Auberon by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As the back of the book (so to speak…this is only available as an ebook at the moment) says, this novella is a chance to see what Amos’ old colleague Erich is up to. The novella starts off with a quote about a changing of the guard that mirrors the opening to The Churn. It appears that Erich has learned the lessons of that book and applied them to his current enterprise. At the same time, this novella really isn’t about Erich and his crime empire at all. (Although that probably would have been a pretty great novella in its own right). Instead it’s about Governor Rittenaur and, despite being listed as #8.5 in the series, it might reasonably fit in better as 7.5. The plot takes us back to right when Laconia has taken over and Governor Rittenaur is sent in to be in charge of the most important star system in terms of riches and potential scientific developments. It’s a story about colonizers and colonies that is mature enough to show that neither side is perfect. In a way, who you side with in this story says more about you than it does about anything else. Within that story, it’s also about ideological purity vs the real world. As we’ve already seen in a few novels, Duarte’s leadership style enforces and creates a hierarchy that does not tolerate deviations because they’re so certain that they are on the right side. One can form so many parallels to history in that.
I really enjoyed it and basically blitzed through it in a day. I actually think that this particular novella can just about stand on its own and be read without any other knowledge of The Expanse. You won’t know what “the pens” are or why Laconians are so rigid in their morals. But if you just accept that, this story more or less stands on its own and that somewhat makes me think it’s quite a strong story. Honestly, I think the same could be said of The Churn.
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