The third book in the Expanse series.

Publication year: 2013
Format: print
Publisher: Orbit
Page count: 542 + an excerpt of the next book, Cibola Burn

Abaddon’s Gate starts some months after the ending of the previous book, Caliban’s War. Holden and his crew have a lot of money, even after repairing the Rocinante, and they’re celebrating their good fortune. However, something is disturbing Holden a lot.

Meanwhile, the protomolecule has created a massive ring construct, called the Ring, near the orbit of Uranus. It appears to lead Somewhere Else, perhaps to that part of the universe where the molecule’s alien designers are. Mars and Earth are sending ships to investigate. From Mars they’re most of the military which was left after the previous book but Earth has sent a group of religious leaders, artists, and other civilians together with the military. OPA can’t afford to be left out. So, they’ve done their best to hurriedly change the Nauvoo to a military ship the Behemoth. Nauvoo was the massive ship that was going to be used for colonizing a planet outside the solar system. It’s not built for war and it might fall apart when the massive rail guns are fired the first time. But the Behemoth is joining Mars and Earth fleets at the Ring.

Holden really don’t want to go anywhere near the Ring. He’s looking for any excuse to go the other way. However, Mars has sued him for Rocinante. The only way Holden can keep his ship, which is like a home to him and his crew, is to accept aboard a documentary maker and her crew and head to the Ring. So, that’s what he does.

Like in the previous book, Holden is just one of the four POV characters. Bull, Carlos Baca, is a retired marine who is supposed to be the second-in-command of the Behemoth. But Bull is an Earther, even though he’s spent a lot of time in space, and so a Belter is appointed to that position. Bull becomes the head of security, instead. Bull doesn’t like nor respect captain Ashford whom he thinks isn’t capable of really commanding the ship and he fears that the captain will be a liability if things go wrong. So, he must play political games on the ship. But he owes everything to Fred Johnson so he does his duty as best he can.

Another POV character is Annushka Volovodov, Anna. She’s a Methodist minister to a small congregation on Europa. She’s also married to a woman and they have a child. She’s asked to join Earth’s civilians in the journey to the Ring and after a short hesitation, she accepts. Through her we see a side of the population we haven’t seen before. She loathes violence and tries to prevent it when she can. She also wants to unite the different factions and show them that they have more in common than they think. Her wife and child travel to Earth and Anna misses them a lot.

The final POV is Clarissa Mao, Julia Mao’s sister. She wants to get revenge on Holden by first framing him for a monstrous act and then killing him. She’s very angry and obsessed with her revenge. She doesn’t have as much money as she had before but still enough to get herself a false identity as Melba Koh, a technician, on a ship which is part of the Earth fleet. Her body has been enhanced to a killing machine and so she can, briefly, take out several armed men, as we see in her first chapter. She does sometimes wonder if simply killing Holden is worth the awful things she does.

This story starts with introducing the people. Slowly it gathers momentum until it escalates to the end. None of the POV characters were as compelling to me as Bobbie and Avarasarala in the previous book. In fact, my favorite character was Tilly, Anna’s friend. This book also has quite frank discussion of Christian religion which will probably alienate some readers.

Politics are a huge part of the book, especially in the latter half. People are doing stupid things because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of other people, fear of what other people would do or will do, fear of losing face.

Personally, I would have loved it if this book would have explored the aliens and the places beyond the Ring but that didn’t happen here. It’s focused on humans and what they’re doing. Mostly squabbling and then shooting at each other.

“Violence is what people do when they run out of good ideas. It’s attractive because it’s simple, it’s direct, it’s almost always available as an option. When you can’t think of a good rebuttal for your opponent’s argument, you can always punch them in the face.”

“They’d made a plan, and so far everything was more or less going the way they’d hoped. The thought left Holden increasingly terrified.”