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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The third novel of The Expanse
The protomolecule, once confined to Venus, has managed to launch a self-assembling Ring that sits outside the orbit of Uranus. Anything that tries to fly through the middle of the Ring comes to an immediate stop before it begins a slow motion trip in a different direction, leading to the conclusion that the ring is some sort of gate. Representatives of Earth, Mars, and...
Published 20 months ago by TChris

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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Letdown after the buildup of the first two books
Although I enjoyed both Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) and Caliban's War (The Expanse), I wasn't quite as impressed by Abaddon's Gate. The book is very readable and moves along at a decent pace. The problem is that the sense of wonder, awe, and fear from the first two books is completely absent in this outing.

In Leviathan's Wake, the authors created an...
Published 19 months ago by Michael


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64 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The third novel of The Expanse, June 4, 2013
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
The protomolecule, once confined to Venus, has managed to launch a self-assembling Ring that sits outside the orbit of Uranus. Anything that tries to fly through the middle of the Ring comes to an immediate stop before it begins a slow motion trip in a different direction, leading to the conclusion that the ring is some sort of gate. Representatives of Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets all converge on the Ring, as do Jim Holden and his crew. Although Holden would prefer not to investigate the protomolecule's latest actions, he's given no choice. Of course, from the moment the Ring is introduced, the reader knows that Holden will fly through it.

As you would expect, Holden and his crew (Naomi, Alex, and Amos) return in this third novel of The Expanse. As you might not expect, so does Josephus Miller, who is back from the dead. Or maybe it's not Miller, but something Miller-like is a key character again. Speaking of the dead, Julie Mao is echoed in her sister Clarissa, now known as Melba Koh. She blames Holden for Julie's death (or transformation) and she's devised a cunning plan to obtain revenge. None of this will make the slightest bit of sense unless you've read Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, which I would urge any fun-seeking fan of science fiction to do. You could probably understand and enjoy Abaddon's Gate without reading the first two novels, but you'd be missing sooooo much context that it would be a mistake.

Other significant characters (some new, some returning from earlier books) include: Anna Volovodov, a member of the clergy who joins a UN advisory group on a mission to the Ring; Carlos Baca, a/k/a Bull, the untrusted security chief from Earth on a converted generation ship named Behemoth that belongs to the Outer Planets; Sam Rosenberg, Behemoth's chief engineer; Clarissa's wealthy aunt, Tilly Fagan; and Monica Stuart, a journalist who accompanies Holden and his crew, documenting their response to the Ring.

As they proved in the first two books, the writing team known as James S.A. Corey knows how to tell a fast-moving story that mixes humor with drama. This time, Holden is up against a space station that makes the Death Star look like a slingshot, as well as the usual array of humans who would like to jettison him out an airlock. While the action is never shortchanged (there's enough to satisfy the most ardent space opera fan), the novels are so good because the writers bring the story back to the people who are affected by it. The writers have a keen understanding of human nature and a remarkable ability to translate that understanding into emotionally complex, fully formed characters. Holden, in particular, changes a bit in every novel. This time, having lost his self-righteousness, he struggles against "creeping nihilism" and tries to recapture a sense of purpose.

Heroism and self-sacrifice have been consistent themes in The Expanse, and that remains true in Abaddon's Gate. Unlikely heroes have always emerged in these novels, and one of the new characters might be the unlikeliest of them all. As one of the minor characters notes, heroism is what happens when people don't think about the consequences of their actions. As another character demonstrates, the same is true of people who commit evil acts. Circumstances often dictate heroism, just as they dictate villainy, a subtle point that Abaddon's Gate illustrates brilliantly.

The writing is strikingly visual. Reading the Corey novels is like watching an extraordinarily detailed movie. Like the other novels in The Expanse, Abaddon's Gate delivers what fans want from space opera -- furious interstellar action, a sense of wonder and awe -- but it does more than that. The addition of a clergy member to the story invites discussions of philosophy -- not dry sermons or religious musings, but meaningful thought about forgiveness and the possibility of redemption and the benefit of using persuasion, rather than violence, to achieve just ends (themes that are present in each novel, but sharpened in focus in Abaddon's Gate). The novel is funny and exciting and moving and, on occasion, it comes close enough to being profound to set it apart from the vast majority of space opera.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Letdown after the buildup of the first two books, June 21, 2013
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Michael (Dover, Delaware) - See all my reviews
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Although I enjoyed both Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse) and Caliban's War (The Expanse), I wasn't quite as impressed by Abaddon's Gate. The book is very readable and moves along at a decent pace. The problem is that the sense of wonder, awe, and fear from the first two books is completely absent in this outing.

In Leviathan's Wake, the authors created an interesting setting with mankind spread about the solar system. There was political tension, personal struggles, and an awesomely terrifying protomolecule on the rampage. I was enchanted by Detective Miller's redemptive quest and grew attached to Holden and his crew. The novel built to a horrifying climax but humanity was saved by heroic sacrifice. Epic stuff and massively entertaining. The book was pretty much the epitome of "show, don't tell" as we're given an up close and intimate ride through the plot.

In Caliban's War, the series lost a bit of focus by expanding the number of viewpoints but the new characters were interesting (especially the caustic Chrisjen Avasarala.) The tension was ratcheted up as once again the corporations attempt to bend the protomolecule to their will and things go spectacularly wrong. Holden and company are right in the thick of things. Add in a shooting war and the sudden appearance of the artifact from Venus and the novel's roller-coaster ride ends on an ominous note. Great stuff and a page turner that I knocked out in two days.

*** mild spoilers ***

Then, we get to Abaddon's Gate. It starts promisingly with events pushing Holden and crew along with multiple (semi-hostile) fleets together into alien space, a bizarre alien artifact that bends the very laws of physics, and a handful of new characters (the only standout being Bull) with their own agendas and concerns. Where the first two books deftly combined alien machinations, mega-corporation intrigue, and personal struggles against a backdrop of interplanetary political struggles, Abbadon's Gate largely abandons that in favor of a much smaller story that takes place mostly on a single ship.

A daughter of one of the megacorp's executives is out for revenge - right up until she has an epiphany about the futility of hating Holden and about how she was really hating herself. Or Daddy. Or something. Whatever, didn't stop her from joining up with the next set of bad guys she runs into. Honestly, what the heck was with that entire character arc?

A priest joins the expedition because she's interested in how the Gate/Ring tie into the greater framework of His plans. Oh, that and she apparently exists to be there to teach Melba about forgiveness and redemption.

To make matters worse, most of the Roci's crew are sidelined for the bulk of the story. The Roci itself is, effectively, absent from the story. Holden, although present, is a shadow of his former self both in terms of the vibrancy of his character and his effective role in the plot. Worse, it feels that he is present mostly as a conduit for an info dump explaining the purpose of the artifact. At the end of the book, River Tam... uh, I mean Melba finds a new home and place in the universe and we'll apparently be seeing more of her in future sequels.

Despite being an easy read due to the author's writing style, it's an ultimately empty experience that serves as a placeholder for the next book which will presumably see mankind head out into the stars. Hopefully there the series will recapture what made it so awesome to begin with.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great series rolls on, but shows signs of expansion, June 4, 2013
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
"Abaddon's Gate" by the writing team of James S. A. Corey continues the Expanse series in page turning fashion with action galore. The book isn't quite as sharp as the first two as the expansion on-the-fly of the series weighs a bit on the plot and structure. Still, a fun summer read. 4 stars.

It's hard to find good modern space opera - likely since most people who are capable of writing it probably end up doing screenplays instead as the payoff is far more lucrative - but Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck really brought a breath of fresh air to the genre with Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War. Their mix of modern characters, reasonable science along with the fiction, plentiful action, and multiple plot twists resulted in two very good books and the expansion by the publisher of what was supposed to be a trilogy into a six book saga.

As "Abbadon's Gate" starts, all three major powers are at a standoff as to how to deal with the events of the cliffhanger ending of Caliban's War, where the original threat of the protomolecule has evolved into something larger - the gate of the book's title. Meanwhile, James Holden is still haunted by another cliffhanger, who turns out to be not just non-corporeal but nonsensical, and is generally enjoying life. However, the political events of the first two books inspire a conspiracy to jolt both the powers and Holden out of their complacency and deal with all the Gate represents, and the book takes off from there.

It's hard to provide commentary on a page turner like this without ruining things, but there are a few points. A bunch of major characters in the first two books don't appear in this one, and the vast majority of the action has the main protagonists of the Rocinante involved but off to the side. Most of the newer characters are generally well written and their stories interesting, but a couple of the supporting cast arcs aren't as well done. One major plot twist that sets up the last third of the book seems slightly forced as well, and overall the book doesn't feel as tight as the first two in the series.

All this fits with the series being expanded on-the-fly by the publisher, where what was originally supposed to be a conclusion ends up being a middle book. It's not badly done by any means and this is a still a fun read, but it just feels like the two authors bolted on a bunch of material onto what would have been the previous ending to the series in a way that would allow more books.

Still, it's a great summer read, and the best news is that the new characters and expansion of the storyline here means that the sequels should be fun too. Definitely should read the first two books before this, though. 4 stars.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Series never lived up to Leviathan Wakes, April 28, 2014
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Let me start by saying that Leviathan Wakes (the first book in the series), and that the writing team that is James S.A. Corey hasn't lost the ability to craft strong characters and produce excellent scenes.

With that being said, Abaddon's Gate (and to a lesser degree Caliban's War) failed to live up to the potential of Leviathan. The end of the first book left so many questions, so many mysteries surrounding the protomolecule, its origin, and purpose, that I couldn't wait to read more, and there was a core group of characters that the reader had gotten to know and love ready to find some answers.

Then came Caliban's War. Good book, and it introduced the best character in the series with Avasarala, but the plot was a side show to the real story (whatever was going on down on Venus). There was even dialogue to the effect of "You know, this Mars-Earth conflict is distracting us from the real threat. Oh well, let's keep fighting each other". So the reader got another nearly 600 pages of space-faring governments blundering into an obviously orchestrated war, developing characters we pretty much already knew and understood. Oh well, it was well written, and the additional characters were interesting enough, and with that ring thing at the end, surely there will be some answers in the next book.

And finally we get to Abaddon's gate. Again, we get close to 600 pages bouncing around between characters. Again, we get no real answers. Unfortunately, this time the added characters were detrimental to the story. Bull (whatever his real name was) ended up being pretty solid. The problem was with Anna, who was some kind of pastor/fountain of folksy wisdom/luckiest person alive(seriously, she survived through sheer, dumb luck). Every time she opened her mouth, the book stopped dead while the authors lectured the reader on their religious and social views, and about mankind's place in the universe. It felt like nails on a chalkboard whenever the walking caricature of love, tolerance, and empathy that was Anna opened her mouth. I actually agree with a lot of the points the author team was trying to make, but I still felt insulted.

Ugh. I really hated that character.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wow, that was a huge letdown, December 13, 2013
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I do not think I have read a book series before which have gone from really great to really disappointing in one go like this one just did. There is nothing wrong with the writing itself. It is as good as before. It is the content, the story itself, which is simply disappointing as far as I am concerned.

Apart from Holden and his crew all the nice characters from the previous book like Bobby and the likable bitch Avasarala. The new ones introduced are nowhere near those that we lost in terms of interest and often downright annoying. Miller was brought back but he is not really the old Miller, not surprisingly, and more of a tool than an interesting character.

I was hoping that we would get more into the mystery of the protomolecule device and of course it plays an important part in the story but more as a piece of background or a prop than the centerpiece that I hoped it would. The events in the book are, at least initially, driven by a crazy and fanatical relative to the bad guy Mao from the previous book and who wants to both kill and discredit Holden for revenge. I was not too crazy about that from the start. Once her plan get going things goes bad rather quickly.

As if this revenge business was not bad enough the author drags in a useless as well as volatile and half-crazy captain, appointed for pretty much nothing but political reasons, and a whole bunch of more or less fanatical religious people. The latter was really dragging down the book for me.

Unfortunately the religious fanatics play a big role in the events in the latter half of the book and, not surprisingly, they cause things to go from bad to worse. Even the good ones of these priests and clerics is really ruining the book with their constant nonsensical preaching about how there were still some good in person x and person y etc. etc. and how we should try and talk to him instead of using violence. The maniac(s) were on the verge of, possibly, exterminating the human race for Christ sake! Just push the f-ckers out of a bloody airlock and be done with it.

I have to say that I am probably not really capable of giving a un-biased, possibly not even a fair, review of this book since I am so disappointed with it given how much I liked the previous ones. It is a well written book. Those of you who liked the previous ones should probably have a go at this one as well. I did not like it but that is because of personal taste.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My head hurts, July 8, 2013
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
This installment of the series is just ridiculous and bi-polar in all things. Lets go down the list.

1. Vast swaths of text is written about killing being unnecessary, and then the killing is necessarily done.

2. A preacher wines on about saving a horrible murderer, but doesn't seemingly care that that person can and will murder hundreds of others.

3. All movement of objects is restricted to about what a human can throw, but bullets work just fine at high speeds. Other processes that require high-speed movement like ship generators, life support fans, and whatever else is needed to run a spaceship work fine too.

4. Did I mention there is a lot of high-ground morality dribble spread out through this book? I once saw a movie that was pretty much a giant anti-gun advertisement that featured the hero engaging in nonstop gun violence. This book feels much the same.

Nothing feels coherent to me. I hate writing a negative review about this series, but I couldn't enjoy this book like the others. Thing is, once you've read the first two, you'll pretty much be driven to slug it out on this last one. Have fun with that.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed opportunity, June 27, 2013
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I will not waste words with yet another brief plot summary. You can get that from dozens of other reviews.

I agree with many different reviewers that this chapter of the expanse series missed a golden opportunity -- to bring forward some of the characters from the previous novels, and make the story line more cohesive! Of course, I'm not talking about the main characters such as Holden's crew and Miller, but some of the bits and pieces of the other novels. It had Martian Marines, so why not bring back Bobbie? I absolutely loved the Bobbie character and wanted to see her kick some more ass in this one. Oh well. It had UN politicians, so why not bring back Avarsala? Her conniving and manipulating could have made the story more interesting. They did bring back Sam and her inclusion into the story seems forced, almost an afterthought, like the authors were afraid to make any old characters have big roles, so they threw here a few lines here and there.

One other thing I felt about this novel was that the "conclusion" or "finale" was far too long. It seemed to me that the "end" was about 40% of the novel (as indicated by my Kindle saying I was at about 60% when the stuff began to happen).

I would have to say the first Expanse novel was 5 stars , the 2nd was 4 stars, and this one was 3 stars. I sure hope the next one does not continue this trend downward.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Diminishing returns, March 25, 2014
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
Abaddon's Gate had so much promise going in. After the epic, closing moments of Caliban's War, with the proto-molecule erupting from a terraformed Venus and assembling a giant ring near the orbit of Neptune, it seemed Abaddon's Gate was destined for great things. Instead, the authors turned away from their strengths in this third installment of the Expanse series to prop up a trifecta of stick-figure villains, and to burden their tale with an absolutely insufferable, brow-beating protagonist.

Abaddon's Gate is an opportunity lost. The authors took epic space opera--potentially on the order of Vernor Vinge's Fire Upon the Deep--and shrunk it down to an improbable (and uncompelling) revenge story and a 100-page long gunfight. Yes, I can see the potential value of crafting a rich, character-level conflict at the edge of the vast unknown. But Abaddon's Gate is not that. In fact, it is the opposite of that.

The authors have struggled with effective characterization throughout the entire series. What has spared them (or, I mean, us) is the fact that these inexpertly drawn characters are generally likable. From James Holden's aw-shucks earnestness to Amos' gentle, wise-cracking veneer, there's *just* enough to these characters to make them compelling. We know they are stick figures, but at least they are stick figures we like, and they are stick figures with reasonable story arcs and reactions to events.

But Anna Volovodov? A disaster. A sanctimonious, speechifying, buzz-kill of a disaster. And don't even get me started on the multiple, inexplicable, absolutely-extreme character turns forced onto Melba, Cortez and Ashford.

Abaddon's Gate could have been a great sci-fi novel. It offered glimpses of that greatness at moments. But alas, the authors failed to take the leap off the high board they themselves had crafted. I understand now there are more Expanse books coming. Perhaps the great tale will be told in those. But after slogging through the uncompelling mess that was Abaddon's Gate, I don't know if I'll be putting down money to find out.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the money...., September 16, 2013
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Teafran (Columbia, SC) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
i had high hopes for this final piece of the trilogy, but it has failed miserably. The whole concept of The Expanse has been stood on its head with new characters that have no personality and no real purpose other than to fill pages of type. The known characters are not what they once were and the plot line is...well obtuse wouldn't be too strong a description.

It is very unfortunate that a great series had ended like this - it deserved much better.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing third book, December 19, 2013
After thoroughly enjoying Leviathan Wakes and Caliban's War, I had high expectations for the third novel. Unfortunately, this book has problems, including a drawn out, choppy, and weak plot, simple writing, and poor character development, a result of having too many characters in too many plot lines.

Several of the plot lines were also unbelievable, sharks jumping, and unnecessary. I also felt that the addition of a contemporary religious plotline to this book also detracted from the overall feel of this series.
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Abaddon's Gate (The Expanse Book 3)
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