Review: Abaddon’s Gate

Posted: February 7, 2014 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: James S.A. Corey, Science Fiction

I swear, I don’t have a man crush on Daniel Abraham. Neither does anyone else here at EBR…

…OK that isn’t entirely true.

Look, the dude is awesome. Whether he’s writing Urban Fantasy under the name of M.L.N. Hanover, or straight-up Fantasy as Daniel Abraham, he’s equally good. Same goes for James S.A. Corey, which is the name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck working together while writing Science Fiction. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving all the credit to Abraham for the works of James S.A. Corey. I’m not. Ty Franck is doing his part, and absolutely killing it. I mean… geez.

I’m gonna open up here. I just don’t like Science Fiction that much. I keep trying, and trying, only to find the same things that bother me. Shallow characters. Over-reliance on neat technology. Assuming the reader has a PHD in Theoretical Physics. Ignoring basic Physics that even an idiot like me can see through.

The pair that makes up James S.A. Corey somehow understand my pain, and those that share it.

ABADDON’S GATE (Amazon) is the third novel in The Expanse, and while it has many of the issues of the typical middle book of a series, it is still far-and-away one of the best SF series on the market today.

This newest novel follows Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante as they join a massive flotilla going to investigate the gate opened by the protomolecule at the end of CALIBAN’S WAR (EBR Review). Before I go on, I have to warn anyone reading this:

DON’T READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE 2ND BOOK IN THE SERIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(yes, extra “!’s” added for extreme emphasis)

That’s your warning. Don’t cry to me if you ignore it.

So yeah. Freaking Detective Miller is BACK!!! Kinda. Maybe. Is it actually him? That’s a big part of the mystery of this book. Holden teaming up with a Miller that only he can see to figure out what the protomolecule was up to when it opened the gate. As is usual in the series, a whole separate group of PoV characters is introduced, who each have a huge role to play in the story.

This is where I had my biggest issues with the novel… though they really aren’t that huge. By the end of each book in the series, I become used to the PoV characters outside of the crew to the Rocinante. It usually takes a while. So when they don’t show up in the next novel, I lose a bit of that continuity. Same thing happened when I started ABADDON’S GATE. I just had a hard time with the new characters. Only this time I never really got over the newness of them. One seems to solely exist to show how religion and faith have progressed. The other to serve as a villain of sorts for much of the novel (though her agenda felt forced). I think my reactions are partly based on my brain saying, “Don’t bother getting attached. They will be gone in the next novel anyway.” Not gonna lie; to me it’s a problem.

But aside from that, I don’t really have much to complain about. In fact, one of those characters I’m bugged about still managed to bring in two of the elements I found most interesting in the novel: religion and faith. I’m a religious guy, and I tend to be bothered a bit by the casual dismissal of religion in 90% of SF novels. It isn’t just that it isn’t present, but that the authors seem to go out of their way to make it seem like anyone who does believe in any sort of religion as an idiot–including the reader. That isn’t the case here in ABADDON’S GATE. Corey seems to take a realistic look at how religion and faith could continue to be a valid and inspiring parts of people’s lives, regardless of how far in the future we are. The novel also has the characters tackling very hard religious issues. I have to hand it to the authors, and thank them. Thank you for not taking the easy way out.

ABBADON'S GATE isn't perfect. That's OK. It still adds awesome stuff to, in my mind, the best on-going SF series out there right now.

And this is why I am so impressed by this novel, and all the others that Abraham writes. It’s the attention to detail in all forms. I don’t know what his or Franck’s personal philosophies are. But I like that, regardless, they seem to be handling them all with respect and with care. Why is this important in storytelling? Because it makes every character that much more believable. Their varied fictional mindsets are real and distinct within the context of the story. The attention to detail here is what set this novel and series apart from all other SF.

Now, as to the story itself, and what is through the gate the protomolecule opens… well. Let’s just say it opens this universe up infinitely. The series name “The Expanse” suddenly has more meaning than ever before. ABBADON’S GATE is, in essence, a transitional novel. The scale and the stakes have been increased dramatically. I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

ABBADON’S GATE isn’t perfect. That’s OK. It still adds awesome stuff to, in my mind, the best on-going SF series out there right now.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Seems like it was more than usual
  • Violence: This one was pretty violent in a few parts. As usual, it was handled extremely well.
  • Sex: Nothing detailed

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