The Expanse Read Along: Persepolis Rising, Part 2

In this week’s chapters, Holden finds himself back in the fight – but what does that mean for Captain Draper? Elsewhere, Governor Singh is finding out just how messy a hostile takeover can become when – surprise! – some people (Belter people, no less) aren’t happy about it; and Drummer receives some not entirely welcome help from an unexpected source.

The tension. It is so thick. And so delicious.

Spoilers follow for chapters 13 to 27.

 

 

Before I get to the Q & A part, here’s our final schedule for the read along what I didn’t actually post last week!

 

Week 1: Prologue – Ch12, Sunday 14th Jan, hosted by @imyril at x+1 
Week 2: Ch13 – Ch27, 28th Jan, hosted by Lisa at Over the Effing Rainbow
Week 3: Ch28 – Ch41, 4th Feb, hosted by @imyril
Week 4: Ch42 – End, 11th Feb, hosted by Lisa

 

Sarah and Allie are still participating, though they weren’t able to take a hosting spot this time around, so do check out their posts as well!

Right then. This week’s questions are mine, so let’s get discussing…

 

We see more of Governor Singh in these chapters, and … Well. He certainly takes ‘doing it by the book’ rather more literally than most. How do you feel about the man after this closer character exploration, and his response(s) to attempts at resistance on Medina?

My feelings about Singh are … Well, they’re a bit violent, to be quite honest. I want to literally knock some sense into him, though I recognise that, to his way of thinking, everything he’s doing makes perfect sense. Singh is, to me, a clear example of indoctrination at its most terrifying, not only because Singh is, as even his superiors point out, a believer – but because he doesn’t even seem capable of understanding any point of view that isn’t his own. Moreover, he’s got pride to spare; see his ultimate response to the way Colonel Tanaka treats him. And if that wasn’t bad enough, it seems pretty clear that he just wasn’t ready for the responsibility he’s been given. He admits, even if only to himself, that he doesn’t even know what the term “greenhorn” means. He’s got The Holy Duarte Bible and he’s got an education, but he knows nothing about the practical application of either of those things, compared to some of the people around him. And that’s what’s most terrifying, here.

Also, it’s making me wonder just what the hell Duarte was thinking when he gave him the governor job. Is Singh being set up as another Marco Inaros here, competent in some areas, useful because he’s such a dupe, but ultimately an expendable distraction? If so, what the heck is Singh meant to distract people from with that freaking monstrosity of a battleship hanging around out in space – and another one on the way?

I suspect … things. Something. I’m just not quite sure what I suspect, yet.

 

Captain Draper’s having a difficult time of it, elsewhere – though at least she’s not lashing out in her efforts to deal with that. What did you make of her conversation with Holden regarding the underground movement?

I got SO FRUSTRATED on Bobbie’s behalf this week. I’m not angry at Holden, exactly, but while he hasn’t encouraged his own legend he hasn’t really done a whole lot to dispel it either, and it’s The Legend of James Holden that’s ultimately frustrating Bobbie in her efforts to be seen as a competent Captain, much less a good one. And it’s made worse by the fact that Bobbie has so much to offer the underground resistance.

But, then. That conversation. It made me nervous at first because I honestly wasn’t sure what Bobbie was going to say or do when she had Holden alone, but the whole scene works so beautifully because neither was Bobbie.

If Singh is so much of a greenhorn that he doesn’t even know the definition of the word, then I kind of feel like Bobbie’s emerging as a sort of mirror of him. She’s got all of the military experience, she knows her capabilities and her worth, and she’s not overreaching herself; she wants to be a good captain, but therein lies her relative inexperience, and I think she knows it. What she wants is to be taken seriously enough to get on with what she’s good at, and thus get on with learning to be good at being a Captain.

(Not that I think she really has to worry about that; in my view she was already outstripping Holden in that field the moment she thought to ask Clarissa what her plans for her future were. Like a good, considerate Captain would and seriously, Holden, you had thirty years to ask and you still didn’t?)

But I digress. The fact that Bobbie is in danger of having her valuable input overlooked in favour of Captain James Holden, Legendary Hero, doesn’t escape her – but there’s where she has the advantage over Singh because she ultimately doesn’t let her pride become a weakness. She owns it, and in explaining to Holden that she needs him to play puppet for her just to have her ideas pitched to Saba and his crew, she’s swallowing it. And while it’s eternally adorable that Holden is also frustrated on her behalf over the whole situation, it’s still kind of frustrating, as well, that he had to have his eyes opened to it in the first place.

These characters. I love them so much.

Except Singh. I don’t love Singh.

 

SHE’S ALIVE! Avasarala comes to Drummer’s (political) aid, though it seems Madam President is less than thrilled with the idea. What’s your take on their interaction, and in particular that last conversation between them?

AAAAAAAAAAAH I WAS NOT EXPECTING TO SEE AVASARALA AGAIN I MIGHT HAVE CRIED A LITTLE BIT.

Ahem. But yes! Old Lady Avasarala, pretending to be “dotty” with her wheelchair and her pistachios but still as abrasive and ruthless and clever as she ever was. BE STILL MY HEART. It deserves a moment, OK?

OK, moment over, I promise. Drummer! I … do not blame her for being wary of Avasarala. Pride in one’s self, and the strengths and weaknesses it can affect, seems to be a theme with the major players in this book. Not to mention the ways that their pride can affect their situation, and either limit or open up their options depending on how they handle it. Singh isn’t handling things well. Bobbie is doing the best she can, not for herself but for those she’s protecting. Drummer is … a harder nut to crack? She may well be the linchpin here, and it’s not yet entirely clear what will happen by her hand. Will she hold the proverbial wheel together, or will something pull her out – and thus take the entire opposition apart? Both options are possible at this stage, but again, it might come down to Drummer’s pride, and how much of it she’ll swallow by continuing to let Avasarala pull her strings. If that is, as Drummer suspects, what the old woman’s doing.

Is it, though? Avasarala is ruthlessly pragmatic and pretty coldly cunning when she has to be, and she is used to being in charge even if she never really enjoyed it – but I’ve never doubted that there was a heart underneath it all. But does Drummer see her that way? At this point, it appears she doesn’t, or at least that she isn’t sure. So the question hanging over all of this (and really, all of the series so far) is, how human will these humans be, and in which ways?

I just. I can’t even with these books. WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO ME.

3 thoughts on “The Expanse Read Along: Persepolis Rising, Part 2

  1. I’d wondered if Singh was set to be a scapegoat too. He’s just so out of his depth, did they really think he’d manage to rise to the occasion?

    I am hoping that somehow Bobbie gets some recognition out of all of this. She wants it, and she doesn’t deserve to be the “bass player” forever.

    On Avasarala, I think she’s less manipulative in this case than Drummer fears. As far as I can tell, she seems to genuinely be trying to figure out how to deal with the Laconian threat, not jockeying for position between Earth and the Belt.

  2. I… hadn’t really stopped to consider whether Duarte was setting Singh up for a fall.

    Or what that might mean.

    Fuuuuuuuck.

    “Hey, I only feed bad people to the protomolecule, that dude would destroy entire planets on the back of someone sneezing in the wrong place. This is mercy. Love me.” <– suddenly seems like the mildest option

    ARGH

    1. I mean. We already know Duarte plans for the long-term. Buildings on Laconia just waiting around for people to fill them, years from now?

      What’s one scapegoat thrown to the wolves to make himself look better by comparison?

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