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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Return to Old-School Space Opera
It is entirely justifiable to call Leviathan Wakes one of the most hotly anticipated titles of the year. Touted by George R.R. Martin as a `kickass space opera` James S.A. Corey's debut is a return to the old-school form of space opera, but souped up to satisfy modern tastes. Delivering on Martin's promise of a kickass story, Corey makes every effort to mix together a...
Published on 1 Jun 2011 by Louis "LEC Book Reviews"

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit of mindless fun
Enjoyable read nothing that needs much brain power, but did not really leave me wanting more of rushing to buy the sequel.
Published 14 months ago by SlosshyDolphin


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50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Return to Old-School Space Opera, 1 Jun 2011
It is entirely justifiable to call Leviathan Wakes one of the most hotly anticipated titles of the year. Touted by George R.R. Martin as a `kickass space opera` James S.A. Corey's debut is a return to the old-school form of space opera, but souped up to satisfy modern tastes. Delivering on Martin's promise of a kickass story, Corey makes every effort to mix together a crime plot with that of a tense struggle and an armed interplanetary conflict.This sprawling start to the aptly named `The Expanse' is a triumph of science fiction entertainment and fine writing.

Corey sets out both a creative view of humanity's future and a starkly realistic one. In his vision, humanity - at sub-light speeds - has extended its reach to the far ends of our solar system, establishing itself on Mars, the moons of the outer gas giants and on many of the larger components of the Asteroid Belt. Though not at all a hard SF novel, Leviathan Wakes does try to get some of its facts right, and its depiction of interplanetary travel and life outside of the homey confines of Earth reflect that, even if they are, in the end, purely fictional imaginings.

Brilliantly, Corey makes use of certain of these scientific `restrictions' as catalysts for conflict. So the `belters,' humans that were born and have lived in the Asteroid Belt have developed differently physically from their Terran and Martian cousins because of the low-gravity environment in which they subsist. These differences, much like our issues of race today, are sources of friction between the different factions of the solar system and eventually lead to greater conflict in the novel.

With this setting as a backdrop, Corey forges a twisted mystery that seems to weave in and out of the main characters' lives and connect every event. Leviathan Wakes, in its early stages, bears resemblance to pulpy, noir crime fiction, but does not let itself be bogged down in that atmosphere. Indeed, the immediate setting is always changing due to the breakneck pace at which the story unfolds, transitioning from one intriguing setting to the next, giving us the welcome opportunity to visit a good deal of the future of our solar system under Corey's care.

But at the heart of Leviathan Wakes are its characters. The telling of the story alternates between the view points of its two main characters, Miller and Holden. The former offers the perspective of the tired, post-prime detective who retains enough experience and street-smarts to still be of value, while the later represents the hopeful idealists, the do-gooders, those whose actions are dictated by higher morals whether they want to or not, and who is trapped in circumstances with no options that satisfy his moral restrictions. The contrast between these two characters is evident and, I assume, very much intentional as the tensions and moral differences play a big part in the book's conflicts.

Supporting these two colorful characters is an interesting bunch of secondary characters. Most notable are the members of Holden's crew aboard the Rocinante, who bring a brilliant dynamic to the novel as well as some well-placed comic relief and, at times, serve as emotional anchors for their Captain. The chemistry between all of the novel's characters - be that because of their tendency to be archetypical or not - is fabulous and a pure joy to read.

Leviathan Wakes is an exorbitant collection of all the elements that make old-school space operas so great. The Daniel Abraham - Ty Franck duo hiding behind the James S. A. Corey monicker succeed in bringing to life boisterous characters in a thriving vision of our future. The worst that can be said about the book is that the constant movement and the speed at which events unfold, though mostly outrageously fun, can sometimes be tiring and leads to some of the plot resolutions feeling a bit rushed and too convenient. That's it. Apart from that, Leviathan Wakes is a surefire way of getting your quality science fiction fill. Needless to say, this first book in `The Expanse' is highly recommended. The second novel, Caliban's War, appears to already be nearly completed so should be expected for next year.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Non-stop space opera, 13 Sep 2012
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Death, destruction, politics, space ships, villans, getaways and, yes, zombies. This space opera is one fast paced mash-up of every other sci-fi situation you can think of and its all done really, really well. Taken from two characters viewpoints throughout, these slowly come together as the plot moves around the massive settlements of the asteroid belt, where humnaity makes its home.

Laviathan Wakes starts out as Alien/Event Horizon, when a missing ship sends out a distress call that is not what it seems. This is then mixed with the politics of Red Mars and quickly spun into the battles of Pandoras Box. Having escaped the mayhem, our heroes move on to a dose of Resident Evil and then..... well I won't go on more as I might spoil the story. Sufficient to say this is a great, slightly retro, page turner and really enjoyable
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gritty and human take on sci-fi, 31 Aug 2012
By 
griff1974 (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
Leviathan Wakes has a sci-fi scenario with many of the bells and whistles associated with the genre, but at heart it's simply a story of the human condition that happens to be set in the future. It deals with issues of ethnic division (through differences in physical development due to the presence or otherwise of gravity), the familiar prejudices created between the haves and have-nots, the power of Governments and corporations in the control of knowledge, and the associated sci-fi staple of the responsible use of alien technology. All of these are reflections of our current global problems and help to create a universe that the reader can relate to fairly quickly.

This leaves a lot of room for the characters and narrative, which is what keeps this book moving along nicely and engages you in the storytelling. There are main characters rather than heroes, all of whom have the requisite number of foibles and failings to keep you interested, unsure where they're going, and wanting to know more.

While trying to avoid spoilers the main thrust of the story is: naughty corporation stirs enmity between opposing forces to hide their dabbling in alien technology that gets away from them, and it then falls to the two main characters to overcome their failings to try and stop the end of human life.

The gripping part of the writing is the clever use of doubt. There is never a clear and unequivocal decision, from the minor to the massive. It doesn't even try to hide behind doing what is 'right'. It makes the characters unpredictable and perhaps more difficult to warm to, but ultimately reflects the reality of people in a situation where life and death cannot be measured by doing the right thing.

This is gritty rather than grand, scuffed instead of shiny. The pacing, characterisation, and narrative carry it well and cover a slight lack of depth in the story. It just made four stars for me, which means I'll definitely be reading the next book in the series but it doesn't have to be right this instant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars that sounds a great read. I bought this as an ebook ages ..., 23 July 2014
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
A story told from two perspectives of an incident that could see the end of the human race. Yeah, that sounds a great read.

I bought this as an ebook ages ago when it was on a offer at Amazon.co.uk for 99p. It took a while to reach, not because i had a massive backlog, but because i was listening to lots of audiobooks. The book club i am in had read the latest volumes of the series and got great reviews - and these are people whose opinions i respect. So there was no stopping me from reading it.

And was i glad i did. Not just because the story is interesting and kept me on edge, but because the characters were fleshed out. The story is from 2 perspectives - Miller, a detective and Holden, a freighters XO. Both characters have their flaws, some serious some not so. They remind me of real people i know (all be it, not in space). I made a quick connection to not only them, but also the support characters. The support characters fleshed out the whole book, giving it a lived in appeal. I really enjoyed the ship scenes. I know this has been said many time before, it did give an impression of Firefly - not a bad thing in my opinion.

The writing was excellent. There was little in the way of annoying filler. The filler chapters gave a sense of family, how the characters were reacting to something. The action scenes were brief, but detailed. It came across to me as a lean story.

I am eager to get the rest of the series when time and money permits, as well as all the short stories. This is a series i will keep an eye on (especially as there will be a TV series produced as well).

I can not recommend this book enough.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Engrossing Space Epic, 2 Aug 2012
By 
Leo Elijah Cristea (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Leviathan Wakes is the first science fiction novel I have ever read. Well, that's probably not strictly true, since exposure to early sci-fi at school and university make that claim untrue, but the sentiment is there: Leviathan Wakes is the first science fiction novel I've read, that sits comfortably in the category of modern SFF.

What a choice to start with.

There were minor issues with the first book of the Expanse Series, but they were just that; small details or niggles that related more to my personal preference than the overall effect of the book. Any book will have small niggles and no book is perfect, especially the first in a series: the writer is setting up the world and the plot, both at the same time, and it takes time. Skilled writers will do both simultaneously, and Corey managed that.

I'll say now that I was impressed.

I have never read "space opera" before, and honestly, I'm uncertain as to what general consensus takes it to mean. I've taken to thinking of it as follows: Space Opera is to science fiction, what Epic Fantasy is to fantasy. Not a hard and fast rule, but it works for me and my purposes so far. In every way, Leviathan Wakes was a new adventure for me.

It aims to fill the gap between humanity's colonisation of the solar system, and our flight beyond into the deeper unknown of space. It does a good job of imagining what humanity will begin to evolve into, given the chance to develop without constant gravity. A lot of science fiction chooses to have Earth or near-Earth level gravity on its space stations, colonies and colonised domes, so this was a bit of a change. I suspect it helped set the mood better for the tensions between Earthers and Belters, creating more noticeable differences between the two sides, but it worked well despite feeling a little engineered.

The narrative skips between two characters, and these POVs alternate throughout the novel.

Jim Holden, native of Earth and XO of the Canterbury--an ice hauler en route from Saturn's rings--is a general good guy who has had a lot of free time on the Cant to think about his mistakes and his dishonourable discharge. He believes in doing the `right thing' and sometimes doesn't think things through as much as a situation requires. Essentially he is a very well-meaning, honest idealist. So when he becomes the catalyst for a shooting war between Mars and the OPA, and everyone in the solar system wants a piece of him, with few friends and many enemies, Holden has to navigate the virtual battlefield well enough to keep himself and his crew out of the firing line.

Detective Miller hails from the colonised Ceres. Working a private security contract and still nursing feelings leftover from a divorce, Miller isn't at his best. He's getting old, jaded and is long-past too tired. Living on the Belt lends a certain perspective; when even your air is shipped in from a place difficult to locate on a map, it's hard to be the idealist that Holden is. But when Miller is given an under-the-table assignment, a favour for the shareholders, things begin to change. The target is Juliette Andromeda Mao, and he's to find the rich girl runaway and bring her back to mummy and daddy. It's your average kidnap job. Nothing to speak of...until finding Julie appears to lead him straight to the centre of a brewing war, in the middle of which, Jim Holden seems to be standing.

When these two men cross paths, the whole galaxy threatens to go to hell.

The plotting is tight and every detail of the story is well-executed. Both character arcs are seamlessly interwoven and neither outshines the other. Holden and Miller are constantly on equal footing and maintain a constant status quo. They are both very different men, and therefore stories, but impossibly compelling and fantastically individual.

The best part of Leviathan Wakes is the way the characters are written. I have scarcely read a book with such strong, real, normal people presented as characters. Not a single character, main, sub or minor, is a stock type and nothing is forced, staged or feels like a plot device. The people in Leviathan Wakes are just that; people.

It makes for astoundingly enjoyable reading. Everyone has a personality all their own and it's something often lacking to a point in much SFF. Sure, not all characters are stiff and wooden and not all are cliché, but Corey goes the extra mile in Leviathan Wakes and really raises the bar on his to craft believable, real, and compelling characters. It's all so damn natural.

And it's why I bumped my initial rating of four stars, up to a full-rounded five. Leviathan Wakes reads like watching a film or TV series: the characters are so real that they move off the page and the writing that accompanies them is stylish, sophisticated and gives them the perfect stage upon which to shine.

It's a gritty(ish), dark and biting little insight into the darker side of humanity, that holds the worst analysis of the human condition in one hand, measured against the best of it in the other. It's a classy, smart and grown-up read that is utterly engrossing and worryingly accurate.

Definitely a winner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, 23 Feb 2012
By 
G. Heywood (Northamptonshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
I owe someone a beer. There was an Amazon thread where someone recommended this as a good sci-fi book. On the look out for a new author and an excuse to read another modern Sci-fi (the last one was The Algebraist, which I found very rewarding), I took the plunge.

The setting is our fairly familiar solar system. Mars, the Moon, and several other moons and asteroids around the Solar System are populated by humanity and there are three major governments (or political entities). Earth (UN), Mars, and The Belt (pretty much most of the rest). I must admit, I had a few pangs of disappointment at reading this as my first thought was that this was going to quite limiting. However it isn't, and in fact, it helps the story move along. I found it quite easy to relate to the people and places and I am certainly no astronomer.

Ultimately though, a book needs more than a setting, it needs characters, it needs a good plot, it needs tension, and crisis... Of course this book has all of that in spades. It really doesn't take long at all to get to know the characters and appreciate their differences as they are whipped along by the fast paced plot. And tension is also abundant throughout the book. Each chapter is done from the POV of a particular character, which works well (and also seemed rather familiar). In fact, the author is an assistant to the writer of Game of Thrones. I found this out after being approximately 10% of the way through the book, and to be honest, I was disappointed (to be fair, I need to give Game of Thrones another go, but it didn't really enthral me). However, I didn't need to be as Carey is his own man and a great writer.

No review could fail to mention the humour too. This isn't intended to be Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and doesn't try to be, but it does mix humour in with a thrilling book.

Leviathan Wakes is a fantastic book. Forget that it is set in space, this book is full of high intensity passages I really struggled to close the kindle app and do something else. It is the type of book where even at work, I found myself discretely just reading "one more page..." while sitting at my desk. I can't wait for the next part to be released.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular, 10 Feb 2012
By 
Andrew Swingler "Swiss" (Im From England!) - See all my reviews
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I'll admit im not overly fond of serialised novels, i'm much likelier to read something if its a one off story, that's just me. I probably wouldn't have chosen Leviathan Wakes if the second or following book(s) we already out, it's more of a commitment and i didn't want to wade into a dull series that might have disapointed me. Quite often i end up enjoying serial novels but i chose to read Leviathan Wakes because it was new and not the daunting image of 6 novels worth of wandering one particular galaxy. Silly i know.

That said, im Very glad i've read this book. it's by far the best science fiction book i've read in a long time, completely gripping, solidly and artfully written, just wonderful. Fun Fact: the authour is actually two authours! which i assume helps explain the dual storylines that tangle together through the novel. I'm guessing they wrote a character each but i could well be wrong. Multiple storylines is hardly unique in books and crops up all over fiction, what makes it so special in Leviathan Wakes is the clever and tight timing used to switch between the two main characters. No sooner has some exciting development occured in one characters chapter, the reaction and fallout is presented from the other characters viewpoint, it's like being in a car crash and being able to watch it happen at the same time (or something like that).

I can see a lot of influences in the story, and the books final sequence features a trope used often in science fiction the 'Space Chase' where somebody is chasing the 'weird fast thing' through the final few chapters of the universe in a frantic bid to end the novel! (See: Housuke Nojiri's Usurper of the sun, Iain M Bank's Excession as two examples) im not knocking this common climax its just something that appears a lot, and makes me smile when it crops up again.

Mostly im just plain impressed by the tense pacing of the story and how well it plays out. Satisfiying & Pacey Action, fronted by well writen varied characters. I can happily say this time in looking forward to the next in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, but stop here., 3 July 2014
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
Good story, worth a read for sure.
I've read all four in the series now, but I would not however, recommend that you read beyond this book.
The remaining 3 are very fomulaic rehashed versions of this book with slightly different ancillary characters, slightly different settings, but the same outcomes for all. The structure makes itself felt when you pick up book two, and you realise that no matters what happens in the middle, the beginning and end will be the same. Book three confirmed this and by the 4th book, it just leaves you feeling that the characters are cardboard cut outs, which spoils what could have been a classic if they'd just rolled it into one book and got rid of all the dross.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars sifi opera, 1 April 2014
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
hmmm, it is what it is, but above all it's entertaining. Some times characters are a bit two-dimensional for my liking yet that does not take away from storytelling. I got next two books as well ... if you like sifi opera type stories this is solid example.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grips from the the very first page!, 2 Jan 2014
By 
Kate (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse series (Kindle Edition)
Several centuries in the future, mankind has colonised the planets and asteroids of the solar system but war between Earth and Mars threatens. Those working in the outer asteroid belt - the Belters - have little time for the Inners and as time has gone by their bodies have evolved, lengthened, lightened to demonstrate their difference from those who live on the inner planets. Life is difficult, crowded, suspicious.

Leviathan Wakes tells the story of two men - Miller, a Belter detective on Ceres and Holden, the Commanding Officer from Earth on a water-hauler that mines ice-comets to replenish the tanks of Ceres and colonies in the belt. When Holden answers a distress signal from a derelict ship he discovers a mystery that others will pursue. His own vessel is torn apart and when Holden blames Martian technology tensions soar. But even when Holden and his surviving crew are handed over to Martian authorities, he is still pursued by violence and deadly force. On Ceres Detective Miller has been given a problem to solve, one that is secondary to his normal role supporting the status quo on this wild west frontier in the belt. He is told to find Julie Mao, a girl with a powerful background who comes to obsess Holden's thoughts until nothing is as important as finding Julie.

Leviathan Wakes is a spectacular novel. The first in a space opera series it soars almost immediately and lays the solar system open to our exploration. From the horrific and compelling prologue, I was hooked. Much of the success is due, I think, to the division of the narrative into chapters that alternate been Holden and Miller. These are two very different men. One is still optimistic, with honour, wanting to do the right thing, to avenge his friends who are killed so pointlessly and instantly, while helping those who are caught in the blight that threatens the solar system.

Miller is jaded, divorced and cynical. This is no normal police force he works for - it is a security service paid for by the protection racket that just happens to be in power. But it's clear that something is happening to unsettle these gangs and as tensions build between Earth and Mars and the Belters, and clues drop that Julie's family may know something about it, his hunt for the missing girl takes him away from Ceres. Miller comes to believe that Julie may be the key to understanding the malevolent force that is threatening the system, even transforming it.

There is no let up in pace here. The book shuttles backwards and forwards between the two stories, drawing them ever closer. Action scenes are interspersed with passages of glorious description, bringing this entire world to life, whether aboard a spaceship, an asteroid or a planet. Characters are richly created, whether they manage to survive a chapter or not. Holden is always likeable whereas Miller is disturbing and dark. All the time, in the background, is Julie and the threat that shadows the solar system. Something truly evil, unknowable at best, is at work here and for much of the novel it's difficult to tell whether it's manmade or alien. But its impact on life is mindbendingly horrible and there are moments in this book that I will never forget. Even apart from the adventure, there is the fascinating social interplay that goes on between Earthers, Martians and Belters. The stars are out of reach - our solar system is crowded.

Leviathan Wakes grips from the beginning and it never lets up until the end and even then, while finishing in a satisfying manner, it makes you want to lurch onward to the next books in the series. I bought Caliban's War and Abaddon's Gate as I read this. The mix of adventure, mystery, great characters and superb worldbuilding is irresistible. Above all else, Leviathan Wakes is a good story very well told and I'm delighted to have embarked on this series and long may it continue.
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