In my review for Caliban’s War, I had been wavering on whether or not to stick with the Expanse series. I was so torn that the third book, Abaddon’s Gate, had about a 50/50 chance of keeping me, and I’ll admit that I went into it with cautious expectations. As a warning, what follows is a general discussion of the book. While I don’t post blatant spoilers, revealing plot points from previous novels is somewhat unavoidable at this point. If you have yet to read this far, or are watching the SyFy series, proceed at your own risk.
The events of Abaddon’s Gate occur roughly a year after the end of the previous book. James Holden and the crew of the Rocinante have been enjoying a period of success, translating their fame and notoriety into a series of lucrative security contracts. Despite their newfound comfort Holden is troubled by past events involving the alien protomolecule, most notably due to its consciousness having begun reaching out to him in the form of Detective Miller. Adding to his worries is the revelation that the ring-shaped structure launched from Venus is a gateway to an advanced transportation network, and there is no telling who, or what, is lurking on the other side. In reluctantly accepting a job transporting a film crew to the device, Holden decides to face his fears and hopefully appease the Miller apparition. Events, however, have a way of blowing up around him. When a saboteur bombs a UN destroyer and frames the Rocinante, Holden and crew have no choice but to flee through the gate to buy time to clear their names. On the other side they find the unimaginable: an empty space filled only by a field of other gateways, controlled by a mysterious space station. With a coalition of UN, Martian, and OPA ships in pursuit, survival for Holden becomes a race to unlock the secrets of the station and find a way to get everyone back home, ideally proving his innocence in the process.
This book made me glad I stuck with the series as I found it the best installment so far. I am getting into the politics and mysteries of the overarching story and the new twists in this novel really got me wanting more. Indeed, this was the first installment in which I felt a real sense of danger for any of the core group and there was an excellent feeling of suspense throughout. Once things go wrong inside the gate, the technological and psychological struggles made for excellent reading. Going back to the characters, this was my favorite overall cast so far and on the whole I like the increasingly varied and diverse people populating these books. Notably, this installment was a bit less centered on Holden, another huge plus in my view. Although he is still no doubt the main player in this universe, I find him much better in smaller doses where he isn’t the primary mover of events. POV character Carlos “Bull” de Baca was one of my top three in the series thus far and one of the others, Clarrissa Mao, was very good as well. In combination with an interesting supporting cast, they easily made up for the weakness of Anna Volovodov, the fourth main character. I am pleased to say that I got more than enough enjoyment of this book to eagerly continue on with the series.