Caliban’s War, the second book from the series, ends with the protomolecule, the mysterious alien technology constructing a giant ring on Venus. Abbadon’s Gate picks up about a year in from where we last left the crew of the Rocinante.
Holden and his crew are doing well running their own ship and picking up odd jobs to keep themselves afloat. At this point, the protomolecule has formed a giant ring that is suspected to be a wormhole. Ships from Earth, Mars, and the OPA have stationed their warships to observe the Protomolecule.
Abaddon’s Gate introduces several new characters. The most critical that drives the plot and actually pushes Holden and the crew back into the middle of all the chaos is Clarissa Mao. Clarissa is the daughter of Jules-Pierre Mao, who blames Holden for her father’s downfall from the previous books and is determined to enact revenge and bring him down.
No matter how hard Holden tries to keep himself and his crew away from the protomolecule, a string of events conspire against his intentions, and somehow the Rocinante team finds themselves back in the thick of it all, again.
Let’s start with the characters.
In Caliban’s War, we were introduced to Avasarala and Bobbie, whose characters were incredibly compelling. Aside from Holden, three new characters relay their stories in Abaddon’s Gate; Clarissa Mao aka Melba, Anna, and Bull. Out of the three, I found Bull’s character to be the most engaging in the book. Bull is an Earther who is also an officer in the OPA. I admired his character the most due to his tenacity and commitment to do what’s right, but I felt rather detached from his story and the rest of the new characters introduced.
The setting of Abaddon’s Gate takes place mostly inside a ship. There was a lot of political drama, and while interesting, it felt a bit slow. It took a while before the story picked up. In fact, more than halfway through the 500 over paged book. I hope I’m not the only one that found Abaddon’s Gate to be slow in pace. It was a real struggle to commit to finishing this. Thank God the book picked up with some excitement past the midway mark, otherwise, I might have skipped this book entirely and gone straight to book 4.
Overall, Abaddon’s Gate fell flat for me. It was subpar and quite a departure from the first and second books. I still love the series, though, and am very much invested in the life of the Rocinante crew. I will definitely continue to read the next installment of the series, Cibola Burns.
Favourite quotes from the book:
- “Law is a many-splendored thing, Bull,” Fred said.
- “Corners and doorways. I tried to tell him. It’s always corners and doorways.”
- “You see a room full of bones, only thing you know is something got killed. You’re the predator right up until you’re prey.”
- We are bags of meat with a little electricity running through them. No ghosts, no spirits, no souls. The only thing that survives is the story people tell about you. The only thing that matters is your name.
- She’d always found deep comfort in praying. A profound sense of connection to something infinitely larger than herself. Her atheist friends called it awe in the face of an infinite cosmos. She called it God.
- Science had given mankind many gifts, and she valued it. But the one important thing it had taken away was the value of subjective, personal experience. That had been replaced with the idea that only measurable and testable concepts had value. But humans didn’t work that way, and Anna suspected the universe didn’t either. In God’s image, after all, being a tenet of her faith.
- “No rest for the wicked, no peace for the good,”
- In his experience, everyone dealt with pushing too hard differently. Some got angry and irritable, some got sad. At a guess, it was all loss of inhibition. Wear down the façade with too much work or fear or both, and whoever was waiting underneath came out.
- “Annie,” Tilly said. “If I wanted to suck vile fluids out of a flaccid and indifferent tube, I’d have stayed on Earth with my husband.”
- Holden was starting to feel like they were all monkeys playing with a microwave. Push a button, a light comes on inside, so it’s a light. Push a different button and stick your hand inside, it burns you, so it’s a weapon. Learn to open and close the door, it’s a place to hide things. Never grasping what it actually did, and maybe not even having the framework necessary to figure it out. No monkey ever reheated a frozen burrito.
- That humans only have so much emotional energy. No matter how intense the situation or how powerful the feelings, it was impossible to maintain a heightened emotional state forever. Eventually, you’d just get tired and want it to end.
- “Doors and corners. Never walk into a crime scene until you know there’s not someone there waiting to put you down. You’ve got to clear the room first. But maybe we got lucky. For now. Wouldn’t recommend doing it again, though.”
- “…you can’t macho your way through it.”
- You don’t ask for permission. You ask for forgiveness echoed in her head.
- The truth was, distance was always measured in time.
- Grief makes people crazy, Bull thought. Grief and guilt and embarrassment all together maybe did worse.
- “But did you come out here to win medals or to do the right thing?”
- Heroism is a label most people get for doing shit they’d never do if they were really thinking about it.
- Humans do bad things when they’re afraid, and we’re all very afraid right now.
- Nothing ever killed more people than being afraid to look like a sissy.
- “Either way, I’m dead.” “Yes. But one will only be a death. The other will have meaning.”
- Cut an Earther or a Belter, they both bled the same blood. Crack an access panel on the Behemoth and the Prince, and both ships had the same crappy brownout buffers.
- Violence is what people do when they run out of good ideas. It’s attractive because it’s simple, it’s direct, it’s almost always available as an option. When you can’t think of a good rebuttal for your opponent’s argument, you can always punch them in the face.
- There’s a difference between tragedy and evil, and I am that difference.
- She felt that politics was the second most evil thing humanity had ever invented, just after lutefisk.