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Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Abaddon's Gate

I think I've figured out how to read The Expanse series of novels, of which Abaddon's Gate is the third novel. It is also clearly an original intended "end" of the trilogy, though like any modern author, when you get success in a series, you'll just churn out as many follow up novels as your readers can stand. The series works if you stop pretending that it's science fiction, but instead consider it to be space fantasy. Most of the mysteries and items of interest bend or break the laws of physics, and probably will never be explained to the satisfaction of an Alastair Reynolds or Stephen Baxter novel.

Taken from that perspective, the first two Expanse novels were readable, but not great, since their characters weren't developed well enough, but the "space opera" aspects were sufficiently well done that the ending of the second novel compelled me to put a hold on the third novel. In this novel, the mystery is that of the direct consequences of the first novel have taken fruition and now takes the form of a space station known as "The Ring."

Consequences of the events of the first novel also put Jim Holden's ship in jeopardy, and we get a situation in which Jim, haunted by the ghost of the other protagonist in that novel, on a collision course with The Ring. The characters by this time are well established, and no longer the caricature that they mostly were in the first two novels. Holden no longer comes across as a pure ideologue through the plot device by which his natural tendencies are favored instead of being idiotic.

As an action/adventure/suspense novel the story works well enough that I found myself enjoying the novel. The plot is unfortunately still predictable, but would make for good TV.

Recommended as an airplane novel.

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