SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn, Part 4

In the fourth and final part of Cibola Burn, things don’t quite play out as I’d thought they would. Then again, they sort of do?

This week’s questions were asked by Allie at Tethyan Books. If you’d like to follow or join in the Read Along for The Expanse, details are here.

Spoilers follow for chapter 43 through to the end of the book.


Banner by Sarah at The Illustrated Page


First, the traditional question, what do you think of the point-of-view characters, now that you’ve seen how each of their stories end up? Also, how does this book compare with the first three of the series for you?

I feel generally disappointed by this collection of characters, in terms of the payoff as well as their progress or development throughout this book. There were moments when I could appreciate each of them, but the bar was set pretty high for likeable/interesting characters, especially in the last two books, and I don’t think anyone here really meets it. I don’t think I’ll be terribly let down if we don’t see these guys again, but if we do, I want something more to chew on in terms of character depth than we got with this book.

The general plot arc for Cibola Burn, too, felt less engaging to me. There wasn’t really a point where I felt completely hooked on it. The apocalyptic weather event came close, but this was a peak on an otherwise pretty flat landscape, so to speak.

All of that said, though, the book’s ending did manage to scrape up some interest, even if I think it’s rather telling that this is thanks to the reappearance of Bobbie Draper and Chrisjen Avasarala. Their conversation was little more than a set-up to take us into the next book, but it was a breath of reassuringly fresh air, nonetheless. So this book was definitely not my favourite, but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m not here for the next one!


Do you feel that things came out fairly for everyone, colonist and RCE? Are you happy with how things ended for Marwick, Havelock, Murtry, Basia, and others? 

That’s an interesting question, because one of the central issues in this book was the matter of who had more right to ‘claim’ Ilus/New Terra and begin to settle there. Each party thought that they had the moral high ground, and I’ll admit I was more or less on the side of the colonists – but that’s largely because the RCE side was represented by the biggest collection of assholes in recent reading memory. There was nothing redeeming about Murtry, and don’t even get me started on his ‘militia’ in orbit. I’m just happy he didn’t get his way, in the end. Marwick was basically useless, and while I’m relieved that Havelock saw sense and turned out not to be a corporate drone/Murtry wannabe, I still don’t feel as though we saw much in the way of spine growth with him. I’m glad he picked a side, and I’m definitely glad it was the right side, but his persistence in trying to talk the militia guys down just grated on my nerves. You’ve picked your side, Havelock, and while they might be idiots, they’ve picked theirs too. Just get on with it.

So … am I happy with how things ended? It’s a box I can only tick, but with that said I don’t feel like I’ll really remember these guys a month from now. Unless we’re talking about how badly Murtry made me want to spit. That’s pretty memorable.


We finally get to see Avasarala and Bobbie again, in the epilogue! What do you think about her plan for James Holden, now that we know what she was going for in choosing him? Do you think she’s right to believe that what happened on Ilus will destroy Mars?

Yay, Avasarala! Squint as I might at her, shall we say, businesslike attitude to everything that happened on Ilus, I can’t deny that it’s entirely in keeping with her character. Of course she’s playing a longer game, and of course Holden went and mucked it up for her. Of course! As for Mars now being doomed to fail, I can absolutely understand her concerns, and she might even be right that Mars as a colony, and as a terraforming project, will fail if enough interest is lost. On the other hand, I’m not sure we want to just write it all off at this stage? I have faith in the ability of these writers to keep the surprises coming, so I’m holding off on calling this one just yet. I think Avasarala might just be proved wrong. Somehow.


Time for predictions! Do you have any thoughts on what might happen in the next book? Is there anything you’d especially like to see?

I’ve been considering the prospects for character recurrence that we haven’t already seen, though I can’t decide if there’s anyone I’d especially like to see more of – except probably Pastor Anna! But it’s a little soon to be bringing her back, and I want the exploration to continue forward rather than backward. So in terms of what I want to see happen next … I’m happy to have no idea, to be honest. I’m just along for the ride at this point, but I trust that whatever happens will continue to be suitably epic!

2 thoughts on “SF/F Read Alongs: Cibola Burn, Part 4

  1. I really enjoyed this book but I can see what you’re saying about the new characters introduced. None of them measure up to Bobbie or Chrisjen or even Melba for me. However, I was still captivated by Holden’s crew and I was really worried we had lost Amos there for a short bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *