Overview (No Spoilers):
Timiat’s Wrath’s ending exchange was so intriguing I broke my cardinal rule of never reading books in a series back to back. I honestly couldn’t resist. I’ve been leisurely reading The Expanse series since 2018 and I have a hard time reconciling that my adventure with Holden and crew has finally come to an end. Thinking back to Leviathan Wakes, I find myself so appreciative of Corey’s ambition in evolving this literary world from an initial conflict between Earth and Mars to taking story places I never would have anticipated.
In Leviathan Falls, the fall of the Laconian Empire has resulted in mass chaos, both in the Ring Gate and throughout the thirteen hundred systems. Laconia is grasping at strings, increasingly desperate to hold onto some semblance of power, especially with Duarte still in his fugue state. The conflict between humans seems increasingly petty as a larger, unknown power starts to tinker with the laws of physics in an attempt the annihilation of mankind, much as they did with the protomolecule. The most dangerous threat to humanity yo-yos many times throughout Leviathan Falls depending on the perspective. This dance of survival only becomes more complicated when Duarte snaps out of his fog, having leveled up with his understanding of the protomolecule, before promptly disappearing with a plan that threatens what it means to be an individual. Can the crew of the Rocinante find a way to save the worlds yet again with death looming on so many different fronts?
This concluding installment was everything and more I could have hoped for, though I spent 90% of this read thinking it was the penultimate novel in a genuine misunderstanding. During a key exchange that had a heavy air of finality, it dawned on me that I was reading a fantastic finale, and after a quick Google search to confirm my suspicions, Leviathan Falls was transformed, lending new weight to every interaction and battle sequence.
With an unknown enemy that wields far advanced technology remaining an enigma after Laconia prodded it awake, Elvi is shoved to the front and center. She is desperately trying to come up with a scientific solution and hoping for a miracle to save everyone by delving into the history of the protomolecule. Caving to the pressure and limited time, Elvi begins to compromise her ethics in the process, decision by well intended decision. As a scientist, I could empathize with her dilemma, as in grad school there were notorious legends of disgraced former students who compromised their own integrity due to the demands of school. Corey captured this pressure perfectly with Elvi’s internal dialogue, when paired with her husband’s queries, which were used as a touchstone. Her excuse for compromising her morals is the lofty ideals of the survival of mankind, though these decisions weighed on Elvi to the point her health suffers. Thankfully Corey has the perfect resolution waiting in the wings.
At this point we have been with the core of the cast since the beginning and Corey has layered them with so much depth that just one word can speak volumes. While we have experienced loss throughout the series, the crew has routinely been a haven for lost souls, so it should be no surprise that the Rocinante became a home for Teresa and her dog, much like it did for Clarissa Mao.
I will genuinely miss all of the crew, but with this being the culminating novel, their fates were not as secure as they might normally. Especially with Colonel Tanaka tracking them down Teresa and out for revenge against Holden. Tanaka was a fantastic addition to this last book as she was a wildcard you could never quite predict, making for a high intensity, suspenseful final sequence. She is complicated with her own agenda, skewed by revenge though sidetracked by protecting her own identity and secrets.
One more character makes a return at the end of Leviathan Falls, who was a complete blast from the past. It was a brilliant addition that helped bring this story to a close, while reminding us of where we started. I won’t reveal who it is but I couldn’t help but smile, brimming with nostalgia at almost every interaction he had.
Overall, I can’t imagine a better ending to The Expanse series in Leviathan Falls. I cried, but I laughed more, all the while being held captivated by the ever mounting suspense followed by a heartbreaking ending on more than one front. A phenomenal series as a whole that every science fiction lover should embark upon immediately.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- What system was Merrel from? What has Earth been through post ring closure? How did Naomi, Teresa, and others die?
- I think I actually did a physical happy dance when Miller showed up again!
- I kept wanting Jim to somehow end up alive by the end, though he’s escaped death so many times that it was only fitting. I wonder if he is still out there somewhere.
- What will Trejo do now that Laconia is closed off from the rest of the systems? It is hard to comprehend the horrors that James Holden sentenced so many people to by closing the Ring Gate, though it ultimately saved humanity. The confusion also following the closing of the Ring Gate would have been profound as so many people would have been cut off from family, friends, and critical supplies without a reason or warning.
- What was the purpose of the repair drones and why/how did they save the two children and Amos? Were there others saved in the time after the Ring Gate closed?
- If Duarte hadn’t been corrupted and convinced of linking humanity, what insight could he have given regarding the protomolecule’s advanced technology?
- Are Xan and Cara still alive with Amos in the epilogue?
- I ugly cried when Alex left Amos and Naomi for the last time. Did he make it to see his grandchild?
Fantastic review! It really was fitting for Jim to die at the end even though it killed me. Amos has always been my favourite character, so yelled in triumph when I read the epilogue.
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I strongly agree. They really stuck the landing on the series.
I’d lost interest in the series a few years ago and suddenly had a hankering for more at the end of last year. I read the last three books in the series back to back. Worth it!