Enter a new frontier.
An empty apartment, a missing family, that's creepy. But this is like finding a military base with no one on it. Fighters and tanks idling on the runway with no drivers. This is bad juju. Something wrong happened here. What you should do is tell everyone to leave.
The gates have opened the way to a thousand new worlds and the rush to colonize has begun. Settlers looking for a new life stream out from humanity's home planets. Ilus, the first human colony on this vast new frontier, is being born in blood and fire.
Independent settlers stand against the overwhelming power of a corporate colony ship with only their determination, courage, and the skills learned in the long wars of home. Innocent scientists are slaughtered as they try to survey a new and alien world. The struggle on Ilus threatens to spread all the way back to Earth.
James Holden and the crew of his one small ship are sent to make peace in the midst of war and sense in the midst of chaos. But the more he looks at it, the more Holden thinks the mission was meant to fail.
And the whispers of a dead man remind him that the great galactic civilization that once stood on this land is gone. And that something killed it.
©2014 James S.A. Corey (P)2014 Hachette Audio
The new narrator is absolutely horrible. All the characters sound as if they have a cold or are suffering from a concussion. His pace is slow and he often sounds like a computer wen reading. No emotion whatsoever. I will not buy any audible book by Erik Davies I. The future.
Replace the narrator!
The book seemed to start slow. May have just been because of the narorator's robot like reading. The reading gets better though, and the book is awesome. These books just get better and better.
The Geek in Geekville
All of the great work by Jefferson Mays up until this point in the series is marred by Davies in a matter of minutes.
I began reading the Expanse series after watching the television series on SyFy. While the series was amazing enough to get me to start the books, the books now have me anxious to see the television series continue. Mays' narration does an interstellar job of providing enough breadth of characterization without overdoing it.
Davies, on the other hand, sounds like he trained at the Captain James T Kirk school of narration. His cadence is stilted, his emphasis of words bizarre and his characters come off like computer simulations of people based on cartoons.
Save your money or audible credits and just read it in silence to yourself. It's the only way you'll avoid ruining this book.
Erik Davies simply does not have the dynamic range or the ability to form distinct, believable characters. Instead, the characters became caricatures, and the caricatures – well, they pretty much left orbit.
The story, itself, is not the strongest in the series. Jefferson Mays would have at least made the transit through this part of The Expanse, more comfortable and familiar, if not riveting.
Hachette audio needs to do what other publishers of hit series have done – bite the bullet and re-record the piece using the incumbent narrator, in this case, Jefferson Mays.
From a business standpoint, what I believe is at stake is a serious fall off in the number of people that would have gone all the way through the series, but abandoned at Cibola Burn because of the combination of weaker story and completely outclassed narrator.
I will pass on perhaps the best advice I read before starting the Cibola Burn audiobook: don't. Get the paperback or Kindle, and read it with the voices of Jefferson Mays' characters riding with you like the ghost of Detective Miller.
Wow. .....Wow. .... So if you have read any of my other reviews for the Expanse series, I was beginning to sound a bit like a broken record in regards to my feelings on the books. To put it most bluntly I was beginning to sound like a dedicated fanboy. Like S.A Corey was slipping me cash to rave about this books. Well...after reading this review, those allegations can be laid to rest.
I began the book in the normal way that I have for the last 3 Expanse books...with elated joy and optimism. Infact it begins on a very 'typical Corey' note. I was really excited by the prospect of what seemed like what was to be a very smart, clever and well focused politically charged novel. It even begins with guerilla type sabotage attack... I couldn't see yet how this book would become such a disaster by the 583rd page... But it did. So let's see what went wrong...
We're introduced to Basia Merton. Sound familiar? He was Prax's friend in the last novel. In fact Holden and Prax ran into Basia's dead son on Ganymede station during one of their raids to find and retrieve Prax's daughter. Anyway, It's Basia's turn to play support to Holden and Co. Like Prax, Basia definitely isn't the fighting, warrior type. Which is great, having too many "bad ass" characters is really not a good thing. It's much more interesting, to me, when we see characters that are just normal folks, trying to get on with their lives, but events send them into "warrior mode". Anyway, Basia to be honest, is a giant push over of the pushovers.
He, and a small group of escapees (refugees to be honest) from the collapse of Ganymede have sought shelter on a life sustaining planet that is through the gateway that set itself up new Jupiter/Saturn. So basically people who fled the terror of the U.N/Mars/O.P.A entanglement, decide to create a whole new colony of humans on an unchartered world... Hooo kay good luck bros.
Obviously these people aren't left to their own devices for long. Upon discovery of the life sustaining planet, Earth and Mars vie for control of the planet, it's resources, and it's strategic importance.
So it turns out that a privately owned Earth company, Royal Charter Energy (RCE from now on) has legal claims to the planet. So they dispatch a convoy out to begin hosting experiments, testing and seeing just what about the planet would be of interest. This includes biological. The scientists send out are attempting to see if anything on the planet would be harmful to the human body, for long term durations etc. ..
What I liked was that RCE is not an evil nefarious company (for the most part). After the whole Eros thing, I was hoping that we weren't seriously going to have to face another cliche evil faceless company bent on world domination through a secret scheme. At the very least, this book got that right.
Miller's old partner Havelock finally makes his return as well. He's been bouncing around from job to job, and gaining some experience, and doesn't come off as the wet behind the ears rookie that he was introduced to us in Book 1. The problem with that is that it's sort of jarring. We left Havelock and he was still pretty much a newbie. What has come to be roughly 3-4 years later, he's grown, but we haven't seen any of it.
This is where the book just...loses me. I think much of it, has to do with the "Fiction" part of Science Fiction. The first two books where heavily based in "reality". There wasn't a ton of paranormal, spooky ghosts, or over the top idea's that required a very stretched imagination. That's how I like my sci fi. Action, political intrigue, and most of all really good characters. This book fails on all of those counts. And here's why...It has way..way too many plot hooks that it tries to grasp at.
In the beginning we have the accidental killing of Governor Trying. Okay! great start! politically important person, killed, we're going to come back to this, and explore it right? Nope. Never mentioned again. Never even given a reason why his death mattered or who he really was. Then we we're introduced to Basia's family, and his problems. Okay..well he's not the most interesting character in the universe.... but the family centric nature of the story was decent enough. Unfortunately because so much time is spent going over other possible but useless story lines we never really get a feel for anyone in his family. The son is completely transparent. I don't even know what his story was. The daughter...wants to go off world but Basia can't let go... okay, big whoop, really not that creative.
As the book goes on, it this comes to one of the most annoying area's. There are seemingly random and COMPLETELY silly "interludes". I honestly have no idea what these are for. It's written from the alien's or protomolecule's perspective? Really to be honest this whole proto-molecule alien thing is very very silly, and because no straight answers have been given, I've become really fed up with the whole thing. Ghost Miller is still around haunting Holden, and the book takes a turn into X-files territory far more than it goes into Fire-Fly territory. The wasted pages of these interludes could have provided backstory, history as to why I should care that Miller died, but is still around, or where the alien's came from, or where they are right now. But no nothing. In trying to be so clever and cryptic, way too many pages are just wasted space and nonsense.
As I stated in the beginning I don't want the audio book to come into play here with my review, but god, who is this fool narrating? The characters, Amos, and Havelock sound NOTHING like they should.
A tiny bright point in the novel is that we finally get a good solid backstory on Alex, the pilot of the Rochy. It's been a long time coming. He's sort of been an invisible character for most of the books.
So it was nice to have his character given a bit of history and context.
That being said, even this interesting droplet, is a tiny one in a sea of bad writing. Which really disappoint and surprises me. One thing that I noticed that was mind bogglingly annoying was the very noticeable overuse of the words "He said" or "She said" or "Holden said" Seriously, almost every freaking dialogue is punctuated by at least one "he said" at the end of it... I didn't notice this in the previous books, so I'm not sure why it's so blatant here. Every person is explicitly written as "XXX said". It gets very annoying and predictable, and just shows either laziness or a rush to pump out this book. (that's not the only telltale sign.) This really makes the writing seem much more childish and dumbed down, not like the previous books.
Anyway I'm not even going to keep ranting much longer, I have more important things that need attending, but the book begins to pummel us with random planet side events. Suddenly a huge volcano erupts causing a storm...One of the moon's is "melting.." slugs that can kill people show up, and there's something in the air or something that is causing blindness. Sounds like a fun ride? No, it's really not. Nothing is resolved. They literally mention a melting moon, but never go back to it to see why it's melting, or what even 'melting' means in this cause. I honestly hope the next book is delayed because I really don't think the speed writing is working for Corey. They need to pick a direction to take the series and go with it. The stories can NOT be just random un linked events thrown at the characters, and then just blame it all on this mystery alien molecule. It doesn't work. And it just reeks of lazy writing, and rushed deadlines...
this guy reads like a speak and spell. almost no inflection in his voice and his choice of voices for some characters are just awful.
The narration. I could only get though 4 chapters before it became utterly unbearable and I had to abandon a story that I've become obsessed with. Is Erik Davies an actual human being? The narration sounds like the computerized voice of a telephone menu robot whose speed has been dialed down to the slowest setting. Believe me, if I could have pressed "1" for to switch to Jefferson Mays, I would have after the first sentence.
When I heard Erik Davies do the voice of Avasarala, I cried a little bit in my car.
Great storytelling by James S.A. Corey.
Please redo this with Jefferson Mays.
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