Unveiling the World of Persepolis Rising and Its Impact on Science Fiction

Persepolis Rising great galactic civil war between the Free Navy and the merged Fleet of Earth, Mars, and Belters has ended. The gateway to thousands of new systems (worlds) is now safe, allowing humans to take interstellar journeys and find new homes for a better life. Among the hundreds (if not thousands), of spaceships going on an expedition through the Ring is one carrying a group of Martian military leaders accompanied by several warships heading to the Laconian System. Upon arrival, however, they cut off all contact with the rest of the human civilization. Nobody in the Solar System loses sleep over them – there are already more than enough challenges lurking around every corner, from political turmoil to armed conflicts in the galaxy – which turns out to be a mistake.

Over the course of 30 years following the end of the Free Navy Conflict, the Laconian System has been everything but idle. Under the authoritarian government led by Winson Duarte, the Martian Navy commander gone rogue, the Laconians have been busy developing warships armed with weapons powerful enough to invade the Solar System. They are ready to wage wars against everybody else.

Persepolis Rising
The lack of attention given to the Laconian System throughout the last few decades isn’t necessarily a blunder on the Solar System’s part. The galactic civilization is peaceful; a new coordination structure between Earth, Mars, and Belters brings all factions together in productive coexistence. There is also the newly established Transport Union (TU) run by an independent organization composed of individuals from the inner and outer planets. The current president of TU is Belter Camina Drummer. One of the major functions of the TU, headquartered on Medina Station, is to regulate traffic through the Ring. An increasing number of settlers carry on with the human expansion in space. The Solar System is in a great shape.

Captain James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante (XO Naomi, pilot Alex, mechanic Amos, and now assistant engineer Clarissa) are now on TU’s payroll. President Drummer has commissioned them to officially visit the Freehold System and announce an economic sanction because of the system’s repeated violation of the established guidelines. Some challenges arise, but nothing the Rocinante cannot handle and everyone makes a safe return to Medina Station.

The real problem presents itself a week after the mission. It is not from the Freehold, but the largely forgotten Laconian System. Under the command of Santiago Singh, the Laconians broadcast a brazen statement that they would take over Medina Station along with all the systems connected to the Gate Network. To make things more interesting, just two ships will carry the planned invasion out: the battlecruiser Heart of the Tempest and the destroyer Gathering Storm. The only problem is that they equip the two ships with weaponry technology far beyond everything else in the galaxy.

Suffering enough casualties, President Drummer surrenders the Medina Station to Singh. Unfortunately, it is the same thing with the Solar System; the Laconians have defeated nearly all the military fleet virtually suffering no meaningful damage. It is a near-total domination over the Solar System. They even claim that now every person is welcome as a Laconia, just as long as they stop resisting the will of the new government. In a similar fashion to the previous book, Babylon’s Ashes, there is a rebellion from within the criminal party triggered by poor leadership decisions. The rebellious Laconians take sides with the Rocinante and are determined to bring down a common enemy.

With the rebellion increasingly becoming more than just an annoyance but a formidable threat to Laconian’s supremacy in the Solar System, Singh orders the execution of a third of the population in the Media Station just to set an example. However, the current governor of Medina, appointed by the Laconian Empire, considers the order a violation of the empire’s code and executes Singh without hesitation. But then again, the battle doesn’t end with his death. It is still far from over and Captain Holden remains a captive.

As soon as the action picks up, the pace speeds up in rapid succession. Captain Holden finds himself “deliberately” captured on Gathering Storm to create a smokescreen, allowing Bobbie Draper and Amos to sabotage the ship with help from Alex. Meanwhile, Naomi and Clarissa focus their efforts on accessing the controls at Medina Station.

Persepolis Rising closes with Naomi and Alex aboard the Rocinante landing on a Freehold System territory. Bobbie and Amos end up on the Gathering Storm, which has now landed on a moon orbiting another planet in the same system. It is in a hidden cave, giving them the perfect place to think everything over and try to make sense of the attack and survival.

Captain Holden, alone without his crew, is taken to Laconia. He encounters Duarte, the High Consul of the Laconian Empire, who seems to hint that Holden’s experience with protomolecule shall be a valuable asset in the upcoming war.

We think by now readers realize that every book in The Expanse series has used the same formula repeatedly and never failed to impress. There will always be scenes of space warfare of spectacular scale intercepted by personal human moments to keep the story well balanced. Characterization has been on point and Persepolis Rising is no exception. Given the popular the series is and how well-accepted the book is by critics and readers alike, such a formula might be a major key to bringing back sci-fi once again to its golden days. Finally, after a long while, another mention of protomolecule in a seemingly high-stakes situation comes up again.

Have you finished Persepolis Rising? Who is your favorite villain in the series? We’d love to hear from you.

Other things you might want to know:

What exactly is Persepolis?

It is likely a reference to the ancient city of Persepolis, the capital of the first Persian Empire.

What to read next?

Before the 8th book in the series, Tiamat’s Wrath, get your hands on “Auberon.” Written also by James S. A. Corey, it is actually part of The Expanse but not included in the main storyline. Events in Auberon happen between the end of Persepolis Rising and before the start of Tiamat’s Wrath.

Is Auberon a continuation of Persepolis Rising?

While it is a novella in the same series, Auberon tells a separate story using different viewpoint characters. The book remains related to the mainline story, however.

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