on 18 August 2012
Perhaps despite myself, I was a huge fan of the first book in this series. No FTL travel? Humanity stuck in the home system? It all just seemed a bit, well... parochial. More 'space soap' than 'space opera'. But then I actually read it and it wasn't parochial at all - it was genius. Believable characters, interesting plot, snappy dialogue, and everything coming together to make a proper sci-fi yarn.
So I was naturally interested to read this follow-up - and it doesn't disappoint. The newer characters are all engaging, the plot is at least as interesting as in the first book, and the quality of the writing is high. It's possible that I enjoyed the first book more, but I think that's only really because the first book was such a surprise find. I read an enormous amount of sci-fi - lots of it less than stellar - but these books are well worth the attention of even the very occasional sci-fi fan.
I actually rather hate the prominence of series in sci-fi - it smacks of a lack of creativity, or of barely masked greed at the expense of creativity. But when it's done well, as it is here, it can be a real pleasure. If I hadn't already started, I might prefer to have waited to start these books until all 3 were out (because I absolutely hate waiting for sequels), but I'd heartily recommend this series to anyone and everyone who likes a good read.
on 6 June 2014
The fact that I read all three books in this trilogy in less than two months illustrates its quality. Great characters, lots of actions, an obvious fascination with spaceships (I'm tempted to get back into Eve-online after reading it), and most importantly - an excellent story.
Abaddon's Gate ties off the trilogy perfectly. I was left wanting more, which is good, but I also felt satisfied with the ending.
The writers have a knack for creating characters that seem very real and human. I found this made the book very emotional at points, probably a bonus for what is intended to be a space opera! (I don't recall feeling particularly emotional during any of the Star Wars movies, apart from being very excited!).
One character that isn't obvious at first, is gravity. By the end of Abaddon's Gate I had a much deeper insight into gravity and how it would feel to live on a planet or moon without much. It's a concept or 'character' I haven't seen used in any other sci fi universe, and it's done incredibly well.
The other thing I really like about Abaddon's Gate, and the trilogy as a whole, is it's easier to imagine that it might exist in the future. That is, I don't have to suspend my disbelief as much compared to say, Star Trek. This makes the world and characters even more believable.
Lastly...the book is just fun to read. I read an interview with the authors that said this was all they really wanted. They definitely succeeded for me. Part of what makes it fun is the action. The action sequences easily bring to mind a sci fi action film. I can imagine this would be relatively straightforward to convert into a screenplay...and hopefully one day it is (although I'm guessing the lack of gravity would make it expensive to produce :-)
on 12 August 2013
When I picked up Leviathan Wakes late in the game I knew that the general consensus of the novel was pretty good, that it was a well portrayed near-future science fiction, and that it lived up to the initial hype surrounding it. My opinion was pretty much along those lines too, and I ranked it right up there with the best novels I'd read that year. To say I was eager to read Caliban's War is somewhat of an understatement, but history does have a habit of repeating itself and here I am over a year after its release finally getting around to it. What I found within the pages of Caliban's War is both the story I wanted, and the story I didn't...
Caliban's War is set against the backdrop of the aftermath of events from Leviathan Wakes, and picks up the story a few short months later. With the protomolecule doing all sorts of strange things on Venus, tensions are high between Earth and the outer planets, with fighting breaking out on Ganymede after a horrifyingly familiar creature attacks both sides. As events continue to unfold, the bigger picture of the solar system becomes clearer, though it is far from straight forward.
While Leviathan Wakes focused on two points of view - starship pilot Holden, and detective Miller - this time it's expanded to that of four: Holden; Earth UN politician Avasarala; Ganymede botanist Prax; and Martian marine Bobbie. Holden is the only returning point of view, and his ship and crew are still very much a part of the picture. Of the new viewpoints, Avasarala is my favourite. She's a straight-talking, no-nonsense politician that, perhaps unintentionally, brings a smile to my face when she's on the page, despite the seriousness of the situation. Bobbie is interesting being the sole survivor of the opening attack. She doesn't play the political game, instead being completely frustrated at those that dance around issues rather than discussing them outright. Prax is the odd one out, if you could call him that. His daughter went missing during the events of the opening chapter, and he's desperate to find her. He hasn't got many resources at his disposal, and it's not until later on that his story starts to really build up speed as he becomes further integrated into the wider plot.
The plot to Caliban's War is good, but it doesn't have the focus I thought it would have on Venus and the protomolecule. There is plenty of action, intrigue, and entertainment to be had in Caliban's War, so it's unfair to say it's not enjoyable, but I was a little disappointed. There is no doubt that Corey is delivering some very good science fiction here, and the promise that the series holds is huge. Suffice to say, if you enjoyed Leviathan Wakes you'll find plenty here to keep you entertained. However, I'll be stepping into the third book, Abaddon's Gate, with a little more caution.
on 6 July 2012
Having picked up the first book on a whim and being absolutely blown away by its wonderful combination of human characters, touches of hard sci-fi (there's very little hand-wavium in any of the technologies throughout) and far-reaching scope, I jumped on this second instalment.
It delivers the same excellent pacing, the same humanity to the characters - their doubts, opinions, weaknesses, strengths, developments - that reminded me of the hugely enjoyable chemistry in Joss Whedon's "Firefly". It's rare that an author has the dedication to stick to newtonian physics throughout without resorting to artificial gravity, but little touches like that keep the universe consistent and grounded in a way that sci-fi can often lose to high concepts or low-brow flash. Also, unstoppable space zombies that may or may not eat planets. What a fantastic combination ^_^
I would strongly recommend this series; it's hugely enjoyable, well crafted and stands out from the Banks and Asimov that I've been reading recently as a gem of unadulterated pleasure.
Can hardly wait for the next in the series!
on 13 September 2013
Book 1 - wow, this is cool! Book 2 - excellent, wake up early to read a chapter. book 3 - come on, something happen. When this came out, i reread the first 2 books and enjoyed them even more and whilst this is a good book, it's taken a while to do much and the new characters are a little dull. Story line has become a little predictable and i found myself wanting to skip forward to the action. Great series overall but a slightly limp ending.
on 18 July 2014
I loved the first two books. And in fairness I loved this one too until about 80% in. The last scene (I won't spoil it) well it just keeps going. People have talked about padding before and I'd agree. Every little thought the characters had was explored in excruciating detail while the story stuttered around them. I found myself skipping paragraphs as I just didn't care that much. The characterization was good but I don't need them to analyse every little feeling.
I'm sure the authors must have finished the original draft and thought, "Damn - it's not long enough." I'm told the 4th is better than the 3rd, but I'm all worn out now.
If this is what their style has become then I'm afraid I'm not longer a fan.
on 24 May 2013
Written by the writing "team" under the nom-de-plume of James S. A. Corey the book takes us further into the "Expanse" universe of ancient alien bio-weapons mis-used by humanity for political gain and potentially destroying us all (sociopaths eh!).
This volume introduces the United Nations of Earth and to a lesser extent the Martian Colonies in greater detail (the first book concentrated on the Belt and outer planets polities) and develops the "first contact" and threat of alien tech further - the ending is aweing and sets the scene perfectly for the third book "Abbadon Gates" (June 2013).
The books use a "by character" per chapter viewpoint, not unlike Robert Jordan's Wheel of time - EXCEPT that it is (very) good, with tight storytelling, believable behaviour, every chapter actually having some reason for being there. Difficult book to put down and leaves you wanting more as the first novel did. Keep it up gentlemen.
To everyone else - READ IT! And enjoy,
on 14 June 2012
The first volume of series was one of the best sci fi reads I had in a while (literally couldnt put the book down) and the second part promises more of the same. It doesn't quite reach the standard of leviathan wakes (It might just be my personal preference) but i would recommend it to anyone, writing and characters are great and i can't wait for the next part already.
on 17 September 2013
I have enjoyed this sequence of books so far - there are original and interesting elements in each of the preceding books (Leviathans Wake and Caliban's War) which made me keen to see where these authors (writing together as James SA Corey) were taking this story. Unfortunately this book wound up feeling the weakest of the three to me and I will be less keen when they bring out inevitable further volumes.
There are many positive things to say though, and I don't think there is a precipitous drop in quality between this book and Caliban's War; the quality of the writing is still high, the extremely wide-screen action continues in this book and there is evidence that a universe and eon-spanning back story has been put together with care.
It is the last that underlines my main problem with this book - that the story of the creatures who sent forth the 'protomolecule' which set off the story in Leviathan's Wake is still largely mysterious by the end of this book. This would be less important (it did not bother me as much in the other two books) if the story had the emotional resonance that Corey found in the earlier books (particularly, for me, in Leviathan's Wake). In my opinion they are clearly reaching for those kind of cathartic and affecting moments but not achieving them. The resolution of the book's final moment of crisis had nothing like the emotional effect that the authors clearly intended.
I had understood that originally this book would complete a trilogy (though I knew different before I read it) and I suspect that if there had been a drive towards a (series) ending this would have been a more satisfying book. As it is I feel that the authors have better and more complete stories to tell in this fascinating universe they've created. I hope they can do so next time..
This is the second volume in the "Expanse" trilogy and it follows more or less where "Leviathan Wakes" finished. The main theme here is corporate greed and rivalry between the two major powers (Terra and Mars) as a large corporation plays them one against another and comes up with a lethal and devastating weapon. While not bad, the plot does have a little air of "déjà vu" and may remind some of Hamilton and his (mostly) "evil" corporations, although, to be fair, there is a sufficient number of twists and differences to make it somewhat original.
Some of the same characters are back, in particular James Holden, the ex-Navy officer who was the hero of the first volume, and the crew of the Rocinante. These, however, were not the ones I found the most interesting. In fact I got a bit tired of James Holden personal relationship, and of the character himself. I was much more interested in two of the new characters - the Martian marine sergeant who sees her platoon slaughtered and seeks to understand what happened and avenge them and the high flying politician from Terra. Both characters I found to be well drawn and convincing, partly because both are both strong in their rather different ways but also vulnerable.
As alluded to before, a number of features are used rather successfully in this book to grip the reader and drag her/him into the history. One of these is the previously mentioned slaughter of the Martian marine platoon. One this is achieved, it is rather difficult to put this one down. Even if slightly less good than the previous one, perhaps in part because it is volume two, this one is still just about worth four stars for me. Definitely recommended, but you probably need to read volume one first.