Babylon's Ashes

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Babylon's Ashes
First edition
AuthorJames S. A. Corey
Cover artistDaniel Dociu
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Expanse
GenreScience fiction
PublishedDecember 6, 2016
PublisherOrbit Books
Media typePrint
Preceded byNemesis Games 
Followed byPersepolis Rising 

Babylon's Ashes is a science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and the sixth book in their The Expanse series. The title of the novel was announced in early July 2015,[1] and the cover and brief synopsis were revealed on September 14, 2015.[2] It won the 2017 Dragon Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.[3]


According to the authors, Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham (writers behind the pen name James S.A. Corey), with the preceding book in the series, Nemesis Games, the Babylon's Ashes story serves as the overall "hinge point" in the progression of the full set of The Expanse novels.[1] The events of the preceding book, Nemesis Games, saw return of Rocinante to Fred Johnson's Tycho for urgent repairs followed by the diaspora of all crew except Jim Holden to address aspects of their pasts; the events were further set against a mystery of missing ships, both Martian and ring-traversing (focused upon by various longstanding series characters)—and then the existential, Solar System-changing intrusion by Marcos Inaros and his declared New Navy with a planet-changing meteorite attack on Earth (alongside lesser, failed attacks on Johnson and Tycho, and Holden and the Rocinante, though with success in wresting away the Johnson-held proto molecule sample by others than Inaros).[4][5][citation needed]

Babylon's Ashes begins in the immediate aftermath, almost precisely where Nemesis left off (set in the various points in space of the relevant ships, and remaining leaders of the major systems): with Inaros and his New Navy pursuing consolidation of power after the earlier successes and failures of their attacks, and the re-gathered crew of the Rocinante (from points on Mars, Earth, Luna, and in free space), along with familiar but new crew additions Bobbie Draper and Clarissa Mao; gathered, they embark on a mission from Chrisjen Avasarala, titular leader of the U.N. and Earth, proceeding—as a vessel and agents of Earth—to Medina Station, a site of ship disappearances now in Free Navy hands. The scope of the novel, revealed by the principal character locations, is also alluded to by this quotation selected by Nial Alexander, writing in a review for, where he samples Avasarala's thoughts about the state of affairs of her system:[5][citation needed]

Her mind danced across the solar system. Medina Station. Rhea, declaring against the Free Navy. The food and supplies of Ganymede. The starvation and death on Earth. The Martian Navy divided between the mysterious Duarte and his black market Free Navy and Smith. Now Richards. The lost colonies. Fred Johnson’s OPA and all the factions he couldn’t influence or command. The colony ships being preyed upon by the Free Navy pirates, and the stations and asteroids gaining the benefit of the piracy. And the missing ships. And the stolen proto molecule sample.[5]

These are the elements in play, and to be resolved through the settings and events of Babylon's Ashes. As Nial Alexander notes, Babylon's Ashes is "[n]arratively... the polar opposite of its predecessor, which breathed in where this book breathes out."[5] The last novel focused on the backstories of the main characters of the Rocinante crew, and then their intersections with past critical characters;[4] As Alexander notes, "rather than casting the core four—Holden, Naomi, Amos and Alex—as our central perspectives, as in Nemesis Games, [this] saga explodes outwards to include more narrators than The Expanse has ever had to handle, as if to say: this isn’t just about our jokers any more", but the whole of the system's humanity, belters and earthers and Martians, however impacted by events.[5]

Plot summary[edit]

Three months have passed since Marco Inaros attacked Earth with giant meteorites. On Luna, James Holden has a meeting with Avasarala, who informs him about the Azure Dragon, a Free Navy ship she suspects coordinates the meteor attacks. Holden and his crew are sent on a mission with the Rocinante to “capture or destroy” the Azure Dragon. Bobbie Draper is sent along as mission commander. They succeed and they bring the Azure Dragon back to Luna.

Avasarala’s next plan is “to take back Ceres” from the Free Navy. When Marco Inaros hears of the plan, he abandons Ceres. Fred Johnson decides to call a meeting with all OPA factions that didn’t join the Free Navy. The crew of the Rocinante will ferry Fred to Tycho, where the meeting will take place. When Marco hears of this meeting, he attacks the Rocinante. They manage to drive off Marco, but Fred has a stroke and dies. Filip Inaros, after several conflicts with his father, decides he is not to be trusted and stays behind on Callisto, changing his name to “Filip Nagata”.

Holden leads the meeting with the OPA factions after Fred’s demise, and manages to combine the fleets of Earth, Mars and the OPA. Avasarala devises a plan to take back the Ring from the Free Navy. The Free Navy has mounted rail guns on the Ring station to take down enemy ships entering the Ring as an extra defense. Bobbie manages to take out the rail gun on the Ring station, and Holden captures Medina station.

Meanwhile, Marco Inaros is on his way to the Ring with the remainder of his Free Navy, hoping to regain control of Medina station. Naomi figures out under which circumstances ships disappear when passing Ring gates: when a certain threshold of mass passing through a gate is reached, the next ship going through will disappear. The Earth-Mars-OPA coalition sends the right amount of mass through the Ring, so that Marco’s ships disappear upon transit.

Six months pass. Holden proposes to set up a Transport Union, led by Belters. This Transport Union will monitor the amount of mass transiting through the Ring, to assure none of the ships disappear.


There are two categories of characters in The Expanse novels, those acting as chapter narrators (the "POV characters"), and those additional characters, who, though not narrating, are nevertheless significant in the development of the novel's plot; notably, in Babylon's Ashes, the cast of POV editors extends far in number beyond that of previous expanse novels, to fifteen.[6][5] The POV characters of the novel, including in its Prologue and Epilogue, include the crew of the Rocinante, returning Martian colleague Bobbie Draper, U.N. Secretary and "earther" Chrisjen Avasarala, and "belter" and Free Navy leader Marco Inaros, as well as earlier series notables like Praxidike Meng,[6][5] and peripheral characters like Namono,[5] spouse of earlier principal character Anna Volovodov:[7]

  • James Holden,[6] Captain of the Rocinante.
  • Naomi Nagata,[6] one of the best engineers in the solar system and XO of the Rocinante.
  • Alex Kamal,[6] Martian pilot of the Rocinante.
  • Amos Burton,[6] Earther mechanic on the Rocinante.
  • Clarissa Mao,[5] is the younger sister of Julie Mao. She wanted to kill James Holden, but eventually became part of the crew on the Rocinante. Amos looks out for her and calls her ‘Peaches’.
  • Bobbie Draper,[6][5] former Martian Marine and now military advisor to Avasarala and crew member of the Rocinante.
  • Chrisjen Avasarala,[6] UN president of Earth, residing on Luna after the Free Navy attacks on Earth.
  • Marco Inaros,[6] leader of the Free Navy and father to Filip. He strives to create an independent Belter state. He uses terrorism and war to show the strength of Belters to Earth and Mars, hoping to enforce respect and their acceptance of an independent Belt.
  • Filip Inaros,[5] son of Marco Inaros and Naomi Nagata.
  • Fred Johnson,[5] a former Earth military leader, who has changed sides after unwittingly being responsible for a mass murder of Belters. He runs Tycho station.
  • Anderson Dawes,[5] Governor of Ceres Station and long-time OPA leader.
  • Michio Pa, former Free Navy captain.
  • Praxidike Meng,[6] plant researcher at Ganymede.
  • Salis,[5] Jakulski, Roberts, and Vandercaust, workers on Medina Station.
  • Namono,[5] also known as "Nono", is the spouse of Anoushka "Anna" Volovodov, a religious leader and principle character featured in Abaddon's Gate, also mother of their daughter Nami, and in her appearance in the Prologue living on subsistence with that family in Abuja, Nigeria, after the North African strike (meteorite attack) by the "belter" New/Free Navy (in the events of the previous Expanse novel).[7][better source needed]

Short story[edit]

"Strange Dogs" is a short story published by James S.A. Corey, set between Babylon's Ashes and its sequel Persepolis Rising, consisting of 103 pages.[citation needed]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b Martinetti, Cher (9 July 2015). "Exclusive: The Expanse's James SA Corey Talk TV Adaptation, State of Sci-Fi". Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  2. ^ Hinton, Will (14 September 2015). "Cover Launch: BABYLON'S ASHES by James S. A. Corey". Retrieved 15 Sep 2015.
  3. ^ Liptak, Andrew (2017-09-03). "Here are the winners of the 2017 Dragon Awards". The Verge. Retrieved 2022-11-28.
  4. ^ a b Alexander, Niall (June 3, 2015). "Leviathan Breaks: Nemesis Games by James S. A. Corey". Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Alexander, Niall (December 8, 2016). "Agents of Chaos: Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. Corey". Retrieved 9 July 2023.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Smythe, Dan [Daniel A.] (January 12, 2017). "Review: Babylon's Ashes". Elitist Book Reviews ( Retrieved July 14, 2023.
  7. ^ a b Corey, James S.A. (July 14, 2023). "Read a sample from Babylon's Ashes by James S.A. Corey — Prologue: Namono". London, England: Orbit Books. Retrieved July 14, 2023.

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