For generations the solar system–Mars, the moon, the asteroid belt–was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark.
Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.
Author: James S.A. Corey
Narrator: Jefferson Mays
Series: The Expanse #3
Run Time: 18 hrs 24 mins
Audio Release Date: 05/02/2015
My Rating of ‘Abaddon’s Gate’: 3 out of 5
Where to start with this one? It’s a hard one for me to review as I found myself both enjoying it (mostly near the end) and wishing it would just hurry up and get to the point that it seemed so intent on dancing around.
Abaddon’s Gate had its good parts, just not consistently as much as it should. There was a lot of ship-wide intrigue going on with various factions doing their utmost to get their own ways for certain things. Yet, for all of this, it just never felt as though it had an urgency to it. And I mean that from the word go. The opening just failed to grip me or even interest me. In all fairness, it took me a while to understand what was going on. I feel this is due to a bit of a hangover from Caliban’s War.
That may sound like a bit of a bizarre statement, but I just felt with so many ‘wow’ moments that happened in Caliban’s War, the ending leaving open so many interesting plotlines that I thought would be explored deeply in this one only to find out that I was wrong in that assumption. To say everything that happened in Caliban’s War was ignored is wrong, they were explored, just not in great detail.
I suppose I am guilty of analysing them side by side. Caliban’s War had an awesome, high-octane opening. Abaddon’s Gate did not. What it had didn’t even come close in my opinion to the sort of opening that would make me eager to dive further in. Caliban’s War had interesting characters that were fleshed out so well and made the entire universe feel more complete because of that. Abaddon’s Gate had none of those characters (other than the crew of the Roci). The new players in Caliban’s War were replaced with a cast of uninteresting characters that never really had much hope, or chance, of living up to the brilliance of those that came before them. They had their moments, just not enough to make me love them. In truth, I can’t even remember a vast amount about them. Whereas I can remember pretty much everything about Bobby, Prax and Avasarala.
Looking back, I did feel things for characters at certain points and certain things have stuck with me. But, for nine times out of ten, they were things that happened to characters that had been established in the earlier books. Not the newer ones. Even the villains felt like poor re-hashes of those from previous books.
It may sound like I really didn’t enjoy the book. That’s not true. I did, I just felt let down by it in ways I wasn’t expecting to be let down by a book in the Expanse series. There was a bit (not much, or just not as much as I expected) of furthering their knowledge of the protomolecule. There were some really good fight scenes and some intense moments that, as I mentioned earlier, have stuck with me. The character-building, although lacking as far as the previous books go, did provide some real vivid and punchy moments. Certainly one or two more grey characters in this one than before. Whilst I’m still on the subject of characters, I just wish more page time was given to the crew of the Roci. They are what make this series and it felt a little bland due to having them in it less than before.
I’m certainly going to keep on with the series as I have every hope that it will push on and get better. I’m just glad I listened to the audio version of this as it made the slower portions of it far easier to get through. Perhaps one more reason I didn’t get into this one too much might have been that I got through the first three books pretty much back to back. Perhaps a bit of sci-fi burnout hit me?