Written by James S. A. Corey, (pseudonym for Daniel Abraham, Ty Franck
Number 9 in The Expanse
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera
Original Language: English
Read from 2021-12-22 to 2021-12-25
Read in English
Review: Leviathan Falls is a great conclusion to an excellent series of books, and while it did give me an ending that was better than I had any right to expect, it wasn’t quite all that I’d hoped for.
The only thing that has been predictable about The Expanse books has been that they’re rather different from each other, and Leviathan Falls is no exception. We’ve gone from the political, via the critical, through the action, and in this last book the story is, like the series itself, forcefully, mercilessly, rolling toward a conclusion. Not as quickly as one might expect, but with a momentum that feels stressful, relentless, and crushing. It’s a book about our main characters getting more of a sense of what they’re up against, and what stakes they’re playing for. Those stakes eventually feel so high that they’re impossible to properly understand.
And that may be where the book lost me a little. The story is heavily driven by a threat that, while it has very real consequences, exists primarily on a plane that necessarily remains mostly abstract for both the characters and the readers. For large parts of the book I was so interested in, and curious about, the exact nature of the imminent doom that I wasn’t able to feel any actual emotional connection to it. It didn’t make me appreciate the book that much less, but it made me appreciate it in an outside-in “this is clever” kind of way, rather than the visceral “whoa, this book has taken me for a ride” kind of way that I got from Tiamat’s Wrath.
The thing this book does do is bring a series that must have been extremely difficult to conclude to a conclusion that actually feels wholesome and satisfying – which is a relief. The book as a standalone work probably suffers a little from the need for a proper conclusion – there are certainly directions, twists, and turns that this story could have taken that would have made it more spectacular – but the setup in the preceding books is treated with a respect that doubtlessly benefits the series as a whole.
Leviathan Falls is an extremely solid end to an absolutely excellent series. I didn’t enjoy it in quite the way I had hoped, but I’m putting that at least partially down to being a victim of my own unrealistic expectations. The Expanse is a work of art, and this last book puts a nice bow on a series of books (and some great novellas) that should be considered essential, classic, sci-fi works.