James "Jim" R. Holden is a former soldier of the UN Navy, former Second Officer and acting Executive Officer onboard the ice hauler the Canterbury, and is currently the Captain of the Rocinante. He is also in a relationship with the Executive Officer of the Roci, Naomi Nagata.
He is an Earther in his early thirties, and has pale skin, blue eyes and dark short-cropped hair. While under the disguise of Walter Philips of the Weeping Somnambulist Holden grew a beard which came in patches of various length and curl.
Holden was born and raised in Montana on Earth, as the only child in a family co-op of five fathers – among them Tom and Caesar – and three mothers – among them Tamara and Elise, the latter being the one who gave birth to him and stayed home when he was young. They all contributed to his DNA mix and as such were his biological parents. The tax break for eight adults only having one child allowed them to own twenty-two acres of decent farmland.
He joined the UNN at the age of eighteen and served for seven years, his last posting being as a First Lieutenant on the destroyer Zhang Fei. He was discharged from the navy for assaulting a superior officer.
Holden was the (acting, he systematically refused to step up) Executive Officer of the Canterbury, where he had worked for the Pur'n'Kleen Water Company for five years, flying the Ceres-to-Saturn circuit shuttling ice nine times. While serving on the Canterbury he had a secret sexual relationship with Ade Tukunbo, which she was reluctant to escalate into a romantic relationship, despite his insistence.
When the Cant receives a distress signal from the Scopuli on the asteroid CA-2216862, Holden is in command of the shuttle the Knight consisting of Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton, Alex Kamal, and Shed Garvey sent to investigate. Amos joins Holden in the search of the Scopuli where they find a transmitter in ops. Immediately after the discovery of the transmitter a ship, believed to be pirates, appears and fires six torpedoes at the Cant. The crew of the Knight rushes back to the Cant to help save it, but both crews realize there is no hope. Captain McDowell then orders Holden to fall back to the asteroid and continue broadcasting an SOS in an effort to keep the enemy crew from killing everyone on board of the Cant. Holden maintains a channel open with Ade as she counts down the time until impact of the the torpedoes and the Canterbury is destroyed. He then sends a message to the enemy ship and attaches the personnel files of the crew of the Cant.
After the Cant's destruction, he becomes the Captain of the Knight and orders the crew to follow the stealth ship until Naomi disagrees and states the best course of action is to call for help and ensure the safety of his crew to which Holden thanks her for her help. He then prepares a data package including all the sensor data from the Canterbury and Knight and after Alex Kamal tells him about similar stealth ships that were part of the Martian Navy when he was and Holden discovers Martian serial numbers and the logo of the MCRN of the transmitter from the Scopuli, Holden transmits it and blames Mars for the attack.
Holden then contacts the Pur'n'Kleen Water Company Saturn Station for orders on what to do next. After three hours he is contacted by Wallace Fitz, the legal council on the station. He orders the Knight to fly towards the Jupiter system where he will be picked up by the MCRN Donnager who will assist them in their investigation. In an effort to keep his crew from being harmed by Mars, Holden broadcasts another message stating that they are cooperating with Mar's investigation and being picked up by the Donnager. Alex then notices that they are being followed by six Belt objects. Four days into their trip to meet with the Donnie Fred Johnson of the OPA sends Holden a message. He assures Holden that Holden has allies in the belt and while Holden is in the custody of the MCRN to use the word ubiquitous in his first sentence to let Fred know he is not being coerced.
Once the Knight docks on the Donnager and the crew is taken to their quarters, Holden is escorted to Lieutenant Lopez to be debriefed. During the debriefing the Donnie is attacked by the six ships that followed the Knight. Holden is escorted back to his crew's quarters. During the firefight their room is punctured and Shed Garvey is killed. While the Donnie is being attacked and boarded Holden and his crew are escorted to the hangar bay by Lieutenant Kelly and three marines. After a gunfight in the hanger bay the crew escapes on the corvette class, light frigate, the Tachi.
Drifting in space with their list of enemies growing and unsure what to do next Holden contacts Fred Johnson who gives him coordinates and a new transponder code for the Tachi, now legally claimed as salvage. In route to Tycho Station Holden begins to explore the Roci, his new ship. Upon arrival Holden orders the crew to wear their environment suits and carry handguns, making it standard operation when arriving anywhere new. After leaving the airlock Holden and his crew meet The Butcher of Anderson Station, Fred Johnson.
Fred escorts them to their rooms and explains his situation. An all out war between the Belt and Mars would bring about a horrible amount of deaths. However, there is one way to save all the blood shed; view the destruction of the Canterbury and Donnager as a criminal act instead of an act of war allowing for a trial incriminating a group on which both the OPA and the Martian Congressional Republic can agree. In the event of a trial Holden and his crew would be the star witnesses having experienced both ship's destruction first hand and give Fred and the OPA credibility in the process. Fred leaves giving them freedom of Tycho and puts all their expenses on his tab. Later Holden and Naomi have drinks at a karaoke bar. After leaving and attempting to sleep at his new room Holden heads back to his home, the Rocinante.
After three days on Tycho Holden begins to get restless without a job. He proposes to his crew that they become independent couriers. The Roci is a stealth ship and people will need things moved quietly during the war. Later Fred calls Holden to his office. He asks Holden if he can borrow Holden's ship. Holden refuses but offers to go instead if he knows the details. After Fred thinks about it he explains the job; Lionel Polanski, a fake alias created by Mr. Tycho to own things he doesn't want known publicly such as the Scopuli, has checked into a hotel on Eros. Due to it being a fake person Fred knows it's someone who knows the OPA intimately and is in trouble. Holden negotiates an exchange of the Martian data cube from Donnager for his ship and crew to be signed on as independent contractors for the OPA. Fred does put one condition on Holden being signed on; he has the right to outbid any one else who tries to hire the Roci.
The Rocinante lands on Eros and the crew makes their way to the flophouse where "Lionel Polanski" is registered. Amos notices someone following them who appears to be a cop. Upon their arrival they get into a gunfight and are helped by Miller who had been following the crew. With the help of Miller's old friend Sematimba the crew avoids going to jail. Together they find the mutated body of Julie Mao, who had written down the location of the asteroid where the ship that attacked the Scopuli was hiding. While the crew discusses their next move with Miller, they receive a message from Fred saying that a mole was found on Tycho leaking their location. Meanwhile, a nuclear explosion on Eros put the station in lockdown. The new security force who had taken over Eros from Protogen not long before, Carne Por la Machina, starts ushering the population to radiation shelters. Miller recognizes one of the security officers as a former criminal on Ceres, and deduces that the officers are carrying the riot gear that had been stolen from Star Helix.
Miller and Holden decide to investigate the situation while the rest of the crew hides. Forcing a CPM security officer to open one of the already full radiation shelters, they discover that all the refugees have been gassed unconscious, and that there is heavy radiation inside, but not before they both get poisoned by a heavy dose of radiation themselves. With only hours to live, they manage to shoot their way through the security forces and the infected people from the radiation shelters who are turning into "vomit zombies", and escape to the Rocinante. With radiation sickness, broken ribs, and a shot calf, Holden barely survives, having to lay in the sick bay with Miller for several days while the Rocinante travels to the location of the asteroid Julie had written down.
With Holden and Miller still in the sickbay Holden expresses his feelings for Naomi. Naomi instead explains that she has been in love with him since seven weeks into their first run together on the Cant. Naomi recalls how Holden had treated another shipmate with respect when he found out that the woman had feelings for him and but he did not feel the same. Holden is revealed to be somewhat of a womanizer aboard the Cant and Naomi claims he never noticed her until she was the only woman around. Naomi refuses to sleep with Holden unless they are in a serious relationship. En route, the crew discovers that the data they brought from the Donnager implicates Earth ships in its destruction. Holden immediately broadcasts the data to the public, like he had done with the information about the Canterbury's destruction. This leads to a disagreement between Holden and Miller, the former believing that information should be free so the public can draw its own conclusions, while the latter believes that the public is bound to reach incorrect conclusions and that detective work is needed in order to not broadcast potentially false and disastrous accusations.
Arriving at asteroid BA834024112, the crew of the Roci find the Anubis, the Protogen ship that had boarded the Scopuli. Aboard the ship they find the bodies of the crew in a late stage of protomolecule-infection and a video of Antony Dresden explaining Protogen's plans, and communication logs. Holden then orders Naomi to remove the safe from the captain's quarters and for Amos to scuttle the ship. Upon returning to the Roci Miller attributes United Nations Navy ships destroying Martian Congressional Republic Navy ships to Holden's releasing of the information of the origin of the stealth ships. During their trip back to Tycho, during dinner, Naomi theorizes that the protomolecule wasn't "smart" enough and needed more biomass.
Arriving at Tycho Holden and Miller meet with Fred. Fred goes over their after-action report and they decide that the only way to stop Protogen is to find their research lab and to kill everyone there. Miller later calls another meeting with Holden, Fred, and Naomi. Miller hands over to Fred the coordinates of Thoth Station he received from his former partner.
During the battle at Thoth, the Rocinante takes out the station's comm array and the two defensive frigates guarding it. Once Fred and the crew of the Rocinate arrive at ops where Miller and the rest of the OPA have captured Dresden, Dresden begins to explain the Protomolecule and Protogen's involvement. Miller eventually hears enough of Dresden and shoots him in the head much to everyone's surprise. Holden begins yelling at Miller, telling him to find his own way home.
Back on Tycho Holden meets with Sam Rosenberg, the Roci repair team leader and tells her how much he appreciates her work. Later Miller arrives at Holden's cabin. He explains to Holden why he shot Dresden; he thought Dresden would get away with it. Dresden was beginning to convince Miller and couldn't be allowed to get out since he and Protogen are too powerful. Holden tells Miller that he can't trust Miller to be around the people he cares about and Miller leaves. Holden then calls Naomi and she invites him to have drinks with her at the bar. Once there Naomi asks Holden if he'd like to come home with her, which he accepts.
The next morning Fred calls Holden and Naomi to his office where Miller briefs them on the plan to destroy Eros. The Roci will defend Eros while engineers will attach five freighters to explode on the surface to deter anyone from landing. The Nauvoo will make its way to crash Eros into the sun. With Holden and the Roci going back into combat Fred demands that he turn over the protomolecule sample he has. Holden refuses and when Fred presses the issue Holden calls Amos and tells him if he doesn't contact him in an hour to take the Roci and leave shooting his way out if he has to. Under Miller's advisement Fred relents.
On their way to Eros Holden and Naomi break the news of their relationship to Alex and Amos who are quite amused and happy. While guarding Eros Holden is able to force the Charles Lyell and its escort Ravi to stop moving towards the station. Naomi and Holden discuss Miller shooting Dresden. Naomi compares the Belt to one big ship and Miller did what he did to save the Belt. Not long after they pick up a large amount of UNN ships heading toward Eros.
Once Eros dodges the Nauvoo the crew of the Roci begin to panic. Holden opens up a channel to the Ravi asking if they would like to follow Eros as it has now somehow become invisible to radar. Holden then opens a channel with Fred. They concluded that Eros is heading towards Earth and decide to detonate the bombs on the station in hopes of slowing down the ship. Holden then contacts Miller who it turns out is still on Eros. After working on ways to get Miller off Eros, Miller contacts Holden for what they think will be last time with the two reconciling. With the Roci traveling at high g Fred contacts Holden with a plan to paint Eros with a targeting laser while Earth fires nuclear missiles at it. Holden points out that there is no way for the Roci to maintain contact with the station without killing his crew in the process. Fred responds that Holden should put the ship on autopilot if he needs to. Holden replies that he'll think about it. After discussing it with Naomi they realize that they can use the radio waves from the OPA ships on Eros to target the Earth nukes without endangering their crew which receives approval from both Fred and the UN Naval Command. Shortly after, Holden receives a call from Miller telling him there's a problem. He tells Holden to call off the UN missiles and that he can negotiate with Julie and convince her to not attack Earth. Holden refuses but agrees to attempt to stall them long enough for Miller to find her. Holden then calls Fred and tells him of his plan. When Fred refuses Holden tells him that if he agrees he'll give him his sample and notes of the protomolecule.
While waiting on Miller to contact Julie the Ravi begins threatening the Roci. However before any damage can be done Eros stops jamming radar sensors and heads toward Venus.
On the Rocinante's way back to Tycho the crew watches Eros's descent on Venus wondering what will happen next. Three weeks later Holden attends the peace conference of Ceres with Fred, asking him to remember Miller.
In the eighteen months since the Eros incident Holden and the crew of the Rocinante, Executive Officer Naomi Nagata, Chief Engineer Amos Burton, and Pilot Alex Kamal, have been working as pirate hunters for the OPA. After successfully convincing a pirate ship to turn themselves over, Holden is contacted by Fred Johnson about the Ganymede incident.
Holden, Naomi, and Amos are sent under the guise of the crew of the Weeping Somnambulist to investigate while Alex kept the Roci hidden in case they needed to escape or where captured. Upon their arrival, much to their surprise due to the ship being a regular, they were boarded and inspected by UN Navy, but were able to hold their cover. To make matters worse, once the ship landed they were greeted by the customs official who attempted to con part of their supplies to sell on the black market. Holden and Amos were able to scare him and his guards off leaving him unsuccessful. Once the shakedown is over Holden meets with Santichiai Supitayaporn and his wife Melissa missionaries with the Church of Humanity Ascendant who ran the relief depot. Santichai chastises him for the way he handled the customs official, telling him things of the relief depot are hard enough. Then he goes on to tell Holden that he is short ten thousand kilos of protein. He escapes to speak with his wife Melissa is who is much more pleasant. When Holden asks if she knows why the shooting started she said she didn't know and assumed it was also happening all over the system.
Holden and Naomi begin to explore the station when the begin to hear a large group of people shouting. When they investigate they discover its a food riot; Ganymede is one of the largest food exports in the system and continues to export food while most of the people on the station are starving. After he examines the situation he goes up to the port supervisory and tells him that he is Walter Philips, OPA rep out of Tycho Station. When he fails to resolve the situation Naomi steps in. She calls Amos and tells him that if the freighter carrying food leaves to take everything and scuttle it. She then tells the port supervisor to either give the crowd the food or the OPA will just take the whole ship. Afterwards Naomi accuses Holden of acting like Detective Miller but before their argument could escalate they are approached by Praxidike Meng asking for their help.
The three make their way back to the ship where Prax tells them his story. While Amos does recon and gathers supplies, Holden forces Prax to eat a meal and take a shower. Amos returns with a can of "chicken food products" which Holden hopes the hacker that Prax hired will take as a token of payment. Then, Holden, Amos, and Prax make their way to the hacker while Naomi monitor them from the ship. They arrive at the hackers home for the exchange but the hacker believes they have more chicken and raises the price. Instead, Amos begins to beat the hacker eventually being called off by Holden when the hacker agrees to help them. The hacker shows them the footage of Mei Meng being taken by her doctor, Strickland and another woman who Prax doesn't recognize but the school's security registered as Mei's mother. The footage follows them up to an old utility storage are before the station was finished that the security feeds do not follow. With their information they pay the hacker and head back to the ship and with Naomi discuss a plan: Naomi will monitor them and take care of any electronic threats, Prax will be there for Mei to recognize and to give any details on her illness that affects the rescue, leaving Holden and Amos to the violence.
As the three of them head through to tunnels to find Mei, they are ambushed by a group of former Pinkwater Security led by a man named Wendell. Holden is able to talk them down and convince them to assist them in their rescue of Mei in exchange for getting them off of Ganymede. The group arrives at the doorway where they lost track of Mei and begin clearing the tunnels. During their search they come across the dead body of Katoa Merton. Filled with anger, Prax opens the next door to find a group of security guards taking a break. Prax, hysterical, inadvertently starts a gunfight. The group presses on and finds more security guards and a secret science lab with the black tendrils of the Protomolecule. Holden then calls Naomi telling her they have to leave immediately. On their way back to the ship Holden comes to the conclusion that because he gave Fred the only remaining Protomolecule sample that he must be behind this. He then orders Namomi that if they do not make it back to the ship in thirty minutes to leave with Alex but to not return to Tychoo. Just before making it back to the port they are ambushed and subdued by a group of Earthers in gray armor with no insignias.