Monday, December 26, 2016

Book Review: Abaddon's Gate

Book #3 of the Expanse manages to elevate the story from a very high level to an all-time-great level. For a series so rich in plot and invention, I struggle with how to review it without spoiling it (even the first sentence of the summary of Book #4 spoiled the ultimate result of this book for me!). Suffice it to say that my minor complaints from the first two books are turned into strengths in this one: in this universe, faith is realistically important, complex enough to be both good and bad, and even crucial to what the book is saying (I actually teared up at the major character turning point of forgiveness and trust). My other minor complaint was the slow reveal of alien purposes and intelligence, but that is mostly because the characters move through so much plot (they really put you through the wringer) that the alien part of the plot seems slow by comparison. I have some hunches about how that will play out, but it's really being strung out masterfully. This whole series is a masterclass in story, and Abaddon's Gate both surprises you and ups the game at the same time while avoiding cliché yet keeping everything thoroughly grounded in the universe we know. This series is very much worth the time for the science-oriented sci-fi reader.

Book Review: The Slavery of Death by Richard Beck

This little book is poor in pages but rich in substance. Part of the reason my book-reviewing pace has been so slow over the past few months is that I read this slowly and deliberately. Beck combines the Eastern Orthodox theology of Christus Victor with the psychology of death neurosis and personal experience (both his own and that of Therese of Lisieux). The result is new and old things brought out from the starting point of the verse from Hebrews that Jesus released us from the slavery of the fear of death. The best book to pair with this volume of the Little Way is NT Wright's huge tome on The Resurrection of the Son of God. Even though on the surface they look very different, both are works through which the Spirit spoke into my life, and I can still hear the resonant echoes.