Gods of Risk by James S A Corey
After taking a break to tackle new Malazan and First Law books, it’s time to head back into The Expanse. As I did for Caliban’s War, I decided to work up to book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, by reading one of the novellas. Gods of Risk is a much more substantial read than The Butcher of Anderson Station: I enjoyed it very much.
Gods of Risk takes place on Mars, a location we haven’t actually been to yet in the main series. David Draper is the cousin of Bobbie Draper, the marine who teamed up with Avasarala in Caliban’s War, who is now living with her family to recuperate from her PTSD. David is a talented scientist with a bright future ahead of him furthering the growth of Mars. He is also synthesising drugs and selling them to a brutal dealer to earn a little extra cash. It isn’t long before his worlds collide and David comes to understand the brutal Martian criminal underworld.
Novellas in an established setting, which tie into a series of novels, can feel a bit unsatisfying; I referred to some of the stories in Abercrombie’s Sharp Ends as ‘deleted scenes’. The Butcher of Anderson Station was a bit like this, but Gods of Risk certainly isn’t. It tells a neat, tidy, self-contained story and just so happens to include a character from another novel in a supporting role. The main two novels of the series so far have both dealt with the highest stakes imaginable; the extinction of humanity. Gods of Risk shows that the authors are just as capable of playing with lower, more personal stakes, with this novella feeling remarkably tense throughout. There are no major surprises or twists, but it all rollicks along at a nice pace whilst not forgetting to develop its characters.
Gods of Risk is a much more ‘essential’ read than The Butcher of Anderson Station, particularly if you liked Bobbie in Caliban’s War. I read it as a warm up for the next main novel but ended up really enjoying it in its own right. Next up Abaddon’s Gate!