Don Quixote is the name of the main character of the Spanish novel of the same name (fully titled The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha) from the early 17th century by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra.
There are several references to the novel in The Expanse:
Holden punched the comm system on the wall. "Well, crew, welcome aboard the gas freighter Rocinante."
"What does that name even mean?" Naomi said after he let go of the comm button.
"It means we need to go find some windmills," Holden said over his shoulder as he headed to the lift.
- In Leviathan Wakes, a main plot point is the that Holden often is naïve, impulsive and over-idealistic in his pursuit of chivalrous action; he is acting quixotically, a word derived from Don Quixote.
After his discovery of the Rocinante, he could hardly avoid the word quixotic.
- The first episode of The Expanse is titled "Dulcinea", the name Don Quixote bestows upon the fictionalized version of his unrequited love.
- The seventh episode of The Expanse is titled "Windmills", which Don Quixote fights because he believes them to be giants; this is the origin of the English idiom "tilting at windmills".
Miller stroked his chin; five days of stubble had almost reached the beginning of a beard. He felt a smile starting. He did a definition search on Rocinante. Literally meaning "no longer a workhorse," its first entry was as the name of Don Quixote's horse. "That you, Holden?" Miller said to the screen. "You out tilting at windmills?"
- In the episode "Windmills", Holden's mother and Avasarala briefly discuss the book Don Quixote, and what it meant to Holden as a child. His physical paper copy is out on a shelf. Avasarala touches it with reverence, saying 'Cervantes'. His mother explains that as a child Holden 'fancied himself as a knight' and that 'he thought it was funny'. She goes on to say that she'd 'never had the heart to tell him it's actually a tragedy.'
- In "Fight or Flight", Holden uses the expression "tilting at windmills" to describe his tendency to take on fights that he cannot win.