Welcome to week three of the read-along of James S.A. Corey’s Babylon’s Ashes, book six of The Expanse! This week we’re covering chapters 28-41, and discussion questions were provided by Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow. Feel free to check out our Goodreads page if you’d like to join this or future read-alongs! And now, beware of the really serious spoilers below.
1. The side of good takes a hit with the sudden death of Fred Johnson, but it doesn't take long for some to start using it toward their own ends. Dawes, in particular, seems to have kingmaker aspirations that won't wait, despite his grief. What did you make of his actions in these chapters?
I think maybe I read him as much more sympathetic than this question implies. He realized he made a mistake backing Marco, both because Marco was incompetent and because it was the wrong decision. He understood Marco was a terrible at everything besides charisma, but he thought he could use him to unify the Belt.
I think his guilt over betraying Fred, and his grief for his death, have pushed him to side with Holden. It was interesting seeing him make a case for following Holden, even when he didn’t even like the guy himself. I think he could be a really useful ally, since he is better at manipulating people than Holden will likely ever be.
2. Filip appears to be sliding further toward realising just where, precisely, he really stands with Marco. Do you think he'll slide the rest of the way there before it's too late to do anything? For that matter, given our general attitudes toward him so far, do you feel more sympathy for him now?
Whenever he feels sad about his father treating him poorly, at least he can warm his heart with the pride of knowing he killed over 15 billion people (note my sarcasm). I don’t think it really matters at this point whether he turns on his father or not, because I don’t see how he has the ability or opportunity to do anything useful for the opposition. Seeing as he hasn’t really changed at all, my attitude towards him is similarly unchanged.
3. With Avasarala's massive (and massively ambitious) attack upon the Free Navy underway, plans are already having to be altered - though Captain Pa is altering them because of her conscience, rather than (arguably) out of necessity. Did she do the right thing with the Solano, or do you think it will only come back to bite her?
I guess time will tell, but I think she probably did the right thing. It’s nice that she considers other Belters human, though she isn’t really willing to extend that courtesy to Inners. That puts her a notch above Marco. So yeah, I appreciate that she is trying to do the right thing by the Belters. It will probably come back to bite her, but I hope she can handle it when it does.
4. It's all on the line now, so I have to ask: Do you have any predictions? Desired outcomes? Possibly any POVs remaining you'd like to see before it's all over?
I hope that the Belters aren’t eradicated, and that Earth reaches some kind of stable equilibrium. I hope that the “Free Navy” problem is more or less handled in this book, so Marco and company won’t be sticking around. I think we’ve been all over with POVs, so I can’t think of anyone in particular that I still want to see.