This was really modern science fiction, if not quite up there with the best-of-the-best, it was close. Unusually for hard science fiction, the charac..Show More »ters were compelling on their own, and had some nice depth to them. Also somewhat unusually, the characters were not scientists or space marines, but rather a mediocre detective and an intra-stellar freight hauler who get pulled deeper and deeper into the solar-system spanning plot of the book.
Though it is revealed in the very start of the story (so, no spoiler here!) that there is a first contact element in the book, for the vast majority of the novel, the action is much more human in nature - politics (both interplanetary and interoffice) and lots of action predominate.
The novel is not the deepest, and I am not entirely sure it adds to the genre or sheds vital insight into the human condition, but there is a lot of fun: murder mysteries, ship-to-ship combat, witty banter, and even old-school horror all make appearances. I'll certainly listen to the next, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it while you wait for more Peter Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, or Iain M. Banks novels to be added to Audible.
No sophmore slump as both plot and writing improve
Leviathan Wakes was a really solid example of modern hard SF space opera - Caliban's War is better. Corey (actually two authors, but they generally do..Show More » a good job of writing as a team) pays attention to the nice hard SF details (ship acceleration, radiation exposure, transit times between Jovian moons, etc.), but the love is clearly for the opera part of space opera. The main set of characters are a winning team that excel at narrow escapes and being at the right place at the right time, while engaging in both banter and emotional asides. And, even though the book takes time to develop the emotional states of the characters, plot elements zip along, tension is ratcheted ever upward as chapters quickly switch from viewpoint to viewpoint (and maybe author to author).
The new main characters are less blue collar than the first book, but also more well-written and unexpected - this is the first SF novel I have read with a foulmouthed 72 year old Indian grandmother, let alone one where that foulmouthed grandmother is genuinely intimidating. Similarly, the writing has improved, with less awkward passages and some genuinely moving descriptions. Reading is very solid, with accents being handled without too much exaggeration.
If you liked the first novel, this is a no-brainer. If you like Peter Hamilton-style space opera, this is also a clear winner. There is a lot of questions still to answer in the final book, but I am clearly along for the ride.
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 th..Show More »e 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.