Last year, James S. A. Corey — the pen name used by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck — wrapped up their acclaimed Expanse space opera series with Memory’s Legion, a collection of short stories set within their elaborate sci-fi universe. The Expanse contains everything you could possibly want from a sci-fi series — rich world-building, heady concepts, memorable characters, great dialog, thrilling action — and comes with my highest recommendation. (The TV series that it inspired is pretty awesome, too.)
Abraham and Franck are clearly not done with the genre, and have announced another space opera project. Inspired by the Old Testament’s Book of Daniel, and described as “the disappointing love child of Frank Herbert and Ursula Le Guin,” The Captive’s War trilogy is set in a distant future where humans are enslaved by a vast and violent empire that is, itself, facing a mysterious threat.
From the official synopsis, courtesy of Tor:
How humanity came to the planet called Anjiin is lost in the fog of history, but that history is about to end.
The Carryx — part empire, part hive — have waged wars of conquest for centuries, destroying or enslaving species across the galaxy. Now, they are facing a great and deathless enemy. The key to their survival may rest with the humans of Anjiin.
Caught up in academic intrigue and affairs of the heart, Dafyd Alkhor is pleased just to be an assistant to a brilliant scientist and his celebrated research team. Then the Carryx ships descend, decimating the human population and taking the best and brightest of Anjiin society away to serve on the Carryx homeworld, and Dafyd is swept along with them.
They are dropped in the middle of a struggle they barely understand, set in a competition against the other captive species with extinction as the price of failure. Only Dafyd and a handful of his companions see past the Darwinian contest to the deeper game that they must play to survive: learning to understand — and manipulate — the Carryx themselves.
With a noble but suicidal human rebellion on one hand and strange and murderous enemies on the other, the team pays a terrible price to become the trusted servants of their new rulers.
Dafyd Alkhor is a simple man swept up in events that are beyond his control and more vast than his imagination. He will become the champion of humanity and its betrayer, the most hated man in history and the guardian of his people.
This is where his story begins.
The Daniel parallels are already pretty evident. Just as Daniel was taken to Babylon to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar, where he becomes a highly regarded advisor and is subsequently embroiled in court politics, Dafyd Alkhor and his companions are taken in by the Carryx Empire and become their trusted servants. The Captive’s War seems to really play up the ramifications of collaborating with the enemy, though, and that bit about the Carryx “facing a great and deathless enemy” is certainly intriguing. We’ll have to wait and see, however, if the Carryx have any alien equivalents for the lions’ den or fiery furnace.
The first book of The Captive’s War trilogy — The Mercy of Gods — will be released by Orbit Books on August 6, 2024.