Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Falls Cover

Publisher: Orbit/Recorded Books (Audiobook – 30 November 2021)

Series: The Expanse – Book Nine

Length: 19 hours and 40 minutes

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Amazon     Book Depository

For my last review of 2021 I check out the epic and highly anticipated final book in the iconic The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey, Leviathan Falls.

For the last ten years the science fiction genre has been dominated by the impressive and captivating The Expanse series.  Written by James S. A. Corey, the joint pen name of authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, The Expanse series consists of nine awesome novels that navigate the troubles and wars of future humans in both our solar system, and other systems accessed by ancient alien technology.  This has been a pretty amazing series which has moved from wars between Earth, Mars and the Belt, to intergalactic travel and battles between galactic empires and interdimensional aliens.  I have been really enjoying this series lately, and the last two novels, Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath were extremely fun, especially as they utilised the conquering Laconian Empire, which forced the protagonists to form a rebel movement known as the underground.

The plot of Leviathan Falls starts a few months after the events of Tiamat’s Wrath, which saw the underground destroy Laconia’s shipyards and free James Holden, captain of the Rocinante, and Teresa Duarte, the daughter of the Laconian high consul.  Now the Rocinante flies throughout the various settled systems attempting to keep the underground alive and bring down the faltering Laconian Empire.  At the same time, unnatural and destructive alien forces, disturbed by the intergalactic technology used to traverse space, are reaching into our universe and attempting to exterminate all human life.

The best hope for humanity may lie in the hands of the Laconian high consul, Winston Duarte, whose alien enhancements have given him unnatural insight into the universe.  However, Winston Duarte is currently missing, having vanished from his room as he attempts to unleash his ambitious master plan.  To find him, the Laconians unleash their ultimate hunter, Colonel Aliana Tanaka, who focuses on the Rocinante, determined to use Teresa as bait.  At the same time, Dr Elvi Okoye leads a desperate scientific mission to uncover the secrets of the ancient aliens whose technology has allowed humanity to expand throughout the universe.  But her progress is dependent on the lives of the mysterious half-alien children in her care, whose ability to connect with the past could save the future.

As the situation in the universe becomes even more desperate, the crew of Rocinante are once again thrust into the midst of the battle for humanity’s survival.  Entering a desperate alliance and faced with near certain extinction, the Rocinante and their allies embark on a final battle for the future.  However, not only are they facing the malevolent forces from outside their universe, but also the radical and altered Winston Duarte, whose plan to save the species comes with an impossible price.  Can Holden and his crew stop him before it is too late, or is the final chapter in humanity’s story?

Leviathan Falls was another intense and impressive science fiction read from Corey, who brings this epic series to an end in a big way.  This ninth and final Expanse novel had a captivating and intense narrative filled with amazing and realistic science fiction elements, complex characters, and a fitting and heartbreaking conclusion that wraps everything up extremely well.  This ended up being a fantastic novel and I was glad I had a chance to see how everything finished up.

There is a great narrative for this book that takes the reader on a powerful and compelling ride as the authors seek to wrap everything up.  Leviathan Falls continues several of the storylines set up in the previous novels, especially Tiamat’s Wrath, and takes them towards their inevitable conclusion.  Told through multiple characters, including several minor figures, this is a slow-burn narrative that methodically sets up the various storylines and explores them to their full extent.  The story gets quite complex in places as the protagonists attempt to survive not only the various battles between the Laconians and the underground but also the malevolent entities attempting to take them down from another universe.  The first half of the story focuses on a cat-and-mouse battle between the protagonists on the Rocinante and the Laconian Colonel Tanaka, while there are some interesting examinations of Elvi’s attempts to understand the threat facing humanity.  These storylines lead up to a big event that sets up the intense and exciting second half of the novel and forces the previously disparate characters to come together and face the major threat.  This results in a massive, extended sequence that forces several characters to make some major decisions, and a moving conclusion that is both devastating and a fitting ending to the franchise.

The team behind The Expanse have a really unique writing style that I think fits the epic scope of their series.  Using an intense amount of description, as well as some colourful analogies, the authors paint a brilliant picture of the events occurring around them that perfectly encapsulates the insanities and complexities of the situation.  The Expanse series is known for its realistic approach to science fiction, and this continues through in Leviathan Falls as the reader gets a real sense of the awesome nature of space flight through the various characters’ eyes.  While some of the science fiction elements are obviously invented solely for the narrative, most of the human technology in this book appears to be quite realistic and well thought out.  I also love the cool take on space travel, communication and fights, with many of the events in space taking hours or days to complete due to distance and light delays.  This is particularly impressive during the battle sequences which rely more on calculations and manoeuvres than fast-paced firepower, and it really added to the intensity of multiple scenes throughout the book.

While I enjoyed the narrative and the way that the authors told the story, Leviathan Falls did drag a little in places.  I honestly think they could have streamlined this into a better novel by taking out, say, 50 to 100 pages, and I personally would have cut all the chapters told from the perspective of Kit Kamal, which have no major impact on the overall story.  I also think that the authors went a tad overboard in places trying to make some of the elements and experiences seem a little cleverer than they needed to be, such as certain long-winded interludes.  While I understand that this is their writing style and it usually works, I felt that it made parts of the book a little unwieldy and unnecessarily complex.  Being the grand finale, it was also a very inaccessible novel for new readers, especially as so much of the plot relies on knowledge of some of the preceding books, particularly Persepolis Rising and Tiamat’s Wrath.  However, the rest of Leviathan Falls story more than compensates for some of the above issues, and this still ended up being an excellent and compelling read.

Fans of this series will no doubt appreciate some of the excellent world building that took place in Leviathan Falls.  The author introduces some interesting and compelling expansions of various elements of lore and technology within this universe, especially when it comes to the two ancient alien races who the protagonists have been encountering throughout the series.  It was rather fascinating to see how certain elements were utilised throughout the plot, and they ended up enhancing the narrative extremely well.  I loved all the use of alien technology, especially as there are some great call-backs to the previous books and the weird molecules and artefacts the protagonists previously encountered.  There was also a good wrap up with the universe that I really appreciated, and it think it ends everything on a compelling and interesting note.

Leviathan Falls features an impressive cast of complex characters, and the multiple perspectives are used to great effect throughout the book to craft a massive and elaborate narrative.  I liked the cool range of characters in this book, especially as it primarily focuses on the well-established cast from the previous novels, as well as one great new antagonist.  The vast array of perspectives proves to be a lot of fun to explore, although I do question the necessity of one or two overutilised point-of-view characters.  I also appreciated some of the development that occurred around the recurring cast of the series.  This included a tangible sense of weariness that multiple characters experienced, especially the series’ long-running protagonists, which helped to reflect how they have aged and evolved over the years, especially in the face of so much adversity.  There are also a couple of interesting inclusions that I quite enjoyed, including one excellent character whose return will come as a pleasant surprise to fans of The Expanse.

There are several extremely awesome characters that I really must highlight in this book, including protagonist James Holden, the captain of the Rocinante and main character of the series.  Holden has gone through a lot throughout The Expanse novels, and it shows in Leviathan Falls.  The character is clearly dealing with some PTSD following his extended imprisonment in the prior novel, and there are some compelling and intense trauma storylines around him.  Holden has a particularly major moment in this novel, and it ended up being an interesting and moving novel for this great central character.  Aside from Holden, you also must love the work put into the surviving crew members of the Rocinante, Naomi Nagata, Amos Burton and Alex Kamal, each of whom have their own interesting storylines and serve as great point-of-view characters.  I particularly enjoyed the increased focus on Naomi now that she’s the head of the underground, and it was still fascinating to see her as a confident and capable leader.  Amos’s storyline was also rather interesting, especially after he died and was resurrected by alien technology in the previous novel.  This gives him some unique perspectives throughout the book, although there were only so many times you can hear about the “unnatural pauses” he now has.

In addition to the Rocinante crew members, several other exceptional characters also really stood out to me.  I continued to enjoy the inclusion of Elvi Okoye, the brilliant scientist who was drafted into the Laconian military force as the leading expert on alien technology.  Elvi offers most of the scientific insight into the events occurring in the novel, and it was interesting to see her experiences as she attempts to understand the ancient alien technology and discover a solution to the mysterious attacks plaguing the various human systems.  I also really appreciated Colonel Aliana Tanaka, a Laconian soldier who is sent to track down the missing Winston Duarte by hounding the Rocinante and trying to take back Teresa Duarte.  Despite being a new character, Tanaka has one of the best arcs in the entire novel, as she is forced to contend with not only the boldness of the protagonists but also her own instabilities and issues.  While she initially appears to be a mostly rage filled attack-dog, the author soon expands on her character and backstory turning her into a very complex and somewhat sympathetic figure.  This is particularly true after a major event results in an unwelcome intrusion in her mind, and her inability to cope makes her even wilder and angrier.  These brilliant characters really helped to enhance Leviathan Fall’s plot and it was an absolute pleasure to see all the great character driven story arcs come to an end.

While I did receive a physical copy of Leviathan Falls, I ended up listening to the audiobook version to fit this book into my reading schedule.  This was a pretty good audiobook, and I had a fantastic time getting through it.  Leviathan Falls has a decent run time of just under 20 hours, which did take me a while to get through, especially in some of the spots where my engagement slipped a little.  Despite the length, this was a fantastic audiobook adaptation and I appreciated the impressive narration from Jefferson Mays, who has previously lent his voice to all the previous The Expanse novels.  Mays’ voice seems to fit the massive and epic format of the series extremely well and I found myself appreciating and following some of the heavy scientific elements, battle sequences and intriguing analogies a bit better with his work.  He also provides some excellent voices to the various characters featured in the series which fit their various personalities and helped to showcase their emotions.  I had an awesome time listening to this latest audiobook and it is an impressive way to check this novel out.

After nine epic novels, The Expanse series by James S. A. Corey finally comes to end with the fantastic Leviathan Falls.  This final book does an excellent job of tying together the various story threads from the previous novels and giving this impressive series the outstanding conclusion it deserves.  Filled with complex characters, a powerful and rich science fiction setting, and an intriguing central storyline, Leviathan Falls was an awesome read.  An amazing and cool conclusive episode, Leviathan Falls is really worth checking out and I loved its compelling and exciting story.

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WWW Wednesday – 29 December 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Judge’s List by John Grisham (Trade Paperback)

The Judge's List Cover

I started reading this fun thriller from bestselling author John Grisham today and I am really getting into it.  The Judge’s List has a fantastic narrative about a serial killer judge with a great, slow-burn investigation into his crimes.  I have already powered through more than 100 pages today and I am hoping to finish it off soon. A great read that I would strongly recommend.

 

Never by Ken Follett (Audiobook)

Never Cover

I also recently started the new thriller by impressive author Ken Follett, Never.  This is an interesting book from Follett that envisions a potential scenario that could lead to World War III.  I mostly know Follett from his massive historical fiction reads, but I am rather enjoying this interesting and intense thriller novel.  I haven’t made an amazing amount of progress on this audiobook but I am hoping to make a dent in it soon and I am very curious to see how Never turns out.

What did you recently finish reading?

Dragonslayer by William King

Dragonslayer Cover

 

Resistance by Mara Timon

Resistance Cover

 

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Falls Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World by K. J. Parker

A Practical Guide to Conquering the World Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 22 December 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Resistance by Mara Timon (Trade Paperback)

Resistance Cover

 

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey (Audiobook)

Leviathan Falls Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

Unfortunately, I failed to finish any books off in the last week as I was a little focused on writing up some reviews, as well as some other stuff.  I did make some progress on both of the above and I will finish them off in the next day or so.  I have some holiday leave coming up, so hopefully I will be able to get a few more novels read before the end of the year.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Judge’s List by John Grisham

The Judge's List Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 15 December 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

Resistance by Mara Timon (Trade Paperback)

Resistance Cover

 

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey (Audiobook)

Leviathan Falls Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

The Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh

The Spy's Wife Cover

 

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

Cytonic Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Noise by James Patterson & J. D. Barker

The Noise Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

WWW Wednesday – 8 December 2021

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

So, let’s get to it.

What are you currently reading?

The Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh (Trade Paperback)

The Spy's Wife Cover

 

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson (Audiobook)

Cytonic Cover

What did you recently finish reading?

All Of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

All of us Villains Cover

What do you think you’ll read next?

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Falls Cover

 

That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.

Book Haul – 7 November 2021

I have just had a particularly awesome and amazing book day after receiving a massive parcel from Hachette Australia (see below):

InkedParcel Shot 1_LI

Inside in this big parcel was an impressive collection of current and upcoming releases, including several amazing books that I have been looking forward to for a very long time.

Parcel Shot 2

As these books are likely to be some of the main reads I check out in the next few months, I thought I would take this opportunity to gloat about, I mean highlight, what I got and why they are so awesome.

Each of the following books are really amazing, and I cannot wait to see how each and every single one of them turns out.

The Honour of Rome by Simon Scarrow

The Honour of Rome Cover

The first of these new books is the awesome historical fiction read, The Honour of Rome by Simon Scarrow.  This is the latest entry in Scarrow’s long-running Eagles of the Empire series, which chronicles the adventures of two Roman officers in a range of different conflicts (see my reviews for some of the other Eagles of the Empire novels, The Blood of Rome, Traitors of Rome and The Emperor’s Exile, as well as Scarrow’s other 2021 release, Blackout). This latest book has more of a historical crime fiction angle to it, with the protagonists facing off against gangsters in ancient London. I have already started this cool book and I cannot wait to see how it turns out.

 

Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson

Cytonic Cover

Next, we have one of my most anticipated novels for 2021, Cytonic by Brandon Sanderson.  Cytonic is the third novel in the epic Skyward series, a particularly awesome young adult science fiction series. The first two novels in this series, Skyward (one of the best books of 2018) and Starsight (one of the best books of 2019), were extremely awesome and I have no doubt that Cytonic is going to be another exceptional read.

 

Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey

Leviathan Falls Cover

I was also lucky enough to receive Leviathan Falls by James S. A. Corey, easily one of the biggest science fiction releases of the year. Leviathan Falls is the final book in the iconic Expanse series, and looks to wrap up this massive series.  I had a lot of fun with the last few entries in this series (check out my review for Tiamat’s Wrath), and I am extremely curious to see how this exceptional series comes to an end.

 

All of us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman

All of us Villains Cover

One of the more interesting novels I recently received was the cool sounding All of us Villains by the writing team of Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. This intriguing novel features a magical battle royal between teenagers in a small town, and I am very curious to see how everything turns out.

 

Blindspace by Jeremy Szal

Blindspace Cover

The next book I want to highlight is the compelling science fiction epic, Blindspace by Australian author Jeremy Szal. This is the sequel to one of the best debuts of last year, Stormblood, which contained an amazing and elaborate narrative about an alien-based conspiracy on a giant space station. This next book, Blindspace, looks to continue the impressive story from Stormblood, and I look forward to seeing where Szal’s story goes next. This is a pretty massive book, so I am going to have to make a fair bit of room in my reading schedule to check it out, and I think it is going to be worth it.

 

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart

The Bone Shard Emperor Cover

Another great sequel I have received is The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart. This fantastic novel is the intriguing sequel to The Bone Shard Daughter, a great debut from last year that featured a compelling fantasy realm and some unique magic. This sequel has a very interesting story to it and I cannot wait to see how everything unfolds.

 

The Judge’s List by John Grisham

The Judge's List Cover

I also received the latest book from crime fiction legend John Grisham, The Judge’s List. While I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Grisham’s works in the past, this one sounds very fun, as it features a serial killer who also happens to be a judge. I am sure that this is going to be an outstanding read and I cannot wait to check it out.

 

Galaxias by Stephen Baxter

Galaxias Cover

I was also lucky enough to grab a copy of the new Stephen Baxter science fiction novel, GalaxiasGalaxias is an awesome and fun sounding novel that tries to envision what would happen to the world if the sun suddenly went out. I love the fantastic concept contained in this book, and I think that Galaxias is going to be a pretty wild ride.

 

Warriors of God by Andrzej Sapkowski

Warriors of God Cover

One of the more unique books I recently received was the latest translated novel from fantasy legend Andrzej Sapkowski (of The Witcher fame), Warriors of GodWarriors of God is the second book in his Hussite trilogy, an interesting fantasy/historical fiction hybrid series, and it follows on from his 2020 release, The Tower of Fools.  The first book in this series was really crazy and very entertaining, and I look forward to seeing what happens to Sapkowski’s unique protagonists next.

 

World’s Edge by David Hair

World's Edge Cover

The next book I received is the second entry in David Hair’s Tethered Citadel series, World’s Edge. This cool fantasy series follows a group of explorers who find themselves in all manner of trouble as they attempt to find a legendary source of magic.  I rather enjoyed the first book in this series and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

 

Asterix and the Griffin by Jean-Yves Ferri and Didier Conrad

Asterix and the Griffin Cover

The final read I received from Hachette was the latest Asterix comic, Asterix and the Griffin.  I have been a big fan of this series since I was a kid, so I was pretty excited when I saw that the publisher had included a copy for me.  This latest comic has a fun sounding story about the heroes journeying to Eastern Europe in search of a legendary monster, and I am sure that it will be a fun and amusing read.

 

Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post.  As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in.  Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.