This is how you do space opera

Written by

James S. A. Corey in 2011

I haven’t read a book so quickly since The Hungry Caterpillar, where there was always less than two sentences per page with a whacking great abstract picture of a caterpillar.  Spoiler alert: the caterpillar becomes a butterfly. But on to Leviathan Wakes. The book is brilliant. It’s just the kind of thing to get the mental juices flowing after you’ve read a book with 120 chapters.

We begin with unsettling events suggesting conspiracy in the outer emptiness of the Solar System. Juliette Mao and her crew are kidnapped by unknown men on their ship the Scopuli. James Holden and the crew he brought with him to check up on the Scopuli’s distress signal watch helplessly as their unarmed civilian ice freighter is destroyed by six nuclear missiles whilst they’re sitting in another ship an hour’s flight away. Talk about overkill.

Holden and the surviving members of his crew embark on a mission to track down the people responsible for the senseless destruction of his ship. He needed allies and resources to untangle the web of conspiracy. Resources are found unwittingly, first because the Martians give him a top of the line spaceship and then he is contacted by a former war hero in Fred Johnson, now leader of the third political faction in the Solar System. For an ally, he finds the unlikely Joe Miller, a former corporate security detective on Ceres colony. Miller is the counterpoint to Holden. Miller is cynical, tired, but brash and doesn’t make threats, he acts on them. Holden is still idealistic and tries to save the universe. Naturally, Holden hates Miller, but grows to respect him as the story reaches its conclusion.

If I’m honest, Leviathan Wakes is very much not a deep book. The characters are not as deep as some others in science fiction, and their growth and actions are mostly predictable. Even the villain in the piece is a very typical suited smart arse modeled after a Bond Baddie. But you ignore all that, because the writing is sharp and visually descriptive, without resorting to seemingly superfluous details of every meal the characters have like you get in A Song of Fire and Ice. Actually, that’s ironic, since the authors of this book are actually George R. R. Martin’s assistants!

It’s the frenetic pace of the action and drama that gets you hooked, preventing you from putting down the book/Kindle you’re reading. Even if its plot is more simplistic than a lot of other grand science fiction, you don’t care and there’s quite a lot of universe building in this first installment of what will eventually become a six part series. There’s action, there’s swearing and shouting as well as explosive space combat. If anything, Leviathan Wakes and its sequels should grace the big screen and soon. They’d make a killing.

Rating

Absolutely fantastic introduction to the series.

Should I read this?

Like science fiction? Like action? Well, this will warm the cockles of your heart.

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