The Expanse, #3 – Abaddon’s Gate (BOOK REVIEW)


Abaddon’s Gate, the third book in James S. A. Corey’s Expanse series is the most philosophical, most inter-dimensional, the most different, and certainly the most hopeful novel in the series to date – but it’s that hope that leads to the series greatest anticlimax yet. But as I’m only three novels in, that’s not such an anticlimax as I’m letting on.

Taking place roughly a year after the events in Caliban’s War, things have sort of settled down. The mass of flesh, rock, and station – the “proto-molecule,” as the leviathan is vaguely termed, has left Venus, and is now relocated on the far side of Uranus. It’s twisted itself into a giant “ring” (not unlike Halo) for no apparent reason, until that reason is later uncovered to be the presence of a portal to who knows where. The last remaining daughter of the extremely wealthy Mao (who’s empire was destroyed after he tried to play around with said proto-molecule so as to weaponize it) is out for mad revenge against James Holden and his crew. Events set in stone by her hands lead his ship and a number of others into the portal, this worm-hole of a thing, only to find that on the other side is a whole lot of nothing, a dimension where physics don’t quite work the same way.

The story follows four plots, which like the previous books, interlock at the end magnificently. But unlike the previous books, the different characters introduced just weren’t as interesting to me. The most interesting is the crazed Melba (aka Clarissa Mao) and how she must continually face her inner demons and cast aside her morality to see that Holden gets torn asunder. Then there’s the older general Bull of the OPA (Outer Planetary Alliance) who is only mildly interesting after he suffers a crippling accident which forces him to ride a mech for the rest of the novel. And then least interesting is Anna, a Russian priest of Earth – necessary to the plot because… she’s good at giving sermons. Again, the most gratifying plot line is driven by primary protagonist James Holden.

But despite certain misgivings, the rest of the novel is a beautiful glimpse into a burgeoning galaxy that Corey is sure to delve heavily into in the next installment Cibola Burn and beyond. By the end of the story the universe is opened up to all for discovery, and that is just so so cool. Although the threat of the proto-molecule has diminished tremendously with this installment (which is kind of a shame), the tonal shift to this series is tremendously tantalizing. Some may feel a bit let down by certain revelations, but I feel that the author(s) may have boxed themselves in with the previous novels and needed this plot twist to keep moving forward, and I’m totally along for the ride at this point. It’ll surely spur the human race into first contact and perhaps greater peril.

One thing I truly loved about this novel was how Detective Miller of Leviathan Wakes was brought back into the story. Although long dead, he’d appear to Holden giving cryptic lines here and there, eventually to make sense at the end. Brilliant SciFi/Fantasy that. Abaddon’s Gate is space opera at its finest. Where the other books felt more like Attack on Titan/Game of Thrones in space, this was far more Battlestar Galactica. And by the next book I can kinda guess it’ll start feeling more like Star Trek – again, a welcome tonal shift if that comes to pass.

“Abaddon’s Gate”. What does this mean? I’ve dissected the titles of Leviathan’s Wake and Caliban’s War in previous reviews. This title is slightly easier to comprehend actually, if you get the reference. It’s a biblical term – Hebrew for “destruction,” – Apollyon being its Greek alternative. At Revelation 9:11 (concerning the symbolic plague of locusts) it mentions that they have “a king, the angel of the abyss” named Abaddon. And an abyss is what the gate, this trans-dimensional ring, leads to. Simple enough.

Yeah, this is a great book, not the best in the series, but a great series overall. I look forward to seeing how well SyFy adapts this for television. I foresee this third book being the most colorful translation from book to screen. If you want to give this series a shot, grab your copies from Amazon by clicking on the pictures below!

Grab it in:
Paperback | eBook | Audible
Book #1 – Leviathan Wakes:
My Review | Paperback | eBook | Audible
Book #2 – Caliban’s War:
My Review | Paperback | eBook | Audible
Book #4 – Cibola Burn:
My Review | Paperback | eBook | Audible
Book #5 – Nemesis Games:
My ReviewHardcover | eBook | Audible

8 thoughts on “The Expanse, #3 – Abaddon’s Gate (BOOK REVIEW)

  1. Chris

    I either found a mistake in the book, or overlooked something that lead me to think I found a mistake. In the beginning of the book, a ship called the Y Que shoots through the Ring at top speed, and the passenger is crushed, when his ship hits the “slow zone” inside, and his ship’s speed is hugely diminished. Later in the book, the Rocinante is out running a torpedo chasing them, passes through the Ring at top speed, and no one seems to suffer any ill effects. Did I miss something?

    Liked by 1 person

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