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The Expanse #1

Leviathan Wakes

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Humanity has colonized the solar system—Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond—but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for—and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations—and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

592 pages, Paperback

First published June 2, 2011

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,191 reviews
Profile Image for Joel.
556 reviews1,666 followers
September 16, 2011
I complained in my review of Chasm City that the gee-whiz mechanics of space opera can't really sustain a 600-page narrative. It turns out I was perhaps incorrect: most of the lengthy examples I've sampled in the sub-genre (Alastair Reynolds, Iain M. Banks) are of the "dark and gritty" variety, grim, nihilistic visions of the future starring amoral asshole protagonists who are impossible to sympathize with. Even with a bunch of cool ideas on display, spending 700 pages in these books is exhausting. Inevitably, I like them for about 400 pages and then I just... get tired.

But this book... this is the space opera I want to read. This book has the spirit of the genre's early days, characters who still marvel at the impossible immensity of the stars, but it isn't a pastiche or a throwback -- it's a natural evolution, and a remarkably satisfying one. The closest analogue I can think of is the oft-overpraised television show Firefly. Say what you will about the annoyingly zealous fanbase (or don't, you don't need the hate email); that show really did almost everything right in translating space opera to the modern age. The characters are complex, they operate in a world that is more grey than black & white, but each also has a clear moral center, so we know why they do the things they do, even when they are terrible things. You can make space opera (or epic fantasy or whatever) that is "dark" and "gritty" and still fun to read, with characters that are fun to read about. Because why would you want to explore the stars with assholes?

I'm having some trouble locking the tractor beam on my point here, but it basically comes down to this: if you want me to invest in your lengthy space epic, you better give me something more to care about than magic space technology macguffin crap, because I will get sick of that. This book gave me cool ideas and everything else: archetypal characters that nevertheless manage to be compelling and sympathetic, interesting and very well thought out politics and economics, constant narrative momentum without sacrificing character... It's the most fun I've had reading sci-fi in a long time.

I should have expected nothing less of Daniel Abraham, who is one-half of the pseudonymous James S.A. Corey; earlier this year, I gushed about the way he was able to do basically all the same stuff within the confines of the epic fantasy genre. And there is so much to like about the premise, just on the face of it: it's a few hundred years from now. Humanity has colonized Mars and invented an engine that allows fairly speedy travel, to a point. Our solar system has been colonized, with outposts on the moons of Saturn and spread across the asteroid belts, but we've gone no further because, come on, space is freaking huge and what are the chances we're going to invent warp drive and quickly stumble across the other needles in the galactic haystack? Besides, we've got enough to keep ourselves busy: colonizing space hasn't exactly united humanity, and Earth, Mars and the Outer Planets Alliance operate under an uneasy truce, with heavy prejudices on all sides.

This stuff is very well thought out. People in the outer planets have lived for generations free from the constraints of heavy gravity, and have started to differ physically from Earthers. Language and culture have shifted too. This makes racism easier. Meanwhile the sheer logistical challenges of sustaining life on dead rocks (from mining interstellar ice to diets of food manufactured from algae) mean the "Belters" are still beholden to their terrestrial cousins.

The plot is a potboiler, effectively combining space action with a noir murder mystery (the two storylines intertwined in chapters that alternate between two POV characters). The characters are, like I said, broad types in some ways, but you can do broad types very well; a stock character can still be well rounded and compelling. This book manages to star both a world-weary detective and an idealistic space captain (with a smart-mouthed love interest and some wise-cracking ship's crew in the background) and not feel like a retread, to give the characters tough moral choices (and sometimes they make the wrong ones), without turning them into unrepentant sociopaths. It goes back to what I was saying many, many paragraphs ago about honoring conventions while expanding upon them.

I don't know if I am communicating this very well, but this book is all of that and also just impossible to stop reading. It's also funny without trying too hard, and thoughtful without being overly constructed or preachy. It's the book I have been looking for every time I picked up a space epic. I just didn't know until I found it.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
551 reviews60.5k followers
August 24, 2020
(2.5) Need to watch the tv show because damn, I'm disappointed.

The moon itself - Phoebe - filled the frame, turning slowly to show all sides like a prostitute at a cheap brothel.

"But you did this for what?.."
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 46 books128k followers
November 29, 2011
I've been gorking out on Urban Fantasy and Romance lately, so mixing it with a FANTASTIC Space Opera was JUST what I needed!

I loved this book because in a lot of ways it humanized a BIG SF world in a way that is normally tough. I cared about the characters, I yelled at them a lot, and I enjoyed every minute! It felt modern and current, and created a really believable world that I wanted to live in and learn about. The politics of Earth vs Mars vs the Fringers, the mystery and vaguely noir-ish subplot...really REALLY good. I recommend to anyone who enjoys Sci-Fi!

And I guess it's part of a future trilogy? Yum!

Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,972 followers
February 10, 2017
I got nobody to blame but myself for this….

I’ve had a long-standing policy that I will not read an unfinished sci-fi/fantasy series because I spent over a decade waiting for a certain master of horror to get off his ass and finish what he started. Plus, I have no urge to join the ranks of fans of other fantasy writers who seem to spend more time coming up with excuses and side projects rather than producing new books to finish their on-going series.

Ignorance isn’t a good defense, but it’s all I can claim. I picked this up on a whim after hearing it mentioned on the Incomparable podcast. I was a little leery when I saw it was almost 600 pages, but I didn’t bother looking into exactly what I had gotten myself into until I started the book That’s when I freaked the hell out:

“9 novels?!? 9 goddamn novels and they’re all this long? Holy shit! Only 5 have been released? It’s an unfinished series?? IT’S AN UNFINISHED SERIES! Oh, sweet jebus what have I done? And holy shit snacks they’ve been releasing off-shoot novels! ARGGHHH!! This is a nightmare…. OK, calm down. Let’s see, there’s actually two guys writing it under one pen name. Two guys can keep each other focused and moving forward. They’ve been releasing books like clockwork and have a schedule to bring it home. That’s good news. And these off-shoots are Kindle shorts so it looks like they’re really just true extras and not them filling their pockets while dawdling on the main series. Oh, and the Syfy network is doing a TV series based on it? That could be cool. Maybe this isn’t so bad after all. Wait, one of the authors also works as an assistant to….Uh oh. Well, maybe he’s learned what NOT to do when you’re working on a series…Or maybe I‘ll end up not liking it very much and can just stop here.”

No such luck. Damn it. I’m a sucker for the kind of sci-fi where even though they’re in space the characters have dirt under their nails and skinned knuckles rather than lounging around in pristine uniforms on ships that look like corporate cube farms. I’m also much more of a believer in the idea that if humanity does make it to other worlds that we’ll be dragging all our collective baggage out there with us rather than being explorers from a utopian society. Plus, I’m a big mystery fan and one of the main characters is a burned out space detective with a cynical outlook. And I also like Oh, yeah. I’m in.

I particularly liked the push/pull between the two main characters. Holden is an idealist who thinks that people will make good collective choices as long as they’re told the truth, and that contrasts well with Miller’s bleak outlook that people are stupid sheep. Put those two guys in a society built out among our solar system’s asteroid belt that is about to go to war with Earth and Mars as they try to unravel the conspiracy behind it, and you’ve got yourself a pretty damn compelling sci-fi story.

I still kinda feel like a rube though….

Update 2/7/17 - You can tell from the original review I posted that I had a lot of misgivings about starting an unfinished series back when I first read this. A few years later after re-reading it I'm happy to report that it all worked out for the best. The authors have stuck to their schedule and delivered a book a year since they started, and the entires series has become one of my favorite sci-fi things ever. I also got a bonus in a pretty damn good TV series based on the show since then which just started it's second season. So this gamble has paid off pretty well so far.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
805 reviews3,853 followers
November 27, 2022
Certainly one of the best space operas ever written

Predestined to be made a major TV series
This is something special for the sci fi genre, because it´s one of the first big, new sci fi worlds that got transformed into a magnificent TV series. There are so many other jewels waiting to be adapted, in the best case with enough time to put all the details from the books into the series. It reminds me of Game of Thrones too, where there are these two worlds of the books and the series with their own fandoms, fan wars, and all the beef, and the books are always much better, thank you!

Together they rise
I don´t know if one author alone would have produced something of this complexity and scale. This just has everything, escalating, different points of view with known and new characters, actual effects of happenings from prior parts of the series, cliffhanger over cliffhanger, great character design, piles of Sci-Fi elements, a uniting element that gets more and more complex over the time, etc.

Create more of this stuff, the books are all already there for decades!
Now, thanks to enough computational power, maybe soon all my beloved Sci-Fi series may come alive on the screen, walking in the green footprints of Titans like Babylon 5, Star Trek, and Dr. Who, making the 21 first century the age of the ultimate Sci-Fi nerdgasm.

Think about amazon whatever you want, but praise the founders' decision
Thank you so much, Jeff Bezos, for both saving this series and stealing my lifetime with incentives to buy too much useless stuff and wasting my time binge-watching a sci fi series. Bezos has a huge interest in asteroid mining and beliefs that it´s more important to first build a full production line than to bring all equipment from earth, which I deem the best approach too. Loud boos for Mars and planetary colonialization, that´s the second step after industrialized production. And yes, I know, there is much justified criticism of amazon, but that isn´t a topic in this review (that shouldn´t be deleted from a social cataloging site belonging to amazon), so instead something unrealistically positive as a distraction.

Maybe capitalism one day turns out not to be that bad in hindsight
Because, who knows, maybe we wouldn´t have timely built enough space bases without our classic evil, capitalistic system. And were thereby gone the way of the dodo bird instead in the case of future catastrophes and cataclysmic events. Imagine no species would have brought this human madness into space, that would have been a loss for, ahem, well just for us and a win for any other sentient, peaceful species, because I simply love to compare us with any kind of evil Sci-Fi empire.

The future in space might be a repeat of world history
And I mean, we wouldn´t start colonizing and exploiting other worlds again or go to war with an alien species who is interested in resources too or something. Again again. Or at least, this time not against our own species and that´s something close to a socioevolutionary progress. Just kill aliens, not humans.

Tropes show how literature is conceived and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46k followers
March 22, 2020
Leviathan Wakes was so good; a character-driven space-opera that combines sci-fi, noir, mystery, and a slice of horror into one.

I’ve watched only the first season and a few episodes of the second season, but it was enough to make me want to read all the available books in the series first before continuing with the TV series again. Seriously, amazing movies/TV adaptations boost book sales exponentially more than anything else in the world, and I do believe that The Expanse by James S. A. Corey has received this benefit. Here’s one proof, below is a picture of my collection of the series which I bought just because of what I’ve watched so far.

Isn’t it gorgeous? Can we also give standing applause to James S. A. Corey for the name of each respective book title of this series? It’s hands down some of the coolest book titles I’ve come across so far.

Leviathan Wakes is the first installment in The Expanse nine-book series by James S. A. Corey; a duo comprised of Daniel Abraham—the author of The Long Price Quartet and The Dagger and the Coin series—and Ty Franck. Both Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck are authors who have worked closely with George R. R. Martin, and I think the writing is slightly reminiscent of Martin’s writing style.

The story in Leviathan Wakes follows two different main characters, Jim Holden and Detective Miller. When Jim and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in a possession of a dangerous secret. Meanwhile, Miller is looking for a girl in a system of billions, and it eventually leads to the Scopuli as well. The story starts slow and interesting enough for both storylines but once their story intertwines, I was completely hooked. Due to having watched the majority of the plotline in the first book, I have to admit that there weren’t a lot of surprises left for me here. However, I’m surprised that the badass lady Avasarala—my favorite character in the TV show so far—didn’t even appear at all in Leviathan Wakes, not even mentioned. Also, Amos in the TV show and in the book felt like a completely different person! But here’s the thing, despite knowing the storylines already, I still have a wonderful time reading this book. I’ve been craving for a character-driven space-opera series to read for a while now, and Leviathan Wakes fits the bill.

“The massive radiation exposure had failed to give him superpowers.”

The characterizations and the banter between Holden and Miller are, in my opinion, the two main driving strength of the narrative. Seeing the chemistry—similarities and contrasts included—between the two characters was incredibly engaging. As Corey has mentioned, Holden and Miller have an opposite view in the way information should be spread out. Holden, as an idealist, believes that all information should be given to everyone. Miller, on the other hand, is a nihilist that believes information must be controlled carefully. I think the cooperation and the clash between these two main characters made the plot progression so much more engaging than I expected. I loved both storylines and internalizations; although Miller's story took a while for me to get into, I ended up feeling invested in his journey as much as I did for Holden’s ever since their story intertwines with each other. Corey’s characterization for Holden and Miller was so spot-on, and I feel that their personality excels more in the book than the TV adaptation; the nuances in their characterizations were unfound on the TV show.

“First off, get your shit together. Panic doesn’t help. It never helps. Deep breaths, figure this out, make the right moves. Fear is the mind-killer. Ha. Geek.”

There are disadvantages that came from having watched the TV series first, though; the intriguing aspect of the mystery was lost on me. However, there are also advantages. I did have some difficulty imagining some scenes and settings through the text provided, and fortunately, my beforehand experience with the TV show was able to conjure the visual imagery wanted. Do note, though, that out of my favorite genres—fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction—I personally have more trouble with visualizing when I’m reading sci-fi compared to the other two.

Leviathan Wakes is a great start to a big sci-fi series which I’m hoping I’ll enjoy more and more as I progress through it. Despite the large backdrops and settings, I loved how Corey prioritized the characters and their actions, more than anything else, to take the central stage. For now, I plan to make my way through each book in the series monthly. I’m hoping that the final book of the series will, at least, have an official publication date by the time I caught up.

You can order the book from: Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Devin, Hamad, Joie, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,678 reviews5,253 followers
September 25, 2011
EH? EH! this so-called space opera is anything but. no sense of wonder, no sense of truly divergent civilizations, no galactic span. and a clear lack of operatic emotions on display as well. perhaps this is due to the characterization, which is rote, uninteresting, and badly developed, with sub-par Firefly-style dialogue along for the ride. perhaps it is also due to the subject matter, which is confined to purely in-system politics between Earth and Mars (the two reigning superpowers) and the asteroid colonies (plucky upstarts, proletariat underdogs, and possible terrorists)... the scope here just seems so EH WHO CARES. there is a nuts-and-bolts approach to the technology that has a glimmer of hard science to it, but this is not a hard science fiction novel by far. overall, it is not terribly written per se - it just is the very definition of flat and uninspiring. maybe i've been too spoiled by the likes of Iain M. Banks, Vernor Vinge, Peter Hamilton, and now Alastair Reynolds; i am unable to be impressed by something that is so lacking in genuine excitement or genuinely complex world-building. there was nothing at stake for me and my mind was definitely not blown. each time i re-opened this novel, it was like buying a first class ticket to snoozeville. in the end, i gave up on page 162 - and i want those hours back!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
January 7, 2020
”Way I see it, there’s three ways this can go,” Miller said. “One, we find your ship still in dock, get the meds we need, and maybe we live. Two, we try to get to the ship, and along the way we run into a bunch of mafia thugs. Die gloriously in a hail of bullets. Three, we sit here and leak out of our eyes and assholes.”

 photo Expanse_zpssyq7ej9z.jpg

Well, really, the story begins when some alien species shoot a payload of virus at Earth and misses. This virus is capable of turning the human race into piles of nasty, smelly biosolids. Luckily for Earth, this contagion from space gets caught in Saturn’s rings which keeps it from ever reaching its intended destination.

Holden is the second in command of an iceberg hauler. When he sees his ship Canterbury blown into dust particles by pirates, while the ship was trying to respond to an SOS, his world is suddenly expanded and contracted. Expanded by the beginning of a conflict that will spread across the known universe, but his world has also contracted down to the confining corridors of the small ship that he and his remaining crew members are trying to keep afloat.

The universal conflict might be more than a little bit Holden’s fault. He broadcasts out to the world the existence of incriminating evidence that Mars might have had something to do with the pirates. The writers behind the name James S. A. Corey might be making a point about the misuse of disseminating wrong information on the internet. How many people believe it even when it doesn’t make sense?

This section of the universe is shared between Earth, Mars, and what are called the Belters. Belters are people born in the asteroid belt. The Belters are generally taller, fitter, and tend to bastardize language much the same way as immigrants to America bastardized English. I kind of think of Holden as Gavrilo Princip, the man that touched off WW1 by assassinating Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Holden meant well; to him information is meant to be shared so that it can be analyzed and expounded upon. People unfortunately jump to conclusions without examining the evidence too closely, especially when the potential for war has been brewing for some time. The major powers in the universe are just looking for the right catalyst to start a war. Holden, inadvertently, provided the match.

”The moral complexity of the situation had grown past his ability to process it.”

So there is some lethal goo out there trapped in the rings of Saturn. Knowing humans to be the “curious monkeys” that they are... what do you think happens next? Yeah, they just can’t help poking a stick at it.

Things go from bad to worse in a hurry.

Vomit zombies...need I say more?

Okay, maybe just a bit more because there are more stages to this thing.

”A flock of softball-sized spiderlike things crawled through the corridor, leaving a slick sheen of glowing slime behind them. It wasn’t until he paused to knock one off the cart that he recognized them as severed hands, the trailing wrist bones charred black and remade. Part of his mind was screaming, but it was a distant one and easy to ignore.”


As a counterweight to Holden is the cop Miller. He sees the world through rose murky colored glasses. He has seen the worst of people, so he doesn’t need to speculate about what people are capable of. He is on the case of a missing rich girl, and even after he is fired from his job, he continues to hunt for her. It turns out she is connected with the OPA, a Belter resistance group, and also she is somehow mixed up with the goo from space.

Miller hooks up with Holden and his crew, but it is an uneasy alliance. Holden’s righteousness and Miller’s cynicism mix like oil and water, but actually with the universe hanging in the balance their differing views create a middle which is generally where the right answers can be found.

So pull up a bowl of fungal curds and a cup of something that tastes close to coffee and have a blast watching the crew of the Rocinante cartwheel across the universe barely surviving one disaster after another as they do everything they can to stay alive and save the world.

The SyFy Channel has just launched a new series called Expanse that is based on the universe created by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck in this series of books. I haven’t watched the episodes yet because I really wanted to read the first book before watching any part of the TV series. If I have a complaint about the book, it is that it does feel a bit bloated, but the fact that it is unapologetically calling itself a space opera I feel kind of snarky even broaching the subject. The world building is fascinating, and from what I have read, the books will continue to add pieces to this world as the book series progresses. I have plans to read at least two more.

One last little tidbit from Miller which I found rather funny as I’m holding this 16 pound trade paperback novel in my hands: ”The OPA man, Anderson Dawes, was sitting on a cloth folding chair outside Miller’s hole, reading a book. It was a real book--onionskin pages bound in what might have been actual leather. Miller had seen pictures of them before; the idea of that much weight for a single megabyte of data struck him as decadent.”

I just blew you a raspberry Miller.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews984 followers
August 23, 2023
The Expanse - 1: (reread after just 28 months!) I sill don't even know where to begin with this planets' spanning space opera set in a deeply detailed future, multiple location reality where man is split into three co-dependant but opposing civilisations; there's Earth, Luna and the inner planets between Earth and the Sun; there's Mars, its colonies and numerous outposts; and between these powerhouses are the space resident Belters who live, and more so work all over the Asteroid belt, on some of the asteroids, space stations and even ships!

This volume is set mostly in Belter space. Miller is a grizzled old-timer Belter detective who is handed a semi-off the books case to retrieve a very important Earth-man's daughter. Earth-man Jim Holden, Belter Naomi, Martian Alex and Earth-man Amos are working in the Belt when an act of gross piracy, leaves them marooned together in space and wanted or suspected by all three civilisations. Ensuing events sees them get caught in a cycle of space and space base violence, taking them and us readers into a galaxy-wide conspiracy thriller, where no-one really knows what's going on; Jim and his crew are bizarrely at the centre of it all, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time... erm, time and time again!

This book ticks many boxes. A future with very diverse multicultural populations. An iconic spaceship. This book ticks many boxes. A future with very diverse multicultural populations. An iconic spaceship. A detective with a hat, that likes a drink. A class of almost disposable people who do the key work in the Belt, the Belters. An understanding that corporations would be as powerful as galactic coalitions in the future. A complex, compelling and pretty innovative conspiracy. Space battles! Space stations! Low-key descriptive passages. Almost zero conventional romantic sub-plot (very sub-plot, thank God!). Great dialogue. Easy to read and accessible not-too long chapters' format.

As with all great sci-fi, the nature, characteristics, history, science etc of this book, set mostly in the Asteroid Belt is only revealed through the lives of our protagonists. The story is told almost entirely from the perspectives of Detective Miller and Captain Jim Holden. What lifts this book up to great reading status is the multi-faceted and compelling conspiracy thriller that runs through it, a conspiracy that may run through the entire Solar System... . In a few words, this is a truly compelling and far-reaching space-opera that manages to be entirely action and adventure led, yet remains solidly a sci-fi epic! The only negative for me, was that I happened to watch the TV show first (which I love, so bought these books), which I felt may have detracted me, from just how good this book is/was for me? 9 out of 12. A stonking Four Star read!, so much so that I felt that 650+ pages wasn't enough, and have now read it again 28 months later!

2023 and 2021 read
Profile Image for Daniel B..
Author 3 books32.5k followers
February 28, 2020
Scifi is meant to awe its readers while expanding their minds. Leviathan Wakes accomplished both while also incorporating many elements from other genres almost entirely successfully. I am beginning to believe more and more due to stories like this that the best days of scifi are not dead. Yes, Asimov is no longer crafting his nearly perfect stories, but the genre itself continues to grow and experiment. That kind of experimentation has given us this scifi epic and I am extremely happy to experience this story.

Full Review Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_Hsf...
Profile Image for Anne.
4,060 reviews69.5k followers
September 6, 2023
4.5 stars
Five members of the Canterbury's crew leave to respond to a distress signal on the transport vessel, Scopulia. It's abandoned when they get there but before they can get back to their ship they are witness to the attack and destruction of the ice hauler by an unknown ship.
After a bit of Scooby-Dooing, they realize that the distress signal was Martian. Jim Holden is the officer in charge and he makes the fateful decision to broadcast that information across the universe, setting cataclysmic events in motion that will affect the people of Earth, Mars, & the Belt.


Meanwhile, Joe Miller works for a private security that provides a sort of police force at Cerces Station (on the asteroid belt) and is volunteered by his boss to track down Julie Mao, the missing daughter of a wealthy tycoon. She has disowned her family and was working for a group of rebels known as the OPA, but has recently disappeared. As Miller learns more about her, he develops feelings for this young woman who gave up everything to fight for the rights of Belters.
She becomes almost an alter ego in his mind that speaks to him and drives him to keep searching for her even after he has been ordered to let her case go.


And that's just the bare basics of the story.
This is a fully realized sci-fi world with layers upon layers of complex plotlines and rich characters. I had a feeling when I was done that I just scratched the surface of James Corey's tale, and I am looking forward to listening to Jefferson Mays narrate the rest of the books for me.


If you dig sci-fi, you'll dig this.
And if you liked The Expanse television show, you should check out the amazing books that spawned the series.
Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews927 followers
April 14, 2022
“What kind of half-assed apocalypse are they running down there?” Amos said. “Give ’em a break. It’s their first.”

James S A Corey,

I enjoyed the story and the world (Mars, the asteroid belt between Earth and Mars, Earth, various mining stations) depicted in Leviathan Wakes. The setting and overall atmosphere of this near-future thriller has a noir feel to it (which becomes more evident with the appearance of Detective Miller and his investigation into the missing Julia Mao). At times, you feel like you're reading a pulp crime detective novel in the spirit of Raymond Chandler, but Leviathan Wakes does more than answer questions about who done it (although who and what things happen become part of the ongoing drive of the plot). As in so much of really good science fiction, the question of what it means to be human and the moral implications of asking and acting on assumptions of that question are explored. Nothing seems forced, though. It just seems to happen in the natural progression of the story. The characters are what makes this a strong read, though. None of them are either totally good or bad or think in black and white. 4.25 stars


Met James S.A. Corey (Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) at a GenCon writers' event. Fun to meet them and chat about their books for a minute or two!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,990 followers
January 21, 2020
Welcome to 2020! My first book finished this year (kind of cheating since I started it in 2019)

This book is very epic . . . and it is only the beginning.

Leviathan Wakes is book one of The Expanse series. I have seen it described as a space opera. I was not quite sure the definition of space opera - although I have seen it used many times and even read a book with that title. So, I decided to use the ol' Google machine on my internet device and this is what I came up with:

From Oxford:


informal North American

A novel, film, or television programme set in outer space, typically of a simplistic and melodramatic nature."

This definion is sort of what I was thinking, but I am a bit surprised that it has kind of a negative connotation. So, while it is a novel and series set in space and it is a bit melodramatic, I would not call it a space opera in the negative! It is far from simplistic, with complex relationships and intricate storylines. Overall, a very positive experience.

My only concern with it was that it was a bit long, dragged on at points, and some plot points took longer than I wanted to beginning fleshing out. I am glad I read this one on audio, because I think it may have been difficult to stay interested if it was a physical copy. Now that I am into it, however, I am looking forward to what comes next.

So far, this seems like a book and series that any and every sci-fi fan should try.
Profile Image for Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ .
1,261 reviews8,753 followers
March 29, 2018
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

Here's another Jessica quirk: I LOVE sci-fi on screen, but I rarely like reading it. I have no idea why. Some things just are.

BUT. I binge-watched The Expanse last week, and it was good enough that it made me curious. There were no giant-insects-as-aliens, no surplus of tech gobbledygook, and no discernible artificial intelligence (the things that make me avoid sci-fi literature, even though I can usually handle the movie version), and what there was was mysteriously mysterious, plus, you know, SPACE, so pretty great, IMO.

The story revolves around two male MCs, Jim Holden, the XO of the ice-hauling freighter Canterbury, and Joe Miller, a washed-up, "prototypical Noir dectective" (description stolen from Mike , b/c it's darn near perfect, and I didn't want to bother coming up with my own lesser version).

Holden is a thirty-ish bright-eyed idealist whose naivete borders on unbelievable, given his dishonorable discharge from the UN Navy (for punching a superior officer who needed to be punched, if I remember correctly) amongst other things. He's also rather immature about relationships, convincing himself that he's in love with every female he lusts after. His actions would've been more consistent with someone ten years younger, but then he wouldn't have the experience to land his XO gig, so what are you going to do?

Miller . . . is a hot tepid mess. He's in his mid-fifties, divorced in what feels like the recent past, but in reality is probably going on a decade ago, and unable to move on. He's a drunk. He moves through life in a contradictory haze of apathy and regret. Then, when he's forced to face a personal truth that he's thus far insulated himself from, he latches on to his last assignment: a retrieval job for the rich parents of a young woman who has turned her back on her upbringing to champion the Belters, the dregs and underdogs of her world.

During his detecting, Miller becomes infatuated with the Earthen-turned-Belter freedom fighter. He's obsessed with finding her, convincing himself that if he can save Juliette Andromeda Mao, all of life's disappointments and failures will be worth it.

It's another stretch, or at least it was for me, but I'm inexperienced in all things Noir, so maybe that's my ignorance talking.

Regardless, both Holden's idealism and Miller's transference were stretches that I was willing and able to accommodate, in part b/c of the character growth both MCs went through from start to finish.

At first, I straight-up didn't like Holden. I thought he was an idiot, who recklessly made decisions that had consequences he couldn't begin to understand, and a manwhore who justified his manwhoring by believing his was in lurrrrve. Every, single time. *rolls eyes*

But just as I was about to write him off, someone schooled him about a little thing called REALITY, and that in conjunction with several other hard-earned lessons he eventually took to heart, he turned into someone I could admire. He was no longer an unrealistic dreamer, he was an uncorruptible man who stood by the principles that guided every aspect of his life.

Miller . . . damn near broke my heart.

The only other thing I'll say about him is that

Something readers coming to LEVIATHAN WAKES post-Syfy series should know is that Chrisjen Avasarala doesn't show up until book 2, CALIBAN'S WAR. The absence of any female POVs makes this a very male-driven story, but I've been assured that problem (if you see that as a problem) is resolved in the later installments. CALIBAN'S WAR introduces not only Chrisjen Avasarala, but also a "space Brienne with power armor." (<------description also courtesy of Mike .)

*visions of Aeryn Sun dance in my head*


The first half of the book is mostly repeat, if you've watched the series, but I knew that going into it, and when I hit new material at the midway point, it took off. So that's also important to know: season one of the Syfy series doesn't cover the entire first book, only half of it.

So maybe it's consistently like this throughout the book for people who read LEVIATHAN WAKES prior to watching THE EXPANSE, but at around 60%, revelation upon revelation starting being revealed, and in a holy-crap-that's-so-cool or holy-crap-WTF?! kind of way, not an overwhelming bombardment of information kind of way.

I plowed through it, resenting every moment I had to spend away from it, and when I finally got to the ending, it was perfect. There were enough unanswered questions to keep me eager to read the next installment, while still having sufficient closure to be satisfying. And the closure allowed me to appreciate Corey's wry humor in a way I probably missed in earlier parts of the book, b/c too desperate to find out WHAT IS HAPPENING to pay attention to silly things like the subtleties of wry humor. Fred Johnson's reference to himself as a "marriage counselor" even made laugh out loud.

Verdict: LEVIATHAN WAKES by James S. A. Corey is sci-fi enough to satisfy the hardcore fans of the genre without being overwhelming to the rest of us who just kinda like space and the idea of intelligent life in the universe. This mystery is just beginning to unravel and I will definitely be reading CALIBAN'S WAR to find out what happens next. Highly recommended.

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Profile Image for carol..
1,574 reviews8,228 followers
August 4, 2013
Leviathan Wakes broke my reading slump! Listlessly slogging my way through various reads--a couple of which came highly recommended--I was starting to wonder if it I had lost my book love. Then I picked this up for a Book o' the Month read. Expecting a detail dense sci-fi, within the first few pages I found myself hooked, and by page 100, thoroughly reeled in by this hefty genre mash-up. Space opera? Perhaps. Horror? Maybe. Military? Sort of. Mystery in space? Yes, definitely. And if by the end it reminded me a little of The Rook and The Gone-Away World, that's not a negative comparison. All of them have some interesting philosophical underpinnings combined with genre mash-up, a light mystery-driven plot and a nice side of humor.

"Mariner Valley had been settled by East Indians, Chinese and a small contingent of Texans. Apparently the drawl was viral. They all had it now."

Oddly, I seem to be on an unintentional run of books created by collaborators, and in some cases it works well (Ilona Andrews), and in some, not so much. Although there's a few rough spots here--and I'd have to agree with a number of reviewers that pinpoint the ending as displeasing--it generally works very well. I went looking for some background on the collaboration, and the duo offered up a few thoughts on Scalzi's blog and in an appealing three-part Youtube video interview with author Carrie Vaughn: http://youtu.be/Yu0xJpCy95o

Initially, a fragmented viewpoint had trouble luring me in, but once the authors settled down for an exchange of viewpoints between Holden, an "executive officer" on an ice hauling deep-space freighter of outcasts, and Detective Miller, a world-weary member of an asteroid peace-keeping force, it was suddenly became completely absorbing. The culture felt at once familiar with generational differences between deep spacers who grow up on various asteroids and moons, and those that grow up on the more developed Earth and Martian colonies. The writers add a twist by including some physical differences that occur between Earth-gravity and deep-space gravity peoples, and further enlarge upon it by including economic and political angles that make the culture-building feel real. If the lead characters seem a bit stereotypical, it is because the authors intended them to be more archetypical. The genius is in their interactions, with the world-weary detective and his 'realistic' problem-solving contrasting with the outsider hero and his optimistic one. Suddenly 'right' and 'wrong' aren't so clear.

"The circle of life on Ceres was so small you could see the curve. He liked it that way."

I admire the writers' goal of a composition that addresses the emotion of the story, and for wanting to write an engaging style that doesn't depend on artificial cliffhangers (Psst! Modern UF and YA--we're talking about you). One reason I don't spend much time in deep-space sci-fi is the tendency to focus on world and tech-building at the expense of character and plot. Either that, or it all becomes a set-up for a giant philosophical thought experiment. Had I known from the beginning about the authors' intentions, I might have went into it with higher expectations of enjoyment.

"We’re sentimentalists. We care whether the soul-crushed cop finds redemption. We care whether the quixotic holy fool of a captain overcomes his own failings in time to get the girl. And we expect you to care too. The risk we take is that you might not, and if you don’t, there’s no defense against the failure on our part. But you know what? We think it’s worth it anyway."

It was worth it.

Four deep-space stars.

Cross posted at http://clsiewert.wordpress.com/2013/0...
Profile Image for Christina Loeffler.
143 reviews17.3k followers
August 27, 2018
4, turns out husbands CAN be right sometimes stars!!!

This review along with a recipe for Mariner Valley skillet lasagna is now featured on my blog Recipe & a Read: https://recipeandaread.wordpress.com/...

So lets start this one off with the truth: I'm not a sci-fi fan. I don't dislike sci-fi but I have a hard time with it and it tends to get bogged down for me. But, that's neither here nor there because I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Let us begin:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, fa....nope, wrong science fiction story. In round about 200 years, humans have colonized the solar system. Our major players are Earth, Mars and the "Belt" (i.e. the stations located in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter). We've also got the OPA (Outer Planets Alliance) to contend with as well. The OPA is a group of loosely affiliated members fighting for the rights of those who inhabit the belt - known ever so cleverly as "belters".

"Too many dots," Miller said. "Not enough lines."

This baby starts of with a serious bang with our prologue introducing us to Julie. Julie and her crew have been taken captive and she's left alone in a dark locker for days on end. When her sanity begins to wane she breaks herself out to find an abandoned ship around her. When she does finally locate the crew, it's a ghastly sight to say the absolute least. This is where our journey begins - what happened to Julie? Where is she now? Why is the ship she was on sending out an emergency signal? Enter James 'the loudest mouth in the solar system' Holden, the XO of the ice miner ship the Canterbury. His ship has picked up the previously mentioned emergency signal.

The law of the solar system was unequivocal. In an environment as hostile to life as space, the aid and goodwill of your fellow humans wasn’t optional.

When Holden and his crew board the Scopuli they have no idea what they will find and how this lone decision will be the catalyst that will change their lives forever. Enter down and out Detective Miller, he's been given orders to investigate the missing daughter of a high-level, wealthy family. He has no idea that the case and search for one Juliette Mao will be the catalyst that will change his life forever as well.

Told from alternating POVs between Miller and Holden we're given a broad and overarching look at the entire world and future Corey has built. This novel is a behemoth of a story and clearly the first in a series. A lot of ground work is laid down in the first half of this to build a world thoroughly for the reader. The beginning got a bit bogged down for me and veered into the hard sci-fi that I'm not a big fan of. However, when the two story lines finally converge, man does this thing get cookin'.

You spent your life in a stone bubble with your food, your water, your air shipped in from places so distant you could barely find them with a telescope and a certain moral flexibility was necessary.

For being a novel so steeped in traditional science fiction tropes Leviathan Wakes was incredibly accessible as a whole. A lot of delicate intricacy is at work in this novel dealing not only in the overarching mystery but in more subtle ways as well. Things like sexism, racism, human morality and where we draw lines are discussed regularly throughout this read. The technical demands and logistics of deep space exploration and colonization were handled deftly and secured on a realistic and clearly researched basis.

I've been reading a lot of thriller / suspense novels recently and this was a really nice break from a lot of the patterns these types of stories fall into. There is a great mystery here that keeps the intrigue alive for the entirety of the read. The world building is top notch and I was left endlessly impressed throughout. Even further, it was so refreshing to read something that was full of genuinely likable characters. I felt a strong connection to the crew of the Canterbury and loved Miller's thread and timeline.

All in all this lost a star for me because while as whole the novel was accessible and enjoyable (even for a non-sci-fi reader) the first 200 or so pages dragged a bit for me. There were multiple points that I didn't understand and had to get clarification for from my husband (as this is his favorite book series). However, despite the tedious build up this was an impressive edge-of-your seat read and I enjoyed going out on a limb with this one. I'm not sure I'll be picking up the second installment right away as these novels are a huge undertaking but I'll certainly be reading on down the line!

I'll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

There hadn’t been a cowboy on Earth in a hundred years, and Mars didn’t have a blade of grass that wasn’t under a dome or a horse that wasn’t in a zoo. Mariner valley had been settled by East Indians, Chinese and a small contingent of Texans. Apparently the drawl was viral. Because #TEXASFOREVER!
Profile Image for Samantha.
440 reviews16.8k followers
March 4, 2023
3.75 - This space opera meets crime noir is a great start to a series I'm looking forward to continuing!

2023: better on re-read - solid 4 stars
Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
434 reviews4,248 followers
May 17, 2023
Sorry, Jeff Bezos, Leviathan Wakes is dull

Someone purchased The Expanse Series as a gift for me because I love Dune and Game of Thrones; however, Leviathan Wakes is not even in the same league as these other books (although I do appreciate book gifts).

This book doesn’t have the great, mind-altering quotes of Dune or Game of Thrones. For the life of me, I couldn’t tell the difference between Miller and Havelock, and the audiobook was not a full cast which was disappointing because it would have helped me to differentiate between the characters.

The book felt slow-paced, and I didn’t care about any of the characters. There isn’t a very well-developed character arc, and there also is very little backstory on the characters.

I also wanted to feel something—I want to be moved. In Dune and Game of Thrones, you spend a lot of time hearing the characters’ thoughts. Not so in Leviathan Wakes.

Although I typically like short sentences, the technique was overused. The prose would have benefited from a varied sentence structure.

Overall, this book was such a chore to pick up each and every time, and the twist-ending was ridiculous.

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Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,102 followers
July 1, 2018
Re-read 7/1/18:

I feel like I've read this book three times now. Sure, not quite true, but I DID watch the Expanse episodes encompassing this book. So close enough. And now, after a third (sic second) read?

Pure love.

This is the gold standard for space opera. :) Everything else is just trying to catch up. :)

My original review still stands, too. :) I love it all. It's as close to genius as this kind of story can get.

Original Review:

Fantastic Space-Opera! I didn't know what to expect when I picked up the book besides the basic premise, and yet I was slowly drawn into situation after situation that got bigger and more bad-ass, contrary to what I was expecting in the first hundred pages or so. Sure, Solar-system action, big haulers, warships... I didn't expect the scope to become as large as it soon became, and believe me, I was quite satisfied with what came next. War? No problem. An expectation of high-level manipulation? Again, no problem. Cthulhu vomit zombies from galactic gods? I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING. Sorry about the spoilers, folks. I couldn't resist, especially how well it was developed and written and snared me big time. The title could have been filler, but actually, it was spot on mythological-wise. There were quite a few great cultural references that never felt strained or out of place. I was frankly delighted by the story and ideas. I've read quite a few novels that couldn't match this one.

I am tempted to compare this, slightly, to the tone and complexity available in Brin's Startide Rising. Nothing quite matches between SR and LW except the amount of world-building, depth of characterizations, implied scope, and delightful multiple plot twists. That is a lot, mind you, but in no way are the two related in the story! Leviathan Wakes was my first intro into the Expanse and I'll be looking forward to reading all of the rest, including the not-yet-released 4th book, with great anticipation.

Great, great space opera!
Profile Image for Samir.
111 reviews177 followers
February 3, 2018
Actual rating: 4.5 stars.

Leviathan Wakes is a joint venture of Daniel Abraham, writer of the Long Prince Quartet and The Dagger and the Coin series, and Ty Franck, George R.R. Martin’s former assistant and science fiction writer. They are writing under the pen name James S.A. Corey.

This is the first installment of The Expanse series which, at this point, has seven novels already published which means two things; the series is very successful and I’m very late to this party.

I did some research and found an interesting article about the collaboration of the authors and the process which led to making/writing this novel. Ty Franck initially created The Expanse as the setting for a MMO role-playing game. He created a solar system that included colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt and faraway planets, ruled by three major factions; Earth, Mars and the Outer Planets. There was also an alien presence, with a role to mix up the balance between factions. He also set up a political commotion to create conflict among the factions. Unfortunately, at the time, his efforts to create this game were futile because he couldn’t find investors. He later started to run it as a text based role-playing game on a gaming forum, and there, the story began to form along with the characters, but eventually, the participants lost interest.

Franck met Abraham at the science fiction convention but they became friends much later when Franck joined the local collective of science fiction writers called Critical Mass, with members such as Abraham, Martin, Tregillis, among others. They heard about his game and asked him to set one up for them. After a couple of sessions, Abraham was impressed with the level of detail and thought the setting would make a great novel. The initial plan was for Abraham to write a book based on Franck's notes but the first attempt failed. Abraham wrote the prologue and the first chapter but Franck wasn't satisfied because Abraham didn't see the world in the same way. He rewrote the chapters and after that, they began to alternate chapters. Franck wrote the chapters following Holden and Abraham wrote the ones following Miller. Abraham focused on the prose and filling in the details regarding characters and Franck focused on the world building and the plot. Leviathan Wakes was born.

As I mentioned above, the story takes place in the Sol system; the Moon, Mars, the asteriod Belt and beyond. Humanity has colonized the planets but the interstellar travel is still beyond their reach.The Sol system has become a network of colonies with tensions brewing, the mineral rich outer planets begrudge their dependence on Earth and Mars and the political and military influence they have over the Belt and beyond.

The novel is written in a third person limited style and each chapter is told from the POV of a central character. The first one is Jim Holden, the captain of the ice miner who, along with his crew, stumbles upon a derelict, abandoned ship, the Scopuli, and uncovers a secret that threatens to throw the entire system into war. The other one is Miller, a washed up detective, given a case to find a missing girl and his investigation leads him to the Scopuli and Holden. Soon, they find themselves on the same side, and while the solar system is on the brink of the civil war, they discover a vast conspiracy that threatens the entire human race.

It's hard to say more without giving up the major plot twists so I'll leave it at that and hope that would be enough to intrigue you.

Even though Leviathan Wakes is imagined to have a classic space opera feel, I'm very glad to inform you that it doesn't suffer from the dreary info dumps about technology and space stuff. There are some technical inputs but nothing that will make you feel bored.

There is something for everyone here; a gripping story, detailed world building, detective mystery, spaceship combats, thrilling action scenes, suspense, and the best of all, a cast of great, fleshed out characters, which drive this great story with an unpredictable ending.

The series has been adapted for TV, also under the title The Expanse, if you want catch a glimpse of what you can expect from the book. I must admit, I watched the first season of the show before I've read the book and the show intrigued me enough to give the book a try, and after reading it, I must say the casting for the show was very well done and it was kinda cool going through the book with the character's appearances already formed in my mind.

I highly recommend this novel, even to those of you who aren't fans of the space stuff, and I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did because I can't wait to start the next one.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,217 followers
November 3, 2020
5.0 Stars
Video Review: https://youtu.be/TwrwVfmZPeA
Spoiler Discussion: https://youtu.be/08TaOvk1z1s

I absolutely loved this first novel in the The Expense series. This could be a case of reading the right book and at the right time, but Leviathan Wakes has officially earned a place on my favourites shelf. When I started Leviathan Wakes,I was craving a long, absorbing scifi space opera and the book completely delivered.

Despite the length, I read this book very quickly, picking up the book whenever I had a free moment. The chapters were short, flipping between the two main characters' perspectives, which I found equally engaging. The story itself is very gripping with plenty action and adventure. The chapters often ended on cliff hangers, which kept me turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

This is a great place to start with science fiction. The world building and technology felt straight forward and understandable. The novel crosses into other genres with elements of mystery and horror, creating appeal to a wider audience.

This series has been pitched as the science fiction version of George R.R. Martin's fantasy series and I understand the comparison. While less complex, with a very different plot, Leviathan Wakes gave me the same immersive, cutthroat reading experience that I loved in A Song of Ice and Fire.

If you're in the mood for science fiction, I highly recommend picking up Leviathan Wakes. I cannot wait to continue on with the next book in this series!
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,977 reviews1,989 followers
October 1, 2019
Okay, I admit it. I was wrong. It's a solid 3-plus star read. Not quite a four, there are a few focus issues...extended time spent in Eros's casino level, f/ex...where the point gets made a bit harder than is good for the story. But my dismissive early review is wrong.

Real Rating: 2.5* of five
**UPDATE 23 October 2018** The Kindle edition is a whopping $2.99! Even *I* would buy it at that price...if I hadn't already read it.

**UPDATE 24 JUNE 2018** I love the series, now in its third season, a lot. I was delighted to see the folks at Amazon Prime Video will give it a fourth season. But this video presents a really good reason why the book is good. (I'm not a fan, but the podcaster makes a really case for it.)

**UPDATE 22 December 2016** This is a mea-culpa of epic proportions. Syfy did a stellar job of making this series. I couldn't have been more wrong about the series, though I still don't like the books. This YouTube video of a Google Talk from 2014 is a terrific proof of why the series works so well. Excellent television! Binge on the series at Prime for the holidays.

**UPDATE 6 September 2013** More Suckass News Dept, from SFSignal: "Variety is reporting that scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby (Iron Man and Children of Men) will script the pilot of the how called The Expanse, which is based on the series of novels written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the pseudonym James S.A. Corey.

The book series consists of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate and the soon-to-be-released Cibola Burn.

The Expanse will be an hour long SciFi drama “with elements of a detective procedural, centring on a cover-up of the discovery of alien life”.

Not much else is known at this point. Stay tuned!"

Yuck. Couldn't pick a GOOD series. No no no.

The Publisher Says: Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

My Review: Exactly half-way to a five-star world-beating yodel-worthy space opera. An extremely interesting choice of time to explore, sort of late Red Mars-to-early-Green Mars time. A choice group of characters, the standard Hero's Journey plot, and away we go!

Only we don't so much. We stall out on characterization...flat-ish, unsurprising...we hop around in PoV terms until I feel like a flea on a chihuahua that ate some coffee beans and is more manic than usual. We keep events hurtling along, far too many of them in fact, and we mangle our hands in the machinery of alienness.

We did too much, ate too much, played too rough. Our tummy hurts now, and we need a nap.

Plus? I hate the ending so much I want to send the editor a nastygram. THIS COULD HAVE AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN FIXED. It's not for the author to do, this is a collaboration and that means sometimes a referee is needed. This was one of them. No way would I read the next book! And that's sad, because I really really like The Expanse and its cool politics and people.
Profile Image for Alejandro.
1,142 reviews3,565 followers
June 20, 2015
A fair option of new science-fiction book series.


I have a lot of curiousity about this series since it seemed like a very good option in new sci-fi. I mean, out of the obvious well-known sci-fi space opera books in the market, this "Expanse" series sounded like a good way to read something fresh in the field of sci-fi.

And I was right. I liked the book.

First of all, maybe you already know but anyway, I want to mention that "James S.A. Corey", the author, is a pen name used by two writers that they collaborated to make this book. Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. And while they were writing the book, they got tips and advices from a Writers' Group with big names like George R.R. Martin.


The ambiance work here is monumental, since they really constructed their own book universe leaving nothing to chance. Technology, political situation, social interaction, etc... in the first two or four chapters you may feel a little like fish out of water, working hard to absorb the environment of this literary universe, but I don't think you will need more than that. After you get the tech babble and socio-political situation, you will see it that it's not so hard to understand at all.

In the first part of the story, you will get two different genres, the standard space opera that you would expect to find but also you will get a true crime noir novel here, since the book has two main protagonists: Holden, a space hero; and, Miller, a detective cop.

I have hard times to like Holden, it's not like that he isn't a nice guy, but maybe he is too nice. I mean, many times I see him like a naive idealistic fool. While Miller, I like him right away from the beginning. However, part of the beauty in this book is the colliding of this totally opposite points of view. None of both are totally right, but also, they aren't totally wrong.

Another cool thing of reading new sci-fi is uncertainty. I mean, if you are reading a Star Trek novel (that I love a lot), you know clearly who is the good guy and who is a bad boy, but here, sometimes you don't know who to trust or not, so you feel in the same boat than the protagonists and you share their fear of falling into a trap.

I am amazed that the authors said that they weren't working too hard to get a "hard science" story, and obviously I don't know how truthful can be the science babble that they used on the book, but trust me, that sounds quite real and you feel that all can be possible and very realistic not matter that they are dealing with spaceships and things like that.

At the end, the story is a simple one if you try to make a resume of it, but I think that's a good thing. Inserting details in the story to make it feeling realistic is good, but you have to keep the main storyline simple, in that way, the readers won't feel lost in the middle of the book and they will enjoy the experience of reading it.

Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews33 followers
May 3, 2022
Leviathan Wakes (Expanse, #1), James S.A. Corey, Ty Franck

Leviathan Wakes (2011) is a science fiction novel by James S. A. Corey, the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. It is the first book in the Expanse series, followed by Caliban's War (2012), Abaddon's Gate (2013), Cibola Burn (2014), Nemesis Games (2015), Babylon's Ashes (2016), Persepolis Rising (2017), Tiamat's Wrath (2019) and ....

Humanity has colonized the solar system: Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond, but the stars are still out of our reach. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: ماه دسامبر سال2017میلادی

عنوان: گستره: کتاب نخست: بیدار�� لویاتان؛ نویسنده: جیمز اس.ای(آ) کوری؛ مترجم: سمیه کرمی؛ تهران، کتابسرای تندیس؛ سال1396؛ در720ص؛ فروست: گستره، بیداری لویاتان؛ شابک9786001822544؛ موضوع: داستانهای معمایی از نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده20م

خوانشگر در این کتاب همراه با خدمه‌ ی ناوچه‌ ای فضایی، و کارآگاهی غمگین، در پیِ کشفِ رازی بزرگ، به ماجراجویی در سیاره ی خورشیدی می‌رود؛ دیر یا زود، پای انسان، به دیگر سیاره‌ های خورشیدی باز خواهد ‌شد، سراغ سیارک‌ها خواهیم رفت، و روزی که رفتیم چه می‌شود؟ «گستره» با اینکه یک اپرای فضایی نفس‌گیر است، پرسشهای مهمی در اینباره می‌پرسد؛ همچون بسیاری از داست��ن‌های علمی‌ خیال انگیز، در زیر پوسته‌ ای ماجراجویانه، پرسشهای ژرف و جدی، درباره‌ ی آینده‌ ی فناوری، و چگونگی سوده بردن از آن می‌پرسد؛ خوانشگر اپرای فضایی، و از سویی داستانی کلاسیک، و معمایی، و هر از گاهی نیز سَری به دنیاهای پر از زامبی می‌زند؛ سریالی نیز با همین عنوان ساخته شده و یکی از پربیننده ترین سریال‌های علمی‌ و خیال انگیز است

نقل نمونه متن:(از کتاب گستره: سرآغاز: «جولی»: هشت روز پیش «اسکاپیولای» را تسخیر کرده بودند، و «جولی مائو» دیگر جانش به لبش رسیده بود، و حاضر بود با یک گلوله خلاصش کنند؛ هشت روز اسارت توی کمد، از زندگی سیرش کرده بود؛ دو روز اول را بیحرکت مانده بود، شک نداشت مردان زره پوشی که زندانیش کرده بودند، شوخی نداشتند؛ سفینه ای که در آن زندانی شده بود، تا چند ساعت اول حرکت نمیکرد، و در نتیجه در حالت بی وزنی میان زمین و هوا شناور بود، ضربه های ملایمی به اطراف میزد، تا به دیوارها، و لباس فضایی خویش برخورد نکند؛ وقتی سفینه شروع به حرکت کرد، و قدرت پیشرانه باعث شد وزن پیدا کند، بیصدا آنقدر همانطور سر پا ایستاد، تا پاهایش خشک شدند، بعد به حالت جنینی روی زمین نشست؛ در لباس پروازش ادرار میکرد، به بو و خیسی سوزآورش اهمیت نمیداد، و فقط نگران بود لیز نخورد، و روی خیسی زمین نیفتد، نباید سر و صدا میکرد؛ آنها به او شلیک میکردند؛ روز سوم، فشار تشنگی باعث شد، دست به کار شود؛ سر و صدای سفینه، احاطه اش کرده بود؛ غرش ضعیف مادون صوت موتور پیشرانه، و رآکتور، هیس و تپ تپ همیشگی آهن، و درهای هیدرولیک میان عرشه ها، که دائم باز و بسته میشدند، و ضربه های چکمه های سنگین، که روی عرشه های آهنین راه میرفتند؛ آنقدر منتظر شد، تا تمام صداها محو و دور شدند، بعد لباس فضاییش را از گیره ها باز کرد، و کف کمد گذاشت؛ همانطور که گوش به زنگ بود مبادا صدایی نزدیک شود، به آرامی لباس را باز کرد، و ذخیره ی آبش را خارج کرد؛ آب کهنه بود و بو گرفته بود، ظاهراً مدت زیادی از آخرین بار، که کسی آن لباس را پوشیده، یا تعمیرش کرده بود، میگذشت؛ اما پس از دو روز بی آبی، آب گرم و گل آلودِ داخل محفظه ی لباس، بهترین چیزی بود که در تمام عمرش نوشیده بود؛ باید جلوی خودش را میگرفت، که تمامش را یکجا نبلعد، و بالا نیاورد؛ وقتی دوباره ادرار داشت، محفظه ی ادرار لباس فضایی را بیرون آورد، و همانجا کارش را کرد؛ روی زمین نشست، حالا که به لباس فضاییش تکیه داده بود، و کم و بیش جایش راحت بود، به این فکر میکرد، که چه کسانی اسیرش کرده اند، نیروی نظامی ائتلاف، دزدان فضایی، یا اشخاصی بدتر از اینها؟)؛ پایان نقل

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 21/04/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 12/02/1401هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 258 books409k followers
November 8, 2013
It had been a while since I'd read a straight-up space opera sci fi, so I gave it a try and loved it.

I especially liked the scope of the novel, which is set a few centuries in the future, when humanity has colonized much of the solar system but still has not reached the stars (or found alien life). Sadly, human politics and jingoism haven't changed much. Earth and Mars are in an uneasy alliance, and the humans living out on the asteroids of "the Belt" feel like exploited colonists. A fringe group called the OPA are agitating for war, with echoes of the American Revolution. Against this backdrop, two men from very different backgrounds are pulled into a horrifying mystery -- a disappearing ship, a girl with a complicated past, a Black Ops attack that threatens to start a solar-system-wide war, and a discovery that could change or destroy humanity.

The mystery will keep the pages turning. The characters are vividly brought to life. And the world is just alien enough, and just familiar enough, that I'll be anxious to read more books about. An adult novel, but YA sci fi fans will also love it.
Profile Image for Coffee&Quasars.
53 reviews5 followers
October 6, 2018
Edit: demoting this to 3 stars because the 4th simply hasn’t been sitting right with me and has generally been haunting my dreams.

I’d describe this novel as ‘extremely okay’. It’s well-written, has plenty of heartwarming and funny moments, likeable characters (for the most part) and plenty of action and intrigue from the get-go as well as consistently throughout. I can absolutely see why they made this into a TV show (which influenced me to read this in the first place), BUT... there’s something missing. For all its competence in execution, nothing particularly wowed me in the way that I’d need it to to give it, say, 5 stars.

Here are the flaws that almost tipped it to 3:

Miller - a great addition when he’s working off the rest of the team; a depressing arse with not entirely convincing motivations when he’s on his own.

The length - this feels extremely bloated. The plot is constantly moving, there’s always something happening and as far as I can see, every piece feels necessary to get to the end, BUT, it’s not always a fun ride. It can be a bit of a slog. Whenever I see a flaw in something I read, I think to myself, ‘how would I solve this problem?’ and I honestly don’t have an easy answer to this one. The length-to-interest ratio was just off in parts. That said, I justify Breaking Bad to newcomers by saying that it does start a little shakily, but it pays off in the later seasons. Some stories just take a little longer to get to where they’re going, but for the moment, I’m not feeling the satisfaction you want when you finish a novel of this size.

In the end, I had to give this 3.799 smackeroons for the parts that I did like. It’s certainly not bad by any means, but I’ve read better sci-fi this year. Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky ruined this one for me.
Profile Image for Ira Perkins.
18 reviews38 followers
June 5, 2023
A pretty stellar (hah!) beginning to a big-ol' space opera

Final Rating: 4.05/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

Diving into Leviathan Wakes without having seen the TV series, I wasn't quite sure what to expect especially seeing as I don't particularly like sci-fi books/worlds. Kudos to the authors though, as despite my reservations, this riveting space opera managed to pull me in with its captivating characters and kept me hooked with its awesome unexpected twists and turns. Overall it delivered a thrilling journey through a complex universe that has left me eager to check out the next few books in the series - and questioning again "maybe I can be a sci-fi guy?".

World Building: 3.5/5
Given the whole space setting, straight off the bat it was going to be pretty hard for me to absolutely love the world that this book is built in. With that being said, I thought the author's attention to detail, from the intricacies of space travel to the subtle cultural differences between various factions, made the Expanse universe a truly believable one... or as believable as a futuristic sci-fi world can be.... Although I personally skimmed some of the lengthier descriptive parts, that didn't detract from my experience much at all - as there was so much else to be enjoyed.

One thing I really did enjoy was the politically-charged backdrop that the story takes place in. It gives us a future where humans have spread out across the solar system, and Earth, Mars, and the Belters are all caught up in this crazy dance of power. The book really nails how these different groups have their own unique cultures, values, and goals, but also how they kinda depend on each other, making things super tense. The political stuff in the story feels legit and well thought-out, like you've got all these factions duking it out for control, influence, and the good stuff. It's got that vibe of the best political thrillers, and you can't help but get hooked as it all unfolds. With all the alliances, backstabbing, and hidden agendas, you're in for one heck of an engaging read.

"The cold equations of power and politics had never impressed him. People were more than the masks they wore."

Story Telling: 4.5/5
Leviathan Wakes is a wild ride that expertly blends mystery, action, and political drama into one heck of a space adventure. The detective noir half of the story is centered around the puzzling disappearance of Julie Mao, a young heiress with powerful connections, our heroes Holden and Miller find themselves smack dab in the middle of a massive conspiracy. They face off against ruthless corporations, shifty politicians, and a terrifying bioweapon called the "protomolecule" that could change everything. As they race against the clock to uncover the truth, the stakes couldn't be higher — they're trying to save the entire solar system from spiraling into chaos and war.

A huge advantage of not having watched the TV series is that I was in the dark about how the story progressed. This was a huge boon, as there were more twists and turns than a roller coaster! On top of that it's packed with jaw-dropping action sequences and heart-wrenching character moments. The way the plot keeps you guessing and constantly on your toes is nothing short of brilliant. Leviathan Wakes is an unforgettable journey that will leave you absolutely hooked on the Expanse series and craving more of this epic space opera.

I think there might be one tiny hiccup with Leviathan Wakes: at the beginning, it might feel a bit slow, and you might think there's a whole lot of info crammed in. But seriously, don't let that put you off! Once things get rolling, the action and suspense crank up big time, and it's totally worth sticking it out through the early bits.

"Sometimes you don't know what the right thing is until you've tried everything else."

Characters: 5/5
For me the absolute highlight of the book was the two main characters. First up you've got Jim Holden (who feels very similar to Captain Malcolm Reynolds out of the TV series Firefly), an Earther and the XO of this ice-hauler. He's all about morals and doing the right thing, but sometimes that lands him in hot water. Throughout the book, we see him learning the hard way that the world isn't always black and white. His journey from being a bit naive to really grasping the complexities of people and politics is honestly pretty compelling.

Then there's Joe Miller (who for me is the much more relateable of the two), a Belter and a tough-as-nails detective. He's had a rough go of it and is pretty jaded, but when he starts investigating the case of missing heiress Julie Mao, he finds a new sense of purpose. Miller is deeply flawed and has experienced hardships that has left him pretty disillusioned, but he remains driven by a need to uncover the truth and a strong sense of justice, finding a sense of purpose and redemption along the way. A really good story arc.

The back-and-forth between him and Holden is one of the best parts of Leviathan Wakes—it's just so real and engaging. It reminds me of the partnership between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in The X-Files. Similar to Mulder and Scully, Holden and Miller often serve as foils for each other, with their opposing perspectives leading to engaging debates and contributing to their growth as individuals.... As one last point, the book's packed with a bunch of other awesome characters who each feel pretty unique and interesting (even though you don't get POV's from them) that were just really well done.

"In a culture that wallowed in the victimization of others, he wasn't about to wait for someone else to save him."

Writing Style: 3.5/5
Leviathan Wakes serves up some pretty solid prose. It's got this cool mix of space opera, hard sci-fi, and detective noir vibes, which makes for a really unique and captivating read. The descriptions are on point, painting a vivid picture of the world and making you feel like you're right there with the characters. I think where it really shines is the snappy dialogue between characters, with conversations feeling genuine and snappy, that really helped me get into the characters' heads. Even though the book gets into some heavy technical and political stuff, the prose still manages to keep it engaging and not too overwhelming - or if you're like me, you can just skim parts of the world-building that don't particularly interest you.

Of course, no book is perfect, and there might be a few moments where the prose could be a bit smoother or the pacing a little more balanced - I especially found that the first half of the book was a bit of a struggle to get through in terms of slow story build up. But overall, Leviathan Wakes hits the mark with its prose, giving you a fun, immersive read that'll have you turning pages like there's no tomorrow.

Enjoyment: 3.75/5
When I first started reading Leviathan Wakes, I have to admit, the beginning felt a bit slow for my taste. The book took its time to build up the sci-fi world and introduce the characters... So maybe a 3/5 for the beginning... However, the second half of the story was a real turning point. As the pace picked up, I found myself completely engaged by the thrilling action, surprising twists, and the evolving relationships between the characters... For ratings probably 4.5 out of 5 by the end... So, if you're considering giving it a try, be patient—it's definitely worth it by the end! Also if you're into Sci-Fi, then this would completely be up your alley.

In short, Leviathan Wakes is a wild ride with a little bit of a slow start, but one that is totally worth sticking around for. The characters and plot twists will kept me hooked until the end, and I'm really looking forward to jumping into the next books in the series - that I've heard just get better and better.

Final Rating: 4.05/5 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

My favourite books of 2023 in preferential order
1. The Shadow of the Gods - (My Review)
2. The Lies of Locke Lamora
3. The Forgetting Moon - (My Review)
4. Kings of the Wyld - (My Review)
5. Red Seas Under Red Skies - (My Review)
6. The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World
7. Empire of the Vampire - (My Review)
8. Assassin's Apprentice - (My Review)
9. Golden Son
10. Leviathan Wakes - (My Review)
11. The Winter King - (My Review)
12. Gardens of the Moon - (My Review)
13. Deadhouse Gates - (My Review)
14. The Song of Achilles - (My Review)
15. Red Sister - (My Review)
16. Babel: An Arcane History - (My Review)
September 23, 2018
5 "blinded me with science" stars!

I'll write a full review when I have time to really put all my thoughts together. But right now I can say this is one of my favorite science fiction novels ever!

I absolutely loved the way the science of this universe was incorporated into this story. From the way people had different body types based on the different rates of gravity of their worlds, to how the various types of spacecraft all worked in unique ways, the science was very well established and added a fascinating element to all the exciting things happening during the story.

I also really enjoyed many of the characters in the novel. Some characters were interesting from the moment we met them, like Naomi and Miller, while others really grew on my as the story went on, like Amos, who I felt was more of a background character in the beginning but became one of my favorites by the second half of the book.

This was a five out of five stars read for me throughout most of the book, but that last few chapters were more like ten out of stars for me! The climax of the novel is so fast paced with many last-minute dangers and twists thrown in, it was one of the most thrilling sequences I've ever read.

A brilliant mix of classic noir-driven style of writing with a more modern action-based story, I recommend this book for any fans of science-fiction. I can't wait to read more about "The Expanse" universe!
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