Lizard Brain is a shared blog about Science Fiction and Fantasy from Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.

Abaddon’s Gate Reviews

by Ty Franck

Publishers Weekly has the first big review of Abaddon’s Gate.  Seems like they liked it.

Daniel and I keep trying to do something new with each book in the series, and the hope is that this will keep the books from quickly growing stale.  But the fear is that by not doing the same thing you did last time, you can disappoint the fans of the earlier books.  We definitely went a new direction with at least some of what happens in Abaddon’s Gate, so it’s nice to hear that at least this reviewer didn’t think we went off the rails.

Now to keep from screwing that next one up . . .

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100 Responses »

  1. Well you’ve already got my money for this one so I’m stuck if it sucks. I feel like pointing out that it’s nice having relatable and recognizable humans in our intra-system sci-fi. Stories where “going out for sushi” is what people do to themselves really removes credibility and readability. I feel obligated to thank you for keepin’ it real after reading some strange stuff lately.

    • Lol that is so funny..I also read the anthology short story ‘ Girl Thing who went out For Sushi ‘ too ! And yep it was one of the dumber stories I have ever come across..

      • I feel obligated to point out that the author of that story is both a friend of ours, and one of the finer writers working in SF. So while we really appreciate the kind words, please avoid negative comments about other writers if you can. And I think that particular story is a hugo nominee this year, so it clearly has fans 🙂

        • Wow, been out of the loop for a lot longer than I thought. My apologies if my failed attempt at contrasting the stories and style has offended. I feel obligated to somehow get a personal apology out to that author, but fear that may cascade into further complications.

    • I was glumly preparing to post a thank-you message before finishing the last chapter of “Abaddon,” thinking it was the last in the series. I’m so relieved there’s another installment!

      Thanks so much for this series! I haven’t been this engrossed in a space-opera since re-reading Iain Banks’ “Consider Phlebas.”

      Are the pair of you planning to continue your partnership after the Expanse ends?

  2. Soo….there’s going to be a 4th one! I was sad that this would only be a 3 book series. If you 2 keep writing them, I’ll keep reading them….

  3. bring on the hard cover!

  4. I’ve been waiting for this one since I finished the last one the day after it was released. Some of the best sci-fi I’ve read in years. I said as much in my goodreads review. CAN. NOT. WAIT!

  5. I’m listening to Leviathan for the third time right now in preparation! This series is amazing, and thanks to the two of you I will read my first Star Wars novel in the near future…

  6. There will *be* a hardcover won’t there? A paperback is going to look pretty silly sitting along side the previous two hardcovers.

    • THe only hardcovers have been the book club editions. I imagine there’s a good chance there will be another one of those, but for non-bookclub folks, trade paperback is all they’ve been released as.

      • There absolutely HAS to be one in hardcover. Ive been waiting for it.

        • THe only hardback I’m aware of are the Book Club editions.

          • I have bought my first two books from but they do not have the third book so far. I do hope they add it otherwise (as somebody else mentioned) it will look pretty stupid to have two hardcover and a paperback next to each other. And I do love the bookclub editions. They are much better than the overlarged standard hardcovers. Smaller, thinner, better in the hand, better to read. I do hope a hardcover version will follow.

  7. I really enjoy this series and *love* the audiobook. Will it come out at the same time.

    Praying for more Avarasala. Best character ever.

    • Audiobook. I neeeeeeeed the audiobook.

      How long before it arrives on Audible or Emusic?

      • Yes, please let us know when the Audible version will come out. Audio is the only way I’m able to read now and I LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVE this series. Who do we need to harrass at the publishers to get this to happen? Can we petition now for books 4, 5 & 6 to be released on audio at the same time as the hardcovers & paperbacks hit the shelves?

        Thank you, guys, for your amazing stories. What fun & well-written books!

  8. Been looking forward to this one. So there is going to be a forth book in the series? If so, that’s fantastic news (unless this one ruins it, but I’m doubting that). Any plans for more short stories in the Expanse?

  9. Hi, Daniel and Ty –

    Just stopping by to say “Wow!” What amazing stories and characters in the “Expanse” books. And the writing is likewise top-notch. I’m a hard sell and a picky reader, and I love and widely recommend your books. I’ve already ordered Abaddon’s Gate, and will content myself with “The Butcher of Anderson Station” and “Gods of Risk” until it magically pops up on my Kindle next week.

    Thanks for going out of your way to create something really special.

  10. I’m almost done reading Leviathan’s Wake and I really, really like it. I bought the next two and am excited to start them as well. Just wanted to say “thanks” and offer encouragement. These are really fun and I’m glad you’re making them.

  11. What is the current prognosis for the audiobook? The first two are so spectacularly satisfying: perfect collaborative creations. I left begging requests on Amazon for Audible to make this happen, but no information has been available. I preordered the book, and will fall upon it instantly. But the audiobook versions are so deeply enjoyable I can’t imagine what the glaring absence is all about. Everyone loves them, and everyone is right. Some of us relish an excellent audiobook to all other forms of story-telling, and the fact that there isn’t one right now is a conspicuous absence. Do you need a campaign of citizens marching on Audible? If so, I’ll help.

    • We loved the first two as well. Jefferson Mays did a great job. My understanding is that Audible is doing Abaddon, but I don’t know any details.

    • It seems like it took about a month last summer after Caliban’s release for the audiobook to come out. Leviathan was closer to six months after the release. Here’s hoping the Abaddon audio comes out sooner, rather than later. I love this series, and audio is the only “reading” I do these days.

      (And here’s hoping The Tyrant’s Law is out in audio soon too!)

  12. Amen to the Audiobook. Who has time to lie there with/like
    paper? Audiobook all the way.

  13. Yeah,

    As much as I like reading a book, I am almost exclusively an Audio book guy. I’m a VFX artist, so I literally can spend 80+ hours a week in a chair at a desk plugging away. I haven’t had time to really just read a book in awhile, and when I do it drives me crazy because I’m a multi-tasker, and reading takes 100% of your attention. So anyway I absolutely loved the first two books, and recomend them to everyone I know. I have purchased the two novella’s via kindle, but haven’t had time to read them… I should probably make the time. 😉

    Anway, great stuff, really looking forward to listening to Abadon’s Gate, very few Sci-Fi books these days amount to more than political soap boxes in a sci-fi wrapper, these books feel more like firefly meets hard sci-fi, both intelligent and massively entertaining!

  14. I too am eagerly awaiting what I’m excited to now find out is the third in at least six of the series. An additional plus – I don’t have to order from the UK for this one since they are finally in sync for release in the US!

    I’m glad to hear it will not all be the same thing. Your talent with establishing and progressing the characters makes new directions in the plot exciting!

    I’ve been on a recommendation spree since the first book and I’m continuing to recommend the series everywhere I can. Since it really is “THAT good”, I want everyone to know!

  15. Excellent Sci-Fi. Just finished Leviathan Wakes and I have the biggest book hangover I have had in weeks.

    Keep up the good work.

  16. Hi everyone,

    Daniel, Ty – well done!

    I was lucky to spot a copy of ‘Abaddon’s Gate’ in Waterstones here in the UK this week and just finished reading it today. I can tell you, it will not disappoint Expanse fans and if anything it’s the best book of the series. I wont give away a damn thing here to anyone who hasn’t started it yet suffice to say you’re in for a great read. It really does get better.

    I eagerly await next years adventure and expect a TV mini series a la ‘Game of Thrones’ in the future. It’s do-able.


  17. Can I just ask, is Abaddon’s Gate the last book of this trilogy? The reason I ask is that I hate reading books where the series is not yet finished, I like to read the whole thing in one big go (did this recently with the Malazan books by Steven Erikson). You stated that you’re under contract for books 4, 5 and 6 so will this series be six books in total or will it rather be two trilogies? If it is two trilogies then I’ll start reading when Abaddon’s Gate is release, if not then I’ll hold out til all six books are available 🙂

    • It does tie up a bunch of the things from the first two books, and gives a sense of completion. The next three books follow on through some of the same characters and build on this. Either way — jumping now or waiting — I think you’re good.

  18. I finished Caloban’s War last week while on a road trip to Colorado. I’ll be in Albuquerque tomorrow to pick up Abbadon’s Gate to read on the trip home and was wondering if there are any signings or such events planned?

  19. Well done. Discovering Leviathan’s Wake was a delight and Caliban’s War was a great extension of the setting.

    Abaddon’s Gate has been a wonderful trip.

    As a Video Game Designer who has done lots of Sci Fi work over the years I know it’s hard to maintain a logical universe that feels real. You two have really done it here.


  20. Man, so glad I found this series. Not many co-authored books have hooked me, however; these are crack.

  21. I’ve been on an SF binge lately so I’ve got to say, this is the best science fiction series I’ve ever read.

    Like someone else said, keep writing them and I’ll keep buying them.

  22. Yours is the finest SF series of the new century. I’m very heartened that it will be continued. Your combined literary style is sheer perfection; the first two novels are heart-pounding and “unputdownable”. The love story between Holden and Naomi is particularly well done and heartwarming– and transcends all genre.

    From a technical point of view, a few problems crept into the third novel. One is that you introduced one too many POVs. This slowed the action of the book’s first half. I get that you’re a little bored with your MC, but you should have chosen between Clarissa and Anna. I also get the message of spiritual redemption, but it’s a bit heavy-handed; I do hope that the “spirit quest” to the stars doesn’t overly dominate the remainder of the series. Worst of all, however, is the utter political illogic of any ship immediately following the Rocinante into the Ring.

    These are flaws in what is otherwise a masterpiece. I take the liberty of pointing them out in the hope that they won’t become habits.

  23. I literally just finished reading Abaddon’s Gate, and I have to say that this series is without a doubt, one of the best I have ever read. Moving past the fantastic sci-fi, my friends and I have had a handful of debates over the philosophical, religious, and societal overtones that the book presents, particularly the Steinbeck (ish) way that Miller described the aliens’ demise.

    Very, very good read, and I sincerely hope that there will be a 2nd series.

  24. I just finished Leviathan Wakes. I am about halfway through Caliban’s War. This is as good a series as I have ever read. The characters are brilliant! I just wanted to say thanks. It is fun reading this series.

  25. I saw a blurb io9 mentioning Abaddon’s Gate and how awesome it was. Alas, it was third in a series and so I tracked down Leviathan Wakes. I sucked it down in about three days and Caliban’s War in another few days and I’m already halfway through Abaddon’s Gate. I haven’t been this excited by a book series in a long time. Thanks, guys, and keep it up!

  26. Just finished Abaddon’s Gate. Wow! Thoroughly enjoyed it! Another fine addition to one of my favorite series. Can’t wait for the next book.

  27. Are either of you familiar with the old GDW boardgame “Triplanetary”?

      • It was a near-future game of space travel and space combat. The map included everything out to Jupiter, and it had a very realistic vector movement system with acceleration/deceleration and a simple but effective system for planetary gravity effects. The vessels also fought using torpedoes and mass drivers. Out of print now, unfortunately.
        It was nice to see you guys make fairly realistic space combat exciting.

        • Dammit, now I want to play it.

          • Steve Jackson Games owns the rights, but despite rumors of a re-release for nearly ten years, nothing has happened. You might find one on ebay or BGG, but they’re rare. My friend treats his 1980 copy like a family heirloom.

            Oh, and I’m loving Caliban’s War so far. The last time I enjoyed a SF series this much was harry Turtledove’s World War: In the Balance, and that was some time ago. This is the kind of old-school space opera I grew up on.

  28. Guys,

    I just finished Abaddon’s Gate on Sunday. I very much enjoyed it! To my mind, Abaddon’s Gate fulfilled beautifully on the promises of the first two books while blowing things wide open for your next three.

    Your writing has matured across the series in sound, style, and selection of which stories to tell. I’m also quite impressed with how you’ve crafted a variety of “products” that flesh out this setting, providing stories in varying media and of varying lengths to suit characters and context.

    Recently, I read an interview in which Ty explained that The Expanse setting grew out of an RPG campaign. I *knew* it!! In terms of product suggestions, please consider my vote for an RPG setting manual. I don’t really care which system (if any), just so long as the book is well written, detailed, well-edited, and includes great diagrams and art 🙂

    Rooting for you on #4!

  29. I definitely liked not having to deal with ordering a UK ebook when I buy 99% of mine with my true (US) location. The book itself was awesome, too. +1 to the Baratheon brothers making a cameo (kinda).

  30. I’m so happy that there will be more books in this world. Bring back Bobbie! 😉

    As another poster mentioned, there is a very strong spiritual/religious stamp on this section of the series. The poster that brought it up didn’t “like” it, but I think it’s very appropriate. Realistic. I had just watched a Frontline video about the effects of 911 on people’s vision of God. It was eerily similar to the feelings in this book. Very well done.

    • We like to write about humans. And, like it or not, humanity includes the religious. Ignoring that aspect of the human condition wasn’t something we wanted to do.

      We’re not religious ourselves, but then we are also not botanists, marines, or Indian politicians.

  31. Dear Ty and Daniel:
    I want to copy something Vince said above. Your writing has matured across the series. What you have now is a great team effort, a particular painting of characters, a nascent focus on philosophy — and an honesty to physics rather than fantasy — that I like in sci-fi. I read the first two for escape. But was reluctant to buy the third. I read history and historical fiction, and science fiction. And struggle to find intelligent new work in all three genres. I had simply exhausted the selection at the finest English language bookstore here in Zurich. So I bought Abaddon’s Gates to fill time. All I had left was improbable historical fiction (female characters who do improbable things that no woman was allowed to do hundreds of years ago, or testosterone-laden sword and blood epics), and crappy improbable sci-fi that’s more fantasy than feasible. Abaddon’s Gate was a work of intelligence and humor that transcended the first two by miles. So I hope you keep it up.

  32. Waiting on pins and needles for the Audio book. I literally bought a Kindle to read the novelettes. Any word on a release date?

  33. I am waiting on the Audible version. I did get an email from Audible yesterday telling me that they had no information at this time on the audio book. I am in my car 4 to 8 hours a day, I only have time for the audio when I’m driving.

    Let us know when we can expect it!

    • I’m a road warrior as well, and in the same boat (so to speak). I’ll be looking forward to downloading the latest from Audible.

      Is the release date still 1 September?

  34. I enjoyed this installment as much as the last two which is to say a great deal :).

  35. Love the books and the short stories. Any word on maybe turning these great stories into movies soon?

  36. Just finished the AG, solid four stars for it or even 4.5. Will be waiting for the 4th book in the series and am going to buy it when it’s out.
    I liked the spiritual angle in the book, the way Anna feels it.
    I did not like so much the massive shooting page count in the second half of the book. I do realize many readers enjoy this kind of literature and I can tolerate it to some extent. Just a bit too much for me in there.
    Can’t wait for the 4th book anyway.

  37. Almost finished reading ‘Abaddon`s Gate’ – and looking with alarm at the diminishing pages !!!!
    After the slight disappointment of ‘ Caliban`s War ‘ – too much foul language for me, ‘ Abaddon`s Gate ‘ is right back to the power and enjoyment of ‘ Leviathan Wakes’. Fantastic pace, great storyline, and James Holden is a firmly cemented character, as indeed are all of the crew of the ‘ Rocinante ”
    Thanks heaps for a terrific read, and it`s great news that there is more to come, my only problem being we are in a surge of sci-fi just now, in books, film, tv series etc !!!! I only have so much money – ha !

  38. Loved it!! Not sure why people get their knickers in a knot over “foul” language… it wasn’t gratuitous. Chrisjen Avasarala is an amazing character and was extremely well voiced in the audio version. Can’t wait untill the audio for Abbadon’s Gate is released. The only time for books I get these days in during my commute to work.

    • I am not ‘ getting my knickers in a twist ‘ and you are incorrect in suggesting so. I simply pointed out, that for me, personally, I found the percentage of foul language in the second book,( as part of the character Avasarala ) to be more prevalent than either book 1 or 2, and for me, detracted from the enjoyment of the read.
      Believe it or not, we, the readers are entitled to an opinion, which may or may not differ from yours, and may or may not be the correct opinion to have.
      I respect your opinion, and at the end of the day, we are all enjoying the series so far, to a greater or lesser degree 🙂

  39. When is the 4th?

  40. Hi, am trying to track down some HC in
    America and get them shipped to the UK
    Can i post them to you guys and get them
    Signed? Would you forward them ti me? They
    Would be for a gift…know im being cheeky but i
    If any chance please email me. Thank you 🙂

  41. I picked up Abbadon’s Gate on a whim and took it on a trip with me. Shortly thereafter, much to my chagrin, I realized it was part of a series and not the first. The book was so well written, familiarity of the previous 2 books were not necessary. In fact, within a few hours I found myself hook line and sinker! It was near the end I realized to my dismay I had a misprint and a binding section was missing during a critical time involving an ‘engineering’ situation lets just say. A quick grab of the kindle and I was able to continue my new found addiction. The kindle gave me this web address and hence this blog. Excellent book indeed!

  42. Page 474 begins chapter 47 and then jumps to page 507 where page 475 should be. The misprint is no issue at all. I seemed to be a magnet for these. It will go on the shelf next to my JRR Tolkien Silmarillion misprint. In that particular one, someone didn’t change the production line out correctly and it transitions directly to a Danielle Steel novel for 60 or so pages.

    As said, no issue at all.

  43. Just finished Abaddon’s Gate, did the audio version of all three books. This is the best series I have “read” in years. Kudos to the authors, who have done a marvelous job of writing compelling sci fi with real characters and flawed heroes. I know wherever Jim Holden goes, he will create some catastrophe while remaining moral, honest and reliable. I’m hoping that there will be more sequels to follow.

  44. You’ve hooked me with the first two. I’ve never liked realist scifi before this. And when I say that, I really mean science fiction with physics. My feelings on this are as follows; I get enough reality in my job to fill multiple books, I don’t want it in my leisure reading…but damn if I don’t love these books. I actually read the first two multiple times while I was waiting for the third to come out, and I’m reading that one slowly, savoring every word. While I love the third, I have to say, I’m REALLY missing Bobbie and Avasarala. We don’t lose any characters between the first and second books, we just get more, however we lose those two viewpoints with barely a mention between the second and third. While I have enjoyed Anna, Bull, and Clarissa, none of them have come close to the character that Bobbi and Avasarala had. I’m really hoping that we see more of them in the last three books because they were SO GOOD. I am hoping that I end up loving these new characters as much as I loved those two before the end (I’m half way through), because at this point I honestly could just go the entire book from the perspective of Holden’s crew and be happy without the rest. Still, it’s a fantastic book, and I can’t read it slowly enough (gotta savor every chapter). I can’t wait for the next book. I’m sure I will read the first three multiple times while I wait for the fourth.

  45. Gents…is it odd to say “thank you” to authors for a book series? If so, let the oddness ensue! So many books I’ve read recently feature rehashed plots, terrible pacing, and cardboard characters. Your series has avoided all of the above, and I cannot wait for the next editions! Oddly enough, my 12 year old and I were in the local mega bookstore in August, when he said “I’ll pick a random book, and you have to read it…deal?” I accepted his challenge, and he picked the biggest nearby book he could find…”Leviathan Wakes”. I took it on vacation and read it, even having to meticulously deal with it’s swollen, wet pages after it fell out if a boat into a lake! Needless to say…I am hooked, and have given separate copies of the trilogy to two friends.

    So….thank you for the stories, thank you for the escapism, thank you for your talent, and thank you for all you have in store for these great and believable characters you’ve gifted us!

    Peace & cheers!
    Dave B

  46. I am a late reader of books and my attention was focused on sci-fi. Having read so many books without feeling I was able to understand the plot and also believe it could actually happen in the future. Having put down my second Ian Banks sci-fi novel without finishing. I came across Leviathan Wakes and it blew me away. Fabulous story that stays with you. Read the second book with the same enthusiasm. Now half way through Abaddons Gate. I don’t want it to end. Please keep it going till I die.
    I too love Bobby and Avasarala. Holden is believable and so is the crew.
    Take them all on a trip to an unknown planet to find something beyond imagination.
    When do we get a film.


  47. I really enjoyed the first two books of this series. The third, not so much. I was very disappointed to see religion portrayed as something benign. In the epilogue, you have this line: She felt that politics was the second most evil thing humanity had ever invented, just after lutefisk. Sorry, but the most evil thing man has ever invented is religion. Just ask all the dead that people who call themselves Christians have murdered. Just listen to the hate that spews daily from televangelists. And no, I am not interested in hearing about the good religion does. Serving up free soup will not revive the dead from two-continents wide genocide.
    My dream is that someday, humanity will leave its superstitions behind and embrace reality. I read and enjoy SF mostly because it portrays such a world. Yes, there will always be evil, but when it is institutionalized, as with religion, the horror it creates is astronomic.

    • Let me start by saying that neither Daniel nor I are religious.

      But the fact is that humanity includes people who are, and we both found it interesting to explore how different sorts of religious belief react to the concepts we were dealing with in the book. If that isn’t something that interests you, then that’s perfectly valid. But while we, the writers, are not religious, we are also not space ship captains, politicians, cops, martians, or space marines. And we enjoyed exploring those character’s worlds as well.

      And I’ll disagree with you on one point. Religion as a concept is not the most evil thing we’ve come up with. The idea of “the other” is. Sometimes religion is used to validate setting aside other groups as lesser than us. But money, politics, and skin color are all used to justify the same kinds of evil acts.

      I don’t want my personal dislike of religion to turn me into the kind of person who can no longer have a dialog with people who disagree with me. As always, your mileage may vary on that.

  48. Franck, I enjoy the excellent discussion on these posts. I have this link saved and visit it every so often. Concerning religion, I enjoyed how it is included. My personal feelings are that one cannot honestly remove it from future. To do so would be unrealistic. In a setting placed in the future the true interest in religion as a whole is not the average person but the 1% that is a fanatic. It is a tiny portion that seems to have the ability to drive the remainder. Not sure if I type fast or perhaps slower than I think as it took a full beer to post this. Perhaps it is a function of relativity and no matter how quick it happened it was going to be a full beer subjectively. Whoa, there’s a deep thought. Excited to see more!

  49. I live in England so everything we get from the states is usually about six months to a year later.

    I am currently about halfway through abaddons Gate, and I am trying to read it slowly as I do not want to wait too long for cibola burns.
    This however is proving impossible , as its such a fascinating series.

    I really like the concept of introducing new characters in each book, but also keeping the characters of Holden and his crew as a constant that effects and is affected by these new characters. Very clever structuring that.

    It takes real writing talent to bring new characters to life, and these authors give the right amount of page time to bring these characters to life and make the reader care about them.
    Some authors can get to involved and technical with there sci/fi novels sometimes, and ultimately the story can get smothered and the reader distracted.
    Not so with the expanse, its easy to read ,with the classic “whats gonna happen next” feel to it, but it also has a very complex and compelling storyline which seems to be constantly evolving.

    I haven’t looked forward to reading a sci/fi series so much since I read the deaths head trilogy by David Gunn.

  50. Why were they able to shoot _____ after _________ took the ship? Nothing can move faster than a thrown grenade!

  51. Just wanted to stop by and say thank you. Had a conversation with a friend today about how, after reading this series, I now have expectations for every other author to “get me.” 🙂 Just — thanks for creating something I can love!