Reviews

AUBERON (an Expanse Novella), by James S.A. Corey

 

Getting a new Expanse novella while I wait for the next (and last…) book in line feels like a way of shortening that waiting time, and going back to that universe is always a joy, even when the main characters I’ve come to know and love are not part of the story.

Auberon’s time-line is set somewhere between the last two published books, Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath, as the Laconian forces are tightening their hold on the occupied planets: governor Biryar Rittenaur and his wife Mona have been charged with the running of Auberon, one of the most Earth-like colony worlds behind the Ring gate, and like all Laconians Rittenaur is very focused on his mission, on the ideals of order and civilization that High Consul Duarte uses to advertise his merciless military conquest.

While Rittenaur and his staff expect the usual resistance – more or less overt – against what is in truth an occupation force, no matter the mask it wears, they are not ready to face the deeply rooted system of criminal corruption headed by a man named Erich whose reach into Auberon’s society goes quite far, and who is not ready to give in to the self-styled new masters of humanity. The new governor will soon discover that it’s not easy to keep faith with one’s ideals when they are in direct conflict with what he holds most dear – or as Erich tells him at some point: “Ideological purity never survives contact with the enemy.

The description of “old man” Erich, with his prosthetic arm covering for a malformed one, is a very intriguing one because it connects with a character I already encountered first in the novella The Churn (the one about Amos’ past) and then in the full novel Nemesis Games, where again Amos and Erich’s shared past came to the surface. If you read both of them, you will find that the present story gains even more depth, but even without this kind of information, Auberon remains an intriguing snippet in the overall Expanse background, because as usual the characters and their journey are at the core of it all.

What makes the two main characters in this novella interesting is that neither of them is likable, and at the same time neither of them is utterly despicable: we are made privy to their motivations, and from their point of view they are acting for the good of the people under their authority. Erich is a crime lord, and there is no measure of white-washing that can make us forget he’s a gangster ruling his territory with a blood-drenched iron fist (no pun intended here…), but he’s also fighting – in his own way and for his own purposes – against an invader bent on ruling the galaxy, so it’s difficult not to root for him, at least a little bit.  Rittenaur is the voice and arm of the conquerors, people who use other humans as guinea pigs for protomolecule alterations, people who execute their own as an example against mistakes, but he’s also a man with a deep love for integrity and a sincere belief in the good of the “Laconian dream” – he’s a decent man, very unlike Medina Station’s Governor Singh, and therefore worthy of some sympathy.

In the tried and tested tradition of the Expanse series, Auberon gives us much food for thought and sheds some interesting light on the latter part of the overall story, while we wait for the conclusion of this sweeping space opera saga that for me represents one of the best in the genre.

 

 

My Rating:

21 thoughts on “AUBERON (an Expanse Novella), by James S.A. Corey

      1. I feel like I forget stuff if I space them out. On the other hand- it’s always disappointing when you devour them and then have nothing left to read afterwards. 😂

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    1. The novellas are interesting because they fill those “little corners” left untouched by the books – and they have been used well in the TV series: one of them that I have not managed to read featured heavily in the 4th season, and I need to add it to my reading queue as soon as I can 😉

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      1. That makes sense as my friend was mentioning stuff about season 4 and I was adamant nothing like it happened in the book 😂

        I stopped watching the show after season 1 so its all a great surprise for me. Think Cibola Burn has been my favourite to date.

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  1. In the excitement for the novels, sometimes I forget that the series has novellas. I think I’ve read only one – and I don’t remember much from it (or what it was called, haha). I’m afraid this is why I typically don’t bother with the shorts outside of the main novels of a series, but if they make a collection of all of them, I might check it out. Actually, didn’t I hear they were doing that with the Expanse novellas?

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    1. I think I heard something about a novella collection, and if it’s not out yet, it will certainly be once the series is completed. I know you are not very partial to short stories, but I can wholeheartedly recommend The Churn if you are a fan of Amos – you would not miss that, trust me… 😉

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  2. I can only imagine how exciting it must be to be able to read these short stories in between novels, especially now, with the final novel coming out soon. Glad you enjoyed it this much. I know for a fact now that it’s a series that I just NEED to start! Great review, Maddalena! 😀

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  3. I haven’t read any of the novellas yet, but then I haven’t been up to date with the series as a whole either – I just lost interest sometime after Nemesis Games… It gives me hope to know you still enjoy it so much! 😀

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