SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4), Part 1

The Expanse Read Along is rocketing along nicely, as we launch ourselves into the fourth book in the series and … try to dodge the asteroids of, um, overwhelming shock – OK, I’ll stop now.

I’m hosting this week, as we cover the Prologue through Chapter 12. If you’re interested in joining us or following along with the weekly Q&As, our Goodreads group page is here.

Now let’s get on with it, shall we?


Banner by Sarah at The Illustrated Page


Bobbie Draper is back! Though we don’t get much more than a re-intro scene with her in this section … Any thoughts on what form her role in this book might take?


Ahem. I’m excited to see her again. In case you couldn’t tell. *Grin*

We really don’t get much of a clue about what her role will be this time around, though I was definitely interested to read about what she’s been up to since going home to Mars. (I really liked her handling the beggar on the train. Another story, indeed. You tell ‘im, Sarge.)

I’ve got nothing but speculation about her at this point. I am guessing she might end up back in uniform, as it were – or back in power armour, as the case may be (YAY BOBBIE IN POWER ARMOUR). It’s the option that makes most sense for her, I think? But you never know – and I would quite like to see her become involved in some way we might not expect. She is connected to Avasarala now, though whether they’ve kept in touch is probably another matter…

OH WHO CARES. We’ve got Bobbie back! I’m happy enough with that.


We also get to see Havelock again, and in a larger role than before, as we’re set up with a colonisation/(another) ‘evil’ corporation story this time. How do you feel about those kinds of stories? Does this one grab you, and what are your thoughts on Havelock’s role in particular?

Returning characters seems to be a bit of a theme in this book, and I’ll admit I was surprised to find Havelock in a POV role. (Am I the only one who can’t help thinking of Lord Vetinari every time they read that name, though?)

Anyway. I had speculated about whether we’d see a colonisation story after the events of the last book, and here we are. I do find them interesting, especially in cases like this where we’re on the ground, so to speak, and ‘witnessing’ these events as they happen instead of after the fact, when history’s had a chance to doctor the facts. And we all know that’s a thing. So this story is promising to be pretty dark and bloody, which is fine by me so long as we don’t go entirely grim and hopeless and MURDER EVERYTHING. But I trust that we won’t, because we are still reading a giant space opera. So.

As for Havelock … I’ll be honest. I’m not entirely sure I like him. I’m fascinated by him, because his motivations here seem mostly, if not entirely (though I’ll hold off on making that call for now) influenced by the people who happen to be around him at any given time. It gives me the impression that Havelock is a very insecure person, in that he maybe doesn’t have the confidence to go with or even explore his own feelings and instincts. He latches on to the personality types around him, and I feel like he’s wearing the personas of others as a sort of mask. So with that in mind, I’m not sure if we’re actually getting to know him.

He’s an odd one, and he makes me very uneasy – when he’s not frustrating me, that is, because in this instance he’s latched onto Murtry – someone who is quite clearly a sociopathic asshole, and an unhinged killer waiting to happen.


This will be fun?


We’re given perspective on both sides of the battlefield here, as it were – not only with the colony vs. Murtry and his goons, but with the teams of scientists (and Elvi as a new POV character) who are there for their own reasons. What were your first impressions of Elvi, and your thoughts on the general attitude of the scientists present?

Again, I’m finding a lot to be frustrated about when it comes to the science teams, and Elvi in particular. I can appreciate that they are kind of insular in that nerdy “we just came to do science, why can we not do science” way. Elvi, especially, has her priorities and they’re kind of tunnelling her vision when it comes to Ilus/New Terra. I say I’m frustrated with her because she’s so focused on her work that she’s coming across as a bit naive. She definitely doesn’t strike me as someone who’s good at reading people, or dangerous situations, very well. Case in point: She trusts Murtry, for crying out loud.


Though I can’t help also feeling a tiny bit sorry for her after she realises she’s gone sweet on Holden. Oh, love. That way, a happy ending does not lie…


Once again, Holden appears to have the crappy end of the stick, trying to mediate between these two sides. Do you think Avasarala is setting him up, expecting failure, or is there some way he can actually make this work…?

I’m pretty sure Avasarala is playing her political cards as ruthlessly as we’d expect her to, in this situation. It really is a sticky mess they’re all in, and it’s understandable that many might not see any way for Holden to make something good come of it. But I would not be at all surprised if Avasarala hasn’t also prepared for that possibility. She’s Avasarala. And we are talking about Jim Holden, here. He’s the unluckiest hero in all the worlds in a lot of ways, but he’s come through so far.

So, right now I don’t see everybody settling their differences and sitting down to eat, drink and be merry together – there has, it must be said, been a bit too much gunfire for that already. But we’re still a long way from the end of the book. Who knows what’ll happen?




4 thoughts on “SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn (The Expanse #4), Part 1

  1. i think you’re right about Havelock. He’s heavily influenced by whoever he’s with – a joiner, not a leader, not a thinker.

    I get what you’re saying about the scientists and tunnelvision, being a biologist. Still, I also want to know what those soil samples are telling them, dammit!

  2. …who is Lord Vetinari? I can’t say I’m liking Havelock – I was intrigued, but he’s so … bland? AND he’s totally the guy who will follow orders because they are the orders, even when he’s fairly sure they’re a bad idea.

    I do like Elvi though. She is very naive, but I like her earnestness. I don’t see it ending well for her though…

    And I’m with you. Avasarala will have a plan within a plan within a plan. And maybe a hope that against the odds Jim Holden can pull it off. Because he does that.

  3. I think you may have hit the nail on the head for why Havelock is so forgettable for me. He doesn’t really have a strong personality of his own, at least not yet. I hope he sees some major development in this novel.

    I actually rather liked Elvi. She’s pretty sheltered and naive, but seems like a decent person.

  4. Oh my gosh, I thought I was the only one who’s brain was going to Vetinari. I have to say, I like Vetinari a lot more than this Havelock.

    Whoever the fourth POV character is (the Belter guy), I don’t like him either. He’s just so annoying and patriarchal!

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