place. I will never look forward to the wonder of space exploration in the same way.