For generations, the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt - was humanity's great frontier. Until now.
The alien artifact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has appeared in Uranus's orbit, where it has built a massive gate that leads to a starless dark. Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artifact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.
©2013 Jams S.A. Corey (P)2013 Recorded Books
For a book series with a rumored TV adaptation, the 3rd book arrived on Audible with little fanfare. I awaited and searched for release dates for months only to randomly discover it on Audible last week, lacking proper cover art or any features on the website. (For any audible employees reading, a favorite authors system would be great). That said its finally here and it's wonderful to have.
There isn't much reason to justify The Expanse if you've already read the first two books (and if you're like me, you've read the short stories. It's a rich and strangely believable universe of humans and space, where the fab team that make up James S.A. Corey never loose sight of the humans of the story. Having made my attempts at other popular sci-fi series, The Expanse feels rich, detailed and populous, without the extremes hardware worship or the obsessively dry space battles. Its easily my favorite series (besting my previous favorite of Peter F Hamilton's neurotically complex commonwealth series)
This go around rotates the cast, Bobbie and the wonderfully foul-mouthed Chrisjen are absent with new characters, Anna, an immigrant priest with strongly defined moral compass as much as James Holden, and Bull, a tough-as-nails chief security officer on the Behemoth, as replacements. True to form, each adds to the colorful and blossoming cast of The Expanse, although neither quite trump the cast they're filling in for.
Without spoiling much, the ride is exciting although doesn't quite hit the sensational horror of the first novel or the intensity of the second. This isn't to say its lost itself but the arch pertaining to the proto-molecule is largely explained, and while clever, isn't as surprising as some of the other twists in the previous books, especially in the wonderfully unpredictable fashion of the first two. I will give credit where credit is due, as the mystery isn't compounded into irrelevance not is it drawn out to insignificance. Pulling off the big reveal is always difficult and the Expanse does it well. Any additions to the series will now face a new arch.
The book's end stops a few chapters too early but the best entertainment always leaves you wanting more.
I look forward to seeing what the next books will be like.
Jefferson Mays does a terrific job of navigating this complex story and bringing all the characters into reality. Corey's book had a slightly different dynamic than the first two books, involving more psychology and philosophical perspectives. It was exhausting -- especially the last section. Great listen in all respects.
There are very few pleasures, in this life, that match the bliss of listening to a well written story read by a skilled orator. "Language is a virus from outer space." William Burroughs
Qualifier: This review is for the whole series (3 books), to date. I believe the series will continue to 6 books.
Many many authors and story tellers whether it be for TV, movies or novels are very good at writing beginnings and middles to stories. Very few know or are able to write satisfying endings. I think one of the best examples of this is Stephen King. Now I love King, as a great American pulp writer, with The Dark Tower series being one of my all time favorite fantasy series. I have read all of them and listened to all of them a handful of times. So just because you can't write an ending doesn't mean you shouldn't read the story. Now, with The Expanse series it is the exact opposite.
As has been previously mentioned in other reviews this series has been written by two different authors under the moniker of James S.A. Corey. Each book is broken up into chapters that feature the perspective of a particular character. The first book is from just two, Holden and Miller. The other two books feature more diversity by using at least 4 points of view from very different personalities. Most likely each author is responsible for a different character. This works very well to give the reader a wide range of view points on the story, also, as may be the case, ethical counter arguments. Not to say it is a deep thought provoking series, it is not, but it is also far from shallow. What it is, is great entertainment.
The first two books, Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, are entertaining page turning stories that feature solid plot structure and interesting, real characters. Holden, the main character, pissed me off more than not with his head in the clouds, altruistic, utopian ideology, but the character was true to form. Miler balanced it out with his pessimism. Each book featured a missing girl plot line with an overarching metaphysical mystery in the form of the alien Protomolecule. The first contact story of the Protomolecule is the driving force behind the whole series and dictates the machinations of the characters and there moral and ethical decisions. Abaddon's Gate continues the Protomolecule mystery and also features a revenge story. The use of a secondary story line, missing girls or revenge story, gives the books a dynamic quality to the plot structure which cranks up the adrenaline popcorn munching page turning entertainment.
I really enjoyed all three books with Abaddon's Gate being the highlight of the series so far. The narration is spot on and never gets in the way of the story. If you are looking for something to take you away from the daily grind and transport you into entertaining sci-fi universe, I can't recommend these books enough. Also, the series just got green lit to become a TV series. So get the jump on everybody.
This is a rollicking space opera that delivers on every level. There's action, mystery, and just the right touch of awe. Jim Holden is a classic space hero. Reverend Anna is a true moral compass. Clarissa Mao/Melba Ko is a relentless villain with the hope of redemption. The rest of the cast of characters fall neatly into the good, the bad and the ugly, to borrow from another medium. The narration is solid, believable and not at all distracting. All-in-all, a terrific read and satisfying across all 5 stars.
I've been, and will likely continue to be, a great fan of James S.A. Corey's Expanse novels. Abaddon's Gate is no longer to be the final chapter of the series as originally planned (there will be at least six full novels altogether, along with various novellas and short stories), but it does serve to wrap up a number of major plot lines introduced in Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War.
Unfortunately, though I enjoyed it a great deal, I have to say it is probably the weakest entry thus far. As a science fiction story, it ventures further into outlandish territory than its predecessors did. This isn't necessarily a complaint, but the first two books really excelled at creating a believable, gritty atmosphere. Abaddon has a stronger focus on philosophy and ethics, which while often thoughtful and fascinating, doesn't propel the action as forcefully.
Like Caliban, the story switches between four primary characters, only one of whom--Holden--has been featured before. The authors made the interesting choice of making one of the new POV characters more of an antagonist, at least initially. This factor lends the book most of its edge, in my opinion. I would have liked to see a little more humor, which is one thing the second book in the series excelled at.
Though Abaddon is satisfying enough as the end chapter of a self-contained trilogy, it leaves the door wide open (no pun intended) for some very interesting future adventures. Fans of the previous Expanse entries should not hesitate to pick this one up, even if it doesn't quite match the sense of place and atmosphere of Leviathan or the brisk pace and humor of Caliban.
In the first two books of The Expanse series James S A Corey shows us how human civilization has spread throughout the solar system and we also see how our self-destructive nature manifests itself on a planetary scale. In the middle of the bickering between Earth, Mars and the OPA an ancient alien threat is awakened but that is not enough to bind us together. Instead we try to turn it into a weapon to use on other humans and only the actions of a few are able to prevent our total annihilation.
In Abaddon's Gate we see that the Protomolecule has now left Venus and built a giant gate near Uranus that leads to a starless void on the other side. Of course the various factions of mankind race toward the gate to make sure that their rivals do not gain an advantage and this sets up a powder keg of a scenario. Holden and the crew of the Rocinante find themselves in the thick of it as usual and the stakes are higher than ever.
Much like in Caliban’s War many new Point of View characters are introduced to go along with Jim Holden. I must admit I grew to really like Bobbie and Avasarala from book two but they are not to be found in here in book three. Fear not though because the new characters are equally interesting and Abaddon's Gate is a great listen. It has a little less humor than the prior books but the story moves along at a rapid pace. You never know if humanity is going to find a way to move beyond the solar system or just kill itself off in the attempt.
Jefferson Mays is excellent as usual and the series can really go in any direction from here. Abaddon’s Gate progresses the story nicely and I can’t wait to find out what book four has to offer.
Abaddon's Gate is the final installment in Corey's Expanse trilogy. The first two volumes dealt with the discovery and various attempts at exploitation of the protomolecule, an alien artifact with the capability to alter human genetics and biology. Corey continues the style of book 2 by bringing in a new cast of characters while continuing with Holden. Miller also returns. Basically, the protomolecule finishes its work on Venus and completes assembly of some sort of transdimensional gate. Naturally, Holden goes through followed by a large contingent of Earth, Martian, and OPA military vessels. Resolution and escape provides a satisfying explanation of the nature and purpose of the protomolecule as well as creating opportunities for further storylines in this expanding universe.
The sci-fi elements of the earlier installments largely continue, but several interesting tweaks to the laws of physics makes for intriguing listening. Corey also throws in a bit of religion and psychiatry as well.
The narration is superb with an excellent rendition as well as range for the various characters. The only ding is Corey's writing style throughout: characters only "say" things ("he said" and "she said"). they never remark, comment, groan, snigger, etc. The constant back and forth of Holden said and Miller said begins to grate at times.
Abaddon's Gate is a worthy addition to the Expanse series and I am pleased to find out there will be another book. The two authors, whose collaboration seems to be seamless, have continued the saga of James Holden and his crew against the backdrop of a deadly conspiracy and a great galactic mystery. The story is exciting and well-plotted. I particularly like the ability of the authors to get beyond mere space opera and conflict to explore the human condition. There is far more character development here than in most Sci-Fi novels and the characters, with all their flaws, move the plot along, often with major missteps, because they are far from perfect. They misinterpret situations, are purposely mislead by others, and through their flaws, don't always do the right thing. This makes for a much more believable than usual story, even though the Sci-Fi concepts are way out there. Moreover, the political wrangling among the various factions rings true in our contentious political era in the United States. This is the best series I have read or listened to in years. My only complaint is that, at times, things seem to move a little slowly, and perhaps the novel could have been a little shorter.
I loved the first book in the series and thought that the second one was... not quite as good. The third is a return to form, concentrating more on the alien technology and less on political squabbles.
The characterizations are a little better this time around too, and though we don't get anyone as deep or interesting as Miller from the first book the, the supporting cast is pretty good this time around.
Although the story winds up in a semi-coherent fashion, I'm hoping that the authors decide to revisit the "expanse" universe soon.
Abaddon’s Gate is a fantastic addition to the Expanse series. The writer (or writers, as it’s actually a two-man team) have really upped their game in terms of their ability to spin a coherent, suspenseful, believable story. The characters are compelling and likable and the action is intense. It keeps you guessing and on the edge of your seat right up to the finale. There are more “moving parts” in this book than in previous entries in the series, e.g. more characters, more complex situations, more at stake. That the writers can so adroitly tie it all together and create compelling drama amid the action is a testament to their growth in the craft. Also, their world-building is on display once again as the solar system-wide assortment of humankind’s factions all come together. We see some perspectives we haven’t heard from before, including an OPA officer, an Earther priest, and a survivor of the Mao-Kwikowski family. Each of these new characters is fresh and believable, and I came to love them over the course of the adventure, despite the questionable things some of them do. This series, and this book in particular, has a lot to say about gray areas, about what’s right and wrong, and about what motivates people to do good, or bad, things. It’s a story of redemption and, above all, the power of forgiveness and finding the better angels of our natures. This series, despite some grim undertones, is a remarkably optimistic piece of sci fi, which by itself makes the series stand out. That it is tightly paced, with crackling dialog and a cliffhanger at every chapter’s end, with believable, human characters, and white-knuckle action, should be all the more reason for you to give it a listen.
The audio production was good. The same narrator from the previous volumes, Jefferson Mays, reads this edition as well. I said in my review of Caliban’s War that his performance was solid if unremarkable. Perhaps it was simply the gravitas and tension in the story of Abaddon’s Gate, but I felt Mr. Mays brought a better game this time. In particular, I love his characterization of “Bull” Baca. He gives him a world-weariness that just matches the character perfectly. Yet all his characterizations are strong this time out, and he seems to be enjoying the book as much as we, the readers, are. He’s no Frank Muller, but he’s definitely grown on me.
Please give this series a try if you’re debating it. I took a chance on it, in spite of some negative reviews. Trust me, it’s well worth the credits, and the time. You will be hard pressed to find a more accessible, balanced, engaging science fiction series out there anywhere, and this type of literature needs to be supported and applauded by the fan community. FYI, the series does not end with this volume; this is merely its most recent volume. The next title, Cibola Burn, is due out in 2014. Once you read Abaddon’s Gate, you’ll doubtless be joining me in counting the days till then.
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