Review | Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

Abaddon's Gate

Have I got a treat for you, the cure for your mid-summer doldrums.


With Abaddon’s Gate, James S. A. Corey brings to a conclusion the epic space opera series The Expanse with a bang that can only be described as explosive, even if it does have slow fuse to put all the pieces in place with an explosive and satisfying conclusion.

And it’s all in the name.

If you Google the word “Abaddon,” you’ll find that it is a Hebraic word that refers to a place of destruction. In the New Testament Book of Revelation, it is the name given to an angel who is shown as the king of an army of locusts, even being variously translated as exterminator or destroyer.

While I figured that out long before it mattered, I was still surprised at how accurate a description it was. But I’ll leave it at that to avoid spoilers. Let me just say that if something can go wrong for our heroes, it does. Over and over again.

In a future time where humanity has spilled out across the solar system, colonizing Mars, the moons of the gas giants, and the asteroid ring, an alien threat has appeared from beyond the stars. In Leviathan Wakes and Caliban’s War we saw the protomolecule break life down to its building blocks, defy the laws of physics and of nature, and create advanced technology in under the poisonous Venusian skies. Now it has launched a giant ring into orbit past Uranus, and a flotilla of all the nations of man are flying out to investigate it.

And so is Jim Holden. Our everyman hero, long tired of his days of “saving the solar system” and humanity, from itself and from the protomolecule, is planning on putting himself as far away from the ring as possible. Unfortunately for him, and his crew on the Rocinante, someone has other plans for him and once more he’ll find himself at the center of the action again, to be hated, to be love, and perhaps to stand at the crossroads of humanities future.

If you enjoyed the Hugo nominated Leviathan Wakes, you should be wasting no time in picking up a copy of Abaddon’s Gate. More than just a flimsy piece of space opera, Corey (the pen name of co-authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) has weaved the story through with hope and revenge, fall and redemption against a backdrop of space battles, alien civilizations, and zero gravity shoot-outs. There’s a little of everything for everyone.

If I have any gripes about the book, it’s that it takes a while to put all the pieces in place to start the action. For that reason, the pacing occasionally seems to suffer from starts and stops that throw off the flow. Further, so much time is spent developing certain characters motivation for revenge, that I struggled when they seemed to suddenly slip from villain to hero. It’s a credible shift, in the balance, but could have been more carefully developed.

I liked Abaddon’s Gate, and like its predecessors, it’s a great book for a warm summer, whether by the pool, under a tree, or on a road trip. I may never land on the moon or experience null gravity, let alone fight an alien threat, but James S.A. Corey does a great job of making me feel like I have.

About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog PubliusOnline.com where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.

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