The Expanse – Leviathan Wakes (1st Book Spoilers Only)

It takes some effort to get started on a new addiction.  I knew The Expanse series would be something I’d like so I stalled on reading them, fearing a time sink.  But it never went full scale addiction in the way A Song of Ice & Fire did.  I think the biggest factor there is when I fell into the fandom.  I read the first ASOI&F book before the first season of Game of Thrones and it didn’t really stick.  I thought, this is fine, but didn’t feel compelled to seek out the other books.  Then the drumbeat began for the TV show around the same time as the release for “A Dance With Dragons.”  But the biggest factor was this being around 2010-2012.  I didn’t have Netflix and the library of streaming services and 485 million saved podcasts.  Those weren’t as much of a thing yet.  So there was no competition for my attention in keeping the ASOI&F audiobooks on a continuous loop from 2013-2017.

Part of my desire to re-read now is other people online finding the series.  It always brings some glee seeing someone discover something you already like, The Expanse and Yellowjackets being two recent things that seem to bring new fans into their orbit regularly.  This essay is part review, part me getting my thoughts out so I remember them later.

I am also going to try very hard to avoid spoilers and context clues for future books until a separate section at the end. Some comparisons will be made for the first 15 episodes of the The Expanse TV Series that cover Leviathan Wakes.

The first Expanse book really hits this sense of a science fiction TTRPG adventuring party.  There’s an ASOI&F feel despite the genre change.  Leviathan Wakes is doing a lot of homework laying the foundation for the setting but it manages to avoid a lot of the early installment weirdness that ASOI&F ran into that either stayed weird or necessitated explanations later.  It does this by really dialing in on The Crew, our four main characters.  If you dig fewer pits you fall into fewer holes.  And if you’re writing a session for a roleplaying game the first thing to think about are your player characters.

This book sticks to a smaller cast with two narrators and five people in The Crew.  And they really do feel like characters that people would come up with in a TTRPG context.  They are all wildly proficient but very low-ranking in their jobs.  We create an instant connection among the characters by 4 of 5 characters being crewmates on The Canterbury.  This focus on The Crew also makes things feel more sci-fi than a fantasy epic like Critical Role or ASOI&F.  Let’s take a look at who these people are as they are presented in this first book.

Alex Kamal is The Pilot.  He honestly makes me want to be The Pilot in an RPG some day.  Alex is retired Martian Navy, middle-aged (although younger in this world where the normal lifespan is pushing the 100-115 range).  His role as The Pilot probably makes him the most straightforward and easily least complicated of The Crew.  Without spoiling future books, Alex is kind of The Constant.  In this book he is our ambassador to Mars as a faction and he drives the bus.  If you’re playing D&D someone has to be The Healer and if you’re having space adventures someone has to fly The Ship.  A later book refers to him as a mother hen and that’s the role he grows into.  In a very American TTRPG bit of character development, Alex hails from a part of Mars settled by Indians, Chinese, and a few Texans.  So of course in this English language series, everyone from that part of Mars has a thick Texas accent.

Amos Burton stands out a great deal in the books for Wes Chatham’s amazing performance in the TV Show.  He became the breakout character, that is the character who sort of eclipses the rest of the cast in popularity (See Also: Fonzie, Sheldon Cooper).  To the first time reader I think the writers didn’t quite have Amos fleshed out in this book maybe until the end.  In this first book Amos is The Mechanic but also The Big Guy.  He has a brother/sister relationship with Naomi and is kind of the violent one of the group.  Not like he’s evil, just, like an adventuring party the crew needs a fighter and it wasn’t going to be anyone else except Amos so he got that role.

Towards the end of Leviathan Wakes, when speaking with Miller, Amos says that Naomi is a good person, unlike him or Miller.  At another point, Holden says of Amos, “he thinks he’s a bad guy because he’s done some things he’s ashamed of.  He doesn’t trust himself but the fact that he cares tells me he isn’t a bad guy.”  Then when Fred implies that he could just take the protomolecule sample from The Ship instead of bartering with Holden, Holden orders Amos to shoot his way out of Tycho if anyone tries to come aboard.  Miller says that this isn’t a bluff, while Alex might hesitate to follow that order, Amos absolutely will.  These character moments all occur within about 30 pages of each other in the third act of the book.  I think at that point in the writing the authors maybe did not have that past fleshed out completely but they knew there was one.

Miller is the one member of The Crew that isn’t really on the crew.  He is one of two narrators in the book so half of Leviathan Wakes is from his perspective.  Miller almost comes out of a different genre than the rest of the characters.  When running a TTRPG, sometimes you get a player than just wants to do something different and possibly inappropriate to the spirit of the game.  The go to example of this is the player who always wants to be a ninja, regardless of the game.  You could be doing a game about a French inspired royal court, there are definitely places for a French Assassin, but this guy wants to wear black and have a katana.  Or from the other side, the player who wants to talk to everything in a tactical dungeon.  Miller, his full name is not important, is a hardboiled detective in a sci fi setting.

I’m struggling on what else to say about Miller.  I like him but he’s a tropey character.  He’s been a cop on Ceres for 30 years.  Ceres is the largest asteroid in the Asteroid Belt and in The Expanse universe it is now the largest city outside Mars and Earth with 6 million inhabitants.  It’s almost this Tortuga like metropolis.  In this setting Miller is also our ambassador to the culture of the Asteroid Belt, known as Belters.  But he’s kind a outsider in that culture?  Miller is a city boy who’s spent his whole life in Ceres.  He is of the culture of people that live in space and zero gravity but not one of them himself.  He also has an unmatched insight into people and motivations that he can then share with the audience or his earth born partner, our audience surrogate.

While Miller is a belter more by accident than anything else our archetypical Belter role is Naomi Nagata.  Naomi is an engineer, programmer, hacker, 2nd in command on the crew, and later on she and Holden begin a romance.  Like Amos I don’t think her entire past is fleshed out yet in this first book.  As a contrast to the other members of the crew who are military, law enforcement, or just good with guns, Naomi is almost the pacifist of the group.  In this book she is mostly a background character.  We are told that The Canterbury, our first ship in the book, is a dead end job for those who travel space for a living.  We are told that everyone is either unqualified or wildly overqualified and on the run.  Naomi is almost universally acknowledged as the smartest person on the crew but we don’t know why she was in a crappy job like hauling water on The Canterbury until later books.  While Miller is a creature of the city, Naomi has more of the Belter behaviors that she’s spent a lot of time on ships and in zero gravity.

Which leaves us with the last member of our crew, James Holden.  Holden is hard to talk about.  He is our captain.  In the third Dragon Age videogame, someone says that the person in charge is the person who can make the hard decisions and live with the consequences.  I think that quote applies to Holden.  While Amos has the ferocity and loyalty of an attack dog, Alex is a follower, Naomi can solve anything and always wants to do the right thing, but hates being in charge, Miller is a keen observer, Holden is very much the only leader in the bunch.  The crew can do anything but Holden’s the only one with a strong feeling of “here’s WHAT we should do and WHY we should do it.”  He’s righteous, concerned with justice, doing the right thing, and in general the instigator for a lot of the plot moments.  The conflict between what’s good and what’s right and how to achieve those ends is at the heart of this space opera of a story that unfolds over nine books.  I can’t find a primary source on this one, but a few outlets quote one of the authors as saying that Holden is meant to be a paladin in the D&D sense.  Being our main character Holden also has the blessing of being both lucky and constantly thrown into these insane situations.

I focus on the characters so much because they are the best part of this series.  Their lives and conflicts and choices and bouncing off each other dealing with science and space shit is why we’re all here.

Our story begins when The Canterbury finds a derelict ship called The Scopuli.  At the same time Miller on Ceres begins looking for a woman named Julie Mao who was aboard the Scopuli.

I was watching a reaction video to the Expanse TV series and someone was commenting what are the odds the Canterbury JUST HAPPENED to find the Scopuli.  I thought, okay, would you rather we just make the series about another group of characters then?

Our crew finds a distress signal on the Scopuli!  But it’s a trap and the rest of their crew on the Canterbury is blowed up!  So they run away!  And then they get rescued by this badass Martian Capital Ship.  But there are more ships approaching the Martian Capital Ship!  A canny reader sees the text laying the foundation of how badass the Martian Ship is and might recall Ser Imry Florent seeing no need for deceptive tactics on The Blackwater, so sure is he of victory.  Personally this reminded me of Deep Space Nine’s first encounter with The Dominion and the Jem’Hadar, where their small ships absolutely wreck a ship like The Enterprise.  It’s The Worf Effect.  We show how badass this thing is and oh shit this other thing just kicked its ass!

The crew is able to make off with (legitimately salvage) a smaller ship carried by the Martian capital ship before its destruction.  This is Our Ship for the purpose of our sci-fi narrative.  If you’re telling a story about Space Shit you need a cool ship.  You need a Millennium Falcon or Ebon Hawk or Serenity or Enterprise.  We now have (most of) our crew for the series and their ship, The Rocinante.

The crew decides to take the ship to Fred Johnson.  Fred’s an important secondary character who becomes the patron of our crew.  He was a marine colonel on Earth until he changed sides and joined the Belters resisting Earth and Mars.

While Earth and Mars are our most powerful factions, our series mostly centers around the travails of the Belters, the people who live on the Asteroid Belt and beyond on the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.  The closest thing they have to a central authority in this first book is the Outer Planets Alliance, The OPA.  Another character refers to the OPA as Space Hezbollah.  They have numerous factions ranging from moderates like Fred Johnson who want to set up a government to the violent extremists who want to bomb stuff.  Johnson is your archetypical Adventuring Party Patron who seems to have limitless financial resources but lacks trustworthy or deniable agents.

After meeting Fred Johnson at his space station, Tycho, The Crew gets some breathing room.  It’s the first time in the book they’re not on the run.  They really contemplate “why don’t we just get jobs here?”  It leans on the 4th Wall a bit and reminds me of The Stand, when the good guys get to Colorado and wonder “why don’t we just stay here and not make trouble?”  Then the plot finds them.

While the crew is getting shot at and chased to Tycho, Miller The Hardboiled Detective and Worst Space Person Ever is chasing Julie Mao.  His story is almost out of a different genre.  It’s a film noir investigation that alternates chapters with Holden’s space adventure.  Miller’s story reminds me of a movie with really good dialogue you could listen to forever that doesn’t actually mean anything or have a great story along with it.

Miller is a cop tasked with finding a missing woman named Julie Mao and “returning” her to her family.  He calls it a “kidnap job” so I guess there’s an implication this has been done before but there are zero details.  While Miller’s chapters are on the surface about him trying to find Julie what his chapters are actually about is introducing the audience to the culture of Belters.  Belter Culture is the most interesting and original idea in the series.  What happens to people who grow up in these artificial environments without gravity?

This really comes to a head when news of the Canterbury’s destruction reaches Ceres.  Miller’s partner is from Earth and he’s our audience surrogate.  His job in the plot is to say, “wait who cares about one ship blowing up, this does not cause a water shortage and is objectively not a problem.”  Miller’s job is to explain to the audience that Belters do not take an objective view on things concerning survival.  He looks down on his partner as someone who grew up with free water and free air and takes them for granted.  Even though Miller, a lifelong Ceres resident, has never wanted for water or air.  In Miller’s words, belters “have no sense of humor about that shit.”  Miller is smart enough to know how his people will react to this even if he doesn’t feel a need to riot himself.

Holden and Miller have related but separate stories that meet up about halfway through the book.  In both stories if you squint a bit you can see the authors’ thumbs on the scales.  For Miller, his case investigating Julie Mao involves him getting a lead and then being jerked around.  His captain tells him “Look into the case!” and then almost immediately as Ceres is plunged into chaos she wants him to drop it.  We almost need another chapter for Miller’s boss to actually want him to solve the case but it doesn’t work with the alternating POV format of the book.  Miller’s boss indicates he only got this case because he’s a joke but when shit goes down and riots engulf Ceres, Miller is handpicked as a team leader to help rein that chaos in.  It doesn’t make much sense that he’s clearly very good at his job while at the same time we are told he’s a joke.

The best defense I can offer is that Miller is a bit like Nic Cage’s character in the movie, Snake Eyes.  Spoilers for a 1998 movie.  Nic Cage is a cop in Atlantic City.  There’s a murder.  Nic Cage investigates and realizes there’s a conspiracy.  Nic Cage is told that he only got the job investigating the conspiracy because the conspirators know he’s corrupt and can be bought.  Then Nic Cage has to decide if he wants to stay corrupt and shut his eyes or find the truth and face the consequences.

Actually Nic Cage in Snake Eyes is exactly like Miller in Leviathan Wakes.

Holden’s story I think gets weaker when The Crew gets to The Donnager, the Martian capital ship.  Julie’s ship the Scopuli gets set out as a trap, the Canterbury stops, the bad guys blow it up.  But then the bad guys chase Holden and attack the Donnager.  The bad guys all die when the Donnager’s self-destruct is activated.  This, in hindsight, feels like workmanship to Get Us To The Plot.  The Crew Needs A Ship and they need to get on the Julie Mao hunt.  But the part where the bad guys make a suicide attack on the Donnager is the part that doesn’t make sense.  We need to get the ship but did the bad guys really think this was going to work?  What was their goal, how was that goal helped by attacking the Donnager?  How well are these guys getting paid to bull rush a Martian Capital Ship?  We are told the bad guys want to start a war in the Belt as a distraction…was this the best way to do that?

Holden and Miller meet up on Eros when they find Julie Mao, dead by a strange alien virus which is then spread to the rest of Eros.  Their adventure on Eros took a lot longer and was more harrowing than I remember it in the TV series.  The book really sells how close Miller and Holden came to death.  From here we follow breadcrumbs.  Julie’s body leads them to the Anubis, the ship she used to get from the Scopuli to Eros.  The Anubis leads them to a space station called Thoth because we’re sticking with the Egyptian theme I guess.  The Rocinante and Fred Johnson’s OPA militia head to Thoth armed and ready to solve this mystery and take us into the third act of the story.

Let’s pause there for a moment to discuss a few odds and ends before getting to Thoth Station.

I have not mentioned one of Holden’s character defining behaviors.  During the story Holden makes several broadcasts to the solar system that really kick the plot forward.  In universe these broadcasts also make Holden a celebrity.  Holden’s first broadcast is after the Canterbury is destroyed.  Holden and his adventuring party go to check the Scopuli, they find a transmitter on it.  The transmitter is Martian so Holden broadcasts “hey we found a transmitter built by Mars.”  Shortly after this, Holden makes his second broadcast, “Hey the Martian navy is coming to arrest us.”  Holden’s third broadcast is just after the crew meets Miller and escapes Eros.  Holden broadcasts “hey the ships that blew up the Canterbury and Donnager were built on Earth.”

While the second broadcast is fairly benign the other two broadcasts have the consequence of starting, according to the text, “The Largest Wars in Human History.”  Every other person in humanity takes the first broadcast to mean, “hey Mars blew up the Canterbury” and the 3rd to mean “hey Earth started all this.”  Holden is legit confused the first reaction to his broadcasts.  He didn’t say Mars did it, he said someone with their gear did it.  When Naomi pushes back on this, Holden responds, “I didn’t say anything that wasn’t entirely factual and backed up by the data I transmitted, and I engaged in no speculation about those facts.”  This has the tenor of a prepared response, like someone who has to explain a past arrest in a job interview.

Holden, at least in this first book, has a thing about giving everyone all the information as it’s available.  Miller finds this idiotic and naïve.  Miller relates a story about a kidnapping he investigated where the obvious suspect turned out to be not guilty but if he’d given everyone constant updates that suspect would’ve been lynched or at least unjustly prosecuted.  In the second book a character says about Holden, “if he realizes he’s being watched, he’ll start broadcasting pictures of all our intelligence sources or something. Do not underestimate his capacity to fuck things up.”

After the third broadcast, Miller actually hurls a coffee cup at Holden which I didn’t remember.  He does not hold back in telling Holden that these were stupid ideas and he should not have done them.  Again, Holden is a Paladin who doesn’t understand and Miller has a nigh-superhuman level of insight into people.  After the third broadcast, Earth gets into the war by blowing up one of Mars’s two moons.  I think by the end of this book Holden is a bit closer to believing those broadcasts were stupid ideas and he should not have done them.  He dials it way back in future books to the point that this behavior is almost early installment weirdness but the broadcasts remain “The thing people know about James Holden.”

One thing I didn’t think about until this reread, we don’t get any perspective from Earth in this book.  The show has Chrisjen Avasarala in every episode throughout because when you hire Shohreh Aghdashloo you fucking use her.  In the book the attack on the Martian moon comes out of nowhere after Holden says “hey these ships were probably built on Earth.”  I checked and they never actually mention Deimos by name in the second book, Avasarala never reflects on it or offers insight into how the decision was made.

The chapters between Eros and Thoth, philosophizing over lasagna are my favorite part of the book.  It’s downtime with the player characters to just roleplay and be themselves.

These chapters also give us the beginning of the Naomi/Holden romance.  And it is AWKWARD to start.  Holden professes his love to Naomi after Eros when he’s come within inches of dying.  Naomi gently rejects him as she’s The Only Woman On Ship after knowing each other for years and she genuinely likes Holden.  She’s seen him fall in love for six months at a time with various women for years.  Holden then pines after her in a kinda creepy way.  Later, on Tycho, after Thoth Station, Naomi suggests they try being together.  Holden does not understand what’s changed.  Naomi, again gently, says she didn’t say never.  She said don’t start with a deathbed declaration of love when she’s the only woman on the ship.  They’re kind of sweet together I guess?  It’s fine.  I think their relationship works because, against all the other characters in the series, Holden and Naomi are the most moral people.  What Would Naomi Do is a pretty good barometer for the choice with the greatest possible good.

Thoth Station and the battle around it is the close of the second act or maybe the start of the third.  This is when the good guys finally mix it up with the actual bad guys rather than squabbling over politics and getting caught in misunderstandings.

I’ve watched the Thoth episode of the TV series more than most other episodes because it is exciting and action packed.  Thus I forgot a lot of the details until this re-read.  I forgot the crew actually has a communications blackout as they’re inbound to the space station.  They’re flying dark so radios are off, lights are off, and the ship is vented of air meaning they can’t talk and banter in blue lighting like they do in the show.  I did remember that in the book the Rocinante actually has to fight two ships instead of one like the show but I did not remember how badly the Roci got fucked up in that battle.  In the same vein that Holden and Miller’s escape from Eros is near fatal and harrowing, the Rocinante also barely survives its first battle.

The show really plays up the horror of Thoth Station more.  The place is poorly lit and looks haunted.  The book, with the limitless budget of imagination, sticks to weirdness.  On page, the space station is described as prison architecture with a spa’s luxury.  The guards use mostly non-lethal weaponry and several times our heroes are attacked by scientists.  Once boarded, victory isn’t really in doubt.  Miller is our POV inside the space station as the good guys fight their way to Dresden, the person running the show on Thoth.

Dresden is a whole ass different character from book to TV show.  The book character is wearing an extremely expensive suit and is so fucking smarmy.  Both characters though are essentially trying to make a deal for their lives and research although in completely different tones.  Book Dresden is confident and knows that he has essentially unlimited resources to offer while TV Dresden is harried and implies he doesn’t care if the station is working for the OPA or for Earth.  There’s a ticking clock element in the book that isn’t in the show.  In the book the good guys know that the bad guys have called for backup and it’s just a matter of time before they show up even if that could be days or weeks away.  Fred Johnson barely says a word in the book while TV Fred starts to accept Dresden’s deal.  The show also oversimplifies things by showing Cortazar being the Sole Survivor of the science team instead of just, the only scientist we meet in a later book.

It ends the same way though.  Miller shoots Dresden in the head and then a few more times to grow on.  One of the first things Miller says in the story is that Ceres, the biggest city in the belt, doesn’t have laws.  It has cops.  People just live and inertia carries things forward.  When some administrator tried to save money by not changing the air filters fast enough and winds up flayed the cops don’t investigate.  When there’s a change of government and everything is chaos on Ceres, Miller’s partner excuses herself to go put a bullet in a rapist she could never quite make a case against.  There’s no laws but there are cops.  Which is why when Holden asks Miller why he killed Dresden, Miller responds, “I’m a cop.”

This takes us into our third act where the characters have to decide what to do about Eros.  Eros was infected with an alien virus and was last seen crawling with zombies.  Miller spends a lot of this time picturing Julie Mao.  He is honest with himself that this is an imagined form of Julie Mao, that he never knew the real woman but he approved of her being a fighter for what she believed in.  I guess that self-honesty makes it less creepy that he keeps thinking of this woman 20-30 years younger than him but it doesn’t really seem like a romantic infatuation?

Eros, like Ceres, is an actual asteroid in our real Asteroid Belt and it is one of the largest asteroids so it has a city on it.  The characters decide to ram the thing with a gigantic spaceship to knock it into the sun after planting some nukes.  Miller helps plant the nukes and then decides to stay on Eros.  In the TV show, Miller stays behind because the nuke malfunctions.  He’s making a heroic sacrifice.  In the book, Miller is explicitly killing himself.

But that doesn’t happen the way he expects.  The giant spaceship misses Eros.  In both book and show this is an incredible moment.  In the show I love the wordless scream as the ship sails past Eros.  It’s wonderful and creepy.  In the book though, Eros is continuously broadcasting sound including actual words.  In the book the station suddenly broadcasts “Don’t touch me!” as the ship nears.  Miller and the Rocinante crew immediately tell the audience the scientific significance of what just happened.  An asteroid can’t just move out of orbit.  This is the first time in the series that the alien technology, the protomolecule, changes or at least bends the laws of physics in a way indistinguishable from magic.  This kicks us into the endgame of our story.

The TV show has a lot of visible emotion and shouting in these final moments but the book is less dramatic.  The show makes a great spectacle of the Rocinante chasing Eros.  Lots of intense shouting.  “BACK OFF!” “I CAN’T DO THAT!”  “TAP THE BRAKES THEN ASSHOLE!” In the book Holden gives up the pursuit when Fred tells him to kill himself and his crew to keep pace.  Instead they come up with a scientific solution that doesn’t require them to choose, “do we keep chasing and die or do we let humanity die.”  Holden is initially choosing ‘let humanity die’ but they realize they can just activate some device that has tracking on Eros itself rather than keeping pace with the asteroid as it hurtles towards Earth.

There’s some great body horror here.  Miller sees spiders but nope they’re actually severed hands crawling around like spiders.  One key plot point here is that Holden offers to give Fred the sample of the protomolecule he has in exchange for giving Miller more time on Eros to try and divert it from crashing into Earth.  This also gives Fred Earth’s stock of nukes when they’re launched at Eros.  The show just cuts that Gordian Knot.  Miller, instead of needing more time, just gets to Julie Mao when he needs to without a chapter of him wandering around Eros looking for her.  Earth remains a black box throughout this, we never get insight into their decisions until the next book with the addition of Avasarala as a character with a POV set on Earth.  Miller is able to get to this new version of Julie Mao, who’s sentience allows Miller to convince her/the alien technology, to crash into Venus instead of Earth.

Venus is kind of a running joke or foreshadowing, probably both, in this first book.  While Mars is settled with 4 billion people and humanity is spread throughout the solar system, we never quite figured out how to settle on the toxic atmosphere of Venus.

The book ends with Fred Johnson about to give a press conference.  He and Holden discuss Miller’s character and legacy.  Holden advocates telling the truth.  Johnson thinks of himself and Miller as symbols rather than the flawed complicated people they actually are.  In the end Fred decides that giving people The Truth would be noble and it would end in failure.  This seems to be the book passing judgement on Holden’s methods.

The first time I read this book I literally could not put it down.  I reached for my kindle or my headphones every spare moment I had until the thing was done.


Spoilers for Future Books!

In general this book focuses way more on drugs than future books.  We are informed each time people are taking the drugs that makes life in space possible.  In the kind of handwavey science sense that makes this universe possible, If I had to explain the technology level of The Expanse in a few seconds to someone who doesn’t understand it I’d say, we have the drugs and drives necessary to make life and travel in space economical. That and The Recycler.

One thing I remember from the first read of Leviathan Wakes was that people mention “dropping rocks” multiple times in this first book.  Essentially, interstellar war is easy if you just want to kill everyone.  If we have the science to put people in space then we jolly well have the science to fling rocks at planets and cause extinction level events.  If the characters mentioned it once it would be foreshadowing.  But the characters mention it four times by my count which takes it to the level of telegraphing what’s going to happen.  When the Belters start to go to war against Mars the first question is, “Are They Dropping Rocks?”  They don’t.  Yet.

Shout out to one line in the final book compared to this first book.  Holden has eight parents.  Essentially with 30 billion people on Earth people are given significant incentives to have fewer children.  Holden refers to the 22 acres of farmland in Montana he grew up on as “a National Park” in this view of the future.  Mars, Holden reflects, has the space and resources for “traditional” families.  I’m sure the authors, writing in the late 2000s, meant something more like a nuclear family.  In the last book, Leviathan Falls, early in the book we are introduced to a high ranking Laconian general who mentions that he has two husbands.  I wish they weren’t part of a fascist empire that killed billions of people but I’m happy for these three men.  How far they came from book one to book nine.

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