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Nemesis Games is the fifth novel in The Expanse series. It was released on June 2, 2015.[1]

Its working title was revealed on March 3, 2014[2] and its release window on June 17.[3]


A thousand worlds have opened, and the greatest land rush in human history has begun. As wave after wave of colonists leave, the power structures of the the old solar system begin to buckle.

Ships are disappearing without a trace. Private armies are being secretly formed. The sole remaining protomolecule sample is stolen. Terrorist attacks previously considered impossible bring the inner planets to their knees. The sins of the past are returning to exact a terrible price.

And as a new human order is struggling to be born in blood and fire, James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante must struggle to survive and get back to the only home they have left.


A 15 year-old Belter operative named Filip and a small team infiltrate the twin Earth/Mars shipyards on Callisto to steal canisters of high-density resonance coating, stealth tech used on Martian military ships. They have a ship in orbit called the Pella that released tungsten slugs in adavance of the raid. The infiltrators target the Martian ships in orbit, as well as the Martian marines in power armor on the surface and the tungsten slugs are activated to strike and destroy the targets. The team suffers a few casualties, but manages to escape with their loot, just as their ship launches a rock into the moon.

A year after the Callisto attack and six days after they got back from Ilus, the crew of the Rocinante arrive at Tycho Station for repairs. Tycho's new chief engineer, William Sakai, estimates they will take around six months. Alex doesn't like how he left things with his ex-wife and plans to visit her on Mars. Amos needs to head back to Earth because a woman he knows, Lydia Allen, has died. Naomi wants to hire more crew, in case anything happens to any of them. She gets a call from someone in the OPA telling her that Filip is in trouble.

Fred Johnson tells Holden that he is headed to Medina Station, as that is where all the power is. He and Avasarala are back-channeling a lot of the dealings, but Fred is concerned about all the offshoot branches of the OPA, with interstellar travel now feasible, life on space stations is going to die out, but the Belters aren't all physically capable of living on the planets. Apart from Callisto, they made an attempt at attacking Earth as well.

Naomi tells Jim that she needs to go to Ceres, alone, and that he needs to let her go or they will have to break up. She leaves, and Holden is completely alone for the first time in years. Later, he gets a call from journalist Monica Stuart, who is also on Tycho, and she asks to meet up. Over dinner, she shows him a video of a freighter that went through one of the wormholes and disappeared.

Alex visits his wife, Talissa, when he gets to Mars, but she angrily tells him to go. He gives Bobbie Draper a ring to see if she wants to meet up, and she agrees.

Upon arriving in New York, Amos is promptly arrested and taken to an interrogation room at the police station. Chrisjen Avasarala greets him via TV monitor and asks him what his intention is on Earth, if Holden sent his "hired killer" to take out Murtry or something of the sort. Once he assures her he's there on a personal errand, he's free to go. Amos looks up Lydia's obituary and finds that her husband, Charles, was the last to see her alive. Amos goes to meet him.

Monica informs Holden that the Rabia Balkhi is only one of thirteen ships that have disappeared after going through one of the Rings, and no one is talking about it. She knows about Fred's sample of protomolecule and wants to use it to consult proto-Miller; Holden rejects her demand and thinks the OPA may be involved in the disappearances. He broaches his theory with Fred, who promptly invalidates it.

On Ceres, Naomi meets up with an old friend, a massive Belter called Cyn, who takes her to see Filip, Naomi's son to Marco Inaros. It is then revealed that Naomi left Marco after he had used a program she wrote to sabotage the fusion reactor on the ship Augustin Gamarra, killing 234 people; this was the initial OPA rebellion, after the UN shut down the proposed Belter homeworld, Terryon Lock, in the Jovian system. Afterwards, she tried to kill herself. Marco told her to leave and not to come looking for him or Filip.

Filip wanted her to bring the Roci to take to the Hungaria group of asteroids where they have a ship called the Pella. With the Roci still being repaired, she purchases a ship covertly through Outer Fringe Exports.

Amos heads to Philly and meets up with Lydia's widowed husband, Charles. He knows Amos as Timothy, and is aware of the fact that Lydia was Timothy's surrogate mother after his biological mother died. Charles says that with Lydia gone, he can no longer afford the house, which was being floated by a gangster named Erich.

Amos goes to visit Erich in Baltimore, who used to be a small time hacker. He had one tiny little arm and one regular one, and is now running the streets that he and Amos used to work. Erich says he treated Lydia very well, but Amos insists he take care of Charles, too. Erich agrees, so Amos refrains from killing him. Erich is grateful, but tells him there was a flechette turret hidden in the ceiling. Before Amos leaves Earth, he calls Avasarala and asks her to let him see Clarissa Mao, who he became fond of when they escorted her as a prisoner.

Alex goes to visit Bobbie. She'd been investigating the sources of black market military equipment leaving Mars for Avasarala, and she asks Alex if he would help her by talking to some of his buddies in the MCRN. The second time he visits her, he finds a small group of men that have broken into Bobbie's house and tied her up. He calls for emergency services, then rushes in to save her. He gets stabbed and she gets shot, but they survive. Bobbie tells him the men were there looking for him. He says he'll stay and help her.

Holden pays a "data wonk" called Paula Gutierrez to write him a program to find any ships that may be suspicious. When he tells Monica, she's upset that he's brought Fred, Sakai, and Paula in on the investigation, especially since they're all OPA. The next day, he gets a hit on a ship called the Pau Kant located in the Hungaria asteroid group that is relatively close to Earth and Mars. He calls Alex and asks him to check it out before he comes back, then tries to track down Monica again, but her room on Tycho has been ransacked and she's missing. He warns Fred that he's got OPA radicals on the station.

Alex and Bobbie make it to the hospital and survive their respective surgeries. Bobbie reasons she was attacked because, via the Roci, Alex is involved with Mars, Fred (OPA), and Avasarala (UN). Bobbie says that while the Donnager-class warships are well tracked, the corvettes they carried were less so, and with all the battles lately, they were turning up and disappearing quite a bit. Someone high up in the Navy would have to be involved for the level of clearance required in overwriting the records; that's what she wants Alex to look in to, while she looks into who hired their attackers. Alex gets Holden's message about checking on the ship in the Hungarian cluster; Bobbie says Avasarala gave her Julie Mao's ship, the Razorback, and that he can use it.

Holden and Fred check the security footage and see two guys in jumpsuits and caps go into Monica's room and leave with a shipping crate. They go to the dock and find the crate, but it is revealed to be empty, thus someone must've edited the security footage. Fred puts the station on lockdown. Back in Monica's quarters, Holden finds that her phone seems to be receiving a signal from the hidden camera she wears for interviews. They track her to a sealed cargo crate and find her inside, drugged and tied-up, but mostly unharmed.

Alex meets with one of his MCRN friends at a restaurant who arranges an appointment with Commander Duarte. He has noticed the missing ships, too, even the same one Alex is tracking, the Apalala. Duarte tells him that the tracking of supplies, ships, and material collapses, and they have no idea what they are missing. He tells Alex to meet up with a programmer named Kaarlo that first noticed the discrepancies in the database. Alex goes to his place only to find him dead. Alex asks Bobbie to go check out the asteroid Holden told him about, and she agrees to come with him.

Fred gets in touch with Anderson Dawes, another OPA bigwig, who points him towards chief engineer Sakai. Fred interrogates Sakai, who spills that he was involved. He skirted around Fred because he is racist against Earthers, even if Fred is loyal to the OPA. Fred punches him out and throws him in the brig.

The ship Naomi purchased is called the Chetzemoka. When it is ready to board, she pulls Filip aside and tells him she is not able to come along on their mission but, that she wants him to have the ship, and that afterwards, there will be a spot for him on the Roci if he wants to come with her. The giant guy, her friend, Cyn, puts Naomi in a bearhug, while Karal sticks her with a needle full of sedatives.

When they get near the Hungaria cluster, Alex realizes that they were being painted with a targeting laser. He makes some scans himself and gets ping after ping of Martian corvette class ships running dark. The ships let loose a couple of missiles, and Alex takes off at 10 g towards Luna, where the Martian Prime Minister has a convoy, hoping they can make it in time for the Prime Minister's ships' PDC cannons to take out the missiles. Alex ups the acceleration to 15 g, and it rips the wound open in his stomach. Before he passes out, he jettisons the core and it crashes into the first of the missiles. The Martian PDCs take out the other.

Naomi is taken to the Martian corvette where Marco Inaros is. He tells her he brought her there to keep her safe, because she is one of them, but she is pretty sure he just wanted the Roci for himself. Ostensibly, the attack they are planning is because the Earthers are abandoning their entire race to die, since Belters cannot survive in planetary gravity. A racing ship arrives at their location, the Razorback, and Marco orders its destruction. Naomi is locked up and forced to watch the newsfeed of Marco's assault on Earth.

While Amos is in the waiting room to see Clarissa Mao, the news reports that an asteroid hit somewhere in North Africa, causing tremendous damage. Guards take Amos to Clarissa's underground cell, and he tells her about all that has happened with the Roci since they dropped her off. In the middle of his story, the place goes on lockdown. A guard tells them that multiple other accelerated rocks have impacted around the globe, causing massive destruction worldwide. The rocks were undetected because they were hidden with stealth coating.

On Tycho, Fred and Holden are watching the news when three people enter the office and start shooting. Fred is hit, but he and Holden manage to kill/fend off their attackers; however, the station's defense grid is disabled and someone fires torpedoes at them. One torpedo hits and cracks the drive cone. Fred and Drummer coordinate an attack on the intruders in engineering and regain control of the station. A second torpedo with a salvage mechanism on the end impacts Fred's office and escapes with the protomolecule sample.

Amos convinces the guards they need to get out of the prison before the building collapses, and they reluctantly agree. With the help of a prisoner called Konecheck, who has enhanced strength like Clarissa's, they manage to crawl up the elevator shaft to the surface. Konecheck kills a few of the guards and injures Amos before Mao shoots him and Amos kicks him down the elevator shaft. The surface is totally devastated and the sky is so dark with debris that Clarissa mistakes the Sun for the Moon. Amos suggests they walk to Baltimore because he knows some people that can get him to Luna.

Naomi tells Filip that after Marco made her kill, she wanted to kill herself; she tells him to come find her when the remorse of killing a quarter billion people sets in. He tells her she is merde to him.

Alex and Bobbie meet with the Martian Prime Minister Smith while they convalesce. They debrief for hours. The Martians are glad Alex and Bobbie intercepted the hidden fleet, or matters could've been even worse. Seven relief ships are en route; one of them is the Chetzemoka, however, the ship Naomi gave Filip.

Fred Johnson asks Holden to take him to a meeting on Luna with the Martian Prime Minister and Avasarala, who was appointed the interim Secretary-General of the UN. Fred plays Holden a message he got from Anderson Dawes, asking Fred to join with the new faction of the OPA. Holden is appalled, but Johnson is actually considering it. Medina Station goes dark, and Drummer reports twenty-five Martian ships are en route to it.

Naomi asks Marco if he brought her aboard just to show off; he reiterates that he brought her there to save her and to get closure. She insists it is because he is jealous of Holden, which infuriates him. She pieces things together and realizes Sakai must've used her old program to sabotage the reactor driver on the Roci.

Amos and "Peaches" (AKA Clarissa Mao) kill some doomsday prepper and load up on weapons, supplies, and a couple of bicycles. They ride to Baltimore and meet up with Erich, then proposition him to go to Luna with them, by way of a private launch pad on Lake Winnipesaukee. At first, he's incredulous that they would ask him to abandon his territory but, when Peaches breaks his wall of denial and he realizes he has got nothing left, he agrees.

Alex, Bobbie, and the Martian Prime Minister are forced to flee their Martian convoy in the Razorback when the relief ships turn out to be OPA-controlled. They attack and board the Martian ships without much resistance. The Razorback, accompanied by about 100 Martian missiles flying in tandem alongside them, makes for Luna, with the OPA ships in pursuit.

During the battle with the MCRN convoy, Naomi breaks into an access panel and broadcasts a message to Holden warning him that the Roci's fusion driver has been sabotaged with bad code. Marco tells her that since she sabotaged his plan, which was only to shut the Roci down, not destroy it, she has forced his hand. He plays her a faked distress call in her voice, asking Holden to come save her. On the way back to her cell, she stops at the med bay and starts a kerfuffle there, during which she manages to pocket an emergency decompression kit, which could cycle the airlock on the Chetzemoka.

Holden receives Naomi's message just in time. They shut down the drive at 60% and reload a new driver. His hired programmer, Paula, finds the bad lines of code in the sabotaged driver and tells him that when the reactor hit 95%, it would have lost containment and taken most of Tycho Station with it. She realizes this could have been what happened during all the reactor accidents in the past, meaning they were all murders. Holden, Fred, and a crew of Tycho workers depart in the Roci, leaving Drummer in charge of Tycho.

Marco issues a statement from the Pella, declaring himself the commander of the Free Navy and saying that the MCR and the UN no longer control anything outside their respective planets. He calls for everyone from the Belt and the outer planets to rise up and follow them.

Amos, Erich, and Peaches make their way to the Lake where the shuttles are. They find one named the Zhang Guo, but it needs repairing, and there is a tribe of people trying to shake them down. Amos beats one of them, then they start repairing the shuttle. Just as they are doing final testing on it, the tribe returns with many more people and many more guns. Amos' group manages to stave them off long enough to launch the shuttle. They successfully make it past Luna's patrol defenses after Amos name-drops Avasarala. Erich offers to let him run the crew but, Amos just wants to get back to the Roci. Clarissa is afraid they are going to send her back to jail, but he assures her that there is no jail to go back to.

On the Pella, Naomi escapes from her handler and makes it to an airlock, intending to escape to the Chetzemoka without an EVA suit. Her buddy, Cyn, comes after her, thinking she is going to space herself, but she sorrowfully blows the airlock anyway, killing him. She barely makes it to the other ship in time and opens the airlock with the emergency decompression kit she stole earlier. She finds that the ship has been mostly stripped bare, all access panels are locked, it is broadcasting a faked message saying she is aboard and needs help, and it is set to blow if anyone gets close to it. She starts pulling wires and turns one of the thrusters off, making her go in circles; she also short circuits the faked message.

Alex receives Naomi's message and takes the Razorback to cautiously investigate. With no way to communicate, Naomi exits the ship through the airlock in a suit with only five minutes of air. She uses Belter hand signals, so they know not to get close to the ship. Bobbie uses the magnetic boots on her power armor to ride one of the Razorback's missiles like a surf board and successfully rescues Naomi. Once safely aboard, Naomi tells them to blow up the vessel.

Holden makes a rendezvous with the Razorback and immediately gets Naomi to the med-bay, since she has suffering from space exposure and plenty of other traumas. They all make it back to Luna and meet up with Amos, who smuggles Clarissa Mao onto the Roci in a cargo container.

Avasarala calls them all together for an announcement: she is going to start a policing task force against the Free Navy, with joint support from the UN, the MCR, and the OPA. Naomi is brought in as a prisoner, and agrees to cooperate and tell everything about Marco if she and the crew of the Roci are given immunity for past events not related to the attack on Earth. Avasarala agrees, and they all go for chow. Naomi and Holden head back to their room, and she opens up to him about everything. They exchange their pieces of the story in almost casual, conversational tones, then fall asleep together.

When Naomi wakes up, she watches the video of the ship that disappeared entering one of the Rings, the Rabia Balkhi, and wonders what happened to all the civilian ships, since Marco had only acquired MCRN ships.

Later, the Free Navy is confirmed to have control of Medina Station and affiliates are commandeering civilian ships. Admiral Duarte of the MCRN has taken control of the remaining Martian military ships in an independent initiative of the fleet, ostensibly working with the Free Navy, but planning to attack them from the rearguard later. Duarte appears to have the protomolecule sample and another much larger alien artifact. A Donnager-class ship called the Barkeith goes through the Laconia gate. The crew members become aware of all the granular detail of their immediate universe, down to individual particles and what is described as "a more profound space between them... a vacuum that penetrated them all". A solid, fog-like alien presence that is implied to be composed of something other than matter appears on the ship and kills the crew.

Viewpoint characters[]

Major Events[]


Gry Nemezis Cover

Polish cover

Hardcover editions[]

  • The book was released as a hardcover on June 2, 2015. Subterranean Press released a very limited edition hardcover in 2018.

Paperback editions[]

  • A Trade paperback edition was released on May 10, 2016.

Audiobook edition[]

  • The audiobook is read by Jefferson Mays and is 16 hours and 44 minutes in length.

Other languages[]

  • German: Nemesis-Spiele (2016)
  • Hungarian: Nemezis játékai (2016)
  • Italian: Nemesis Games - L'esodo (2016)
  • Czech: Hry Nemesis (2017)
  • Serbo-Croatian: Nemezine Igre (2017)
  • Russian: Игры Немезиды (2018)
  • French: Les Jeux de Némésis (2018)
  • Bulgarian: Игрите на Немезида (2018)
  • Polish: Gry Nemezis (2019)
  • Croatian: Nemezine Igre (2019)
  • Spanish: Los Juegos de Némesis (2020)

Author's Notes & Highlights[]

Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham have provided their notes and highlights for the book on the Goodreads website.


  • The title refers to Nemesis from Greek mythology[4], the spirit of retribution against those who succumb to hubris.[5]

See also[]


External links[]