March 2, 2022

Review: Leviathan Falls

Leviathan Falls Leviathan Falls by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final book in a series that has swept across more than ten years and included a well-received SyFy/Amazon streaming series (which I am an ardent fan of). If you bought all nine books and displayed them, I daresay those doorstoppers would be threatening to break the shelves. So the question is, did this final volume live up to expectations and bring everything to a satisfying end?

I think so. There are a few minor quibbles, mainly in the form of the final antagonist Aliana Tanaka--I didn't think we needed to spend quite so much time in her head. Three of our four main characters, Naomi, Alex and Holden, each had viewpoint chapters, and I would far rather have had at least one chapter from Amos' POV. Now that he is a protomolecule-inspired part alien, I would have loved to know more about how he perceived the world.

Nevertheless, in this final book all the mysteries are revealed: what species made the protomolecule and the ring gates and why they were wiped out. The aliens that killed them, Lovecraftian-like entities from another universe, try to do the same to the humans who have (inadvertently) resurrected the ring gate, leading the dictator of Laconia, Winston Duarte, to attempt to turn all of humanity into a gigantic hive mind to battle back.

For a moment, Jim let himself look forward through epochs to see the brightness that humanity could become spread through the universe, discovering and creating and growing in its chorus. Reaching beyond anything a single human mind could conceive. A blanket of light that rivaled the stars themselves. Back in the bright chamber, his physical body wept with awe.

And he sighed.

"It's not worth it."

The series' ending is just perfect, because of course [redacted] would do what he did, and of course [redacted] would be the last one standing. I think that's what makes the ending so satisfying, that for all the high concepts and space battles and otherworldly enemies, it comes down to our core characters at the last.

One caveat: do not start the series with this book. You will be hopelessly confused. In fact, I don't know if you could skip any of the books....maybe volume 4, Cibola Burn, although there are still characters and threads in that book which come into play at the end. But I think the absolute minimum--if you're more concerned with the mysteries of the protomolecule and the ring gates--would be the first three and the final three books.

(I do regret that the final books probably won't be filmed and added to The Expanse series, though. This one, especially, would be epic, and I would have loved to see a certain actor playing out the Epilogue. On the other hand, I'm so grateful that Amazon picked up the series after SyFy's cancellation and we were able to get what we did.)

This series was, and is, an achievement, and we probably won't see many like it again.

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