James S.A. Corey’s Leviathan Wakes is a debut novel in name only (James S.A. Corey is the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck; Abraham has authored two epic fantasy series and an urban fantasy series under yet another pen name, and Franck is the author of published short stories and assistant to George R.R. Martin), but it’s as impressive as any I’ve encountered. Book one of a planned trilogy entitled The Expanse (with possible future books to follow if the series proves successful), Leviathan Wakes is a perfect harmony of genre: a strong main space opera theme supported by elements of noir fiction and horror.
Set a few hundred years in the future when humanity has colonized the solar system (but not the stars), the story follows two viewpoint characters (not counting those in the prologue and epilogue), Miller, a down at the heels detective from Ceres station (an asteroid space station in the asteroid belt), and Holden, the executive officer of a space freighter. Corey wisely steals from George Martin (who stole in turn from William Faulkner) the narrative technique of structuring the novel in alternating viewpoint chapters titled with the corresponding viewpoint character’s name.