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Publisher's Summary

From a New York Times best-selling and Hugo award-winning author comes a modern masterwork of science fiction, introducing a captain, his crew, and a detective as they unravel a horrifying solar system wide conspiracy that begins with a single missing girl. 

Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, the Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to the Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the Universe.

The Expanse

  • Leviathan Wakes
  • Caliban's War
  • Abaddon's Gate
  • Cibola Burn
  • Nemesis Games
  • Babylon's Ashes
  • Persepolis Rising
  • Tiamat's Wrath
  • ​Leviathan Falls
  • Memory's Legion 

The Expanse Short Fiction

  • Drive
  • The Butcher of Anderson Station
  • Gods of Risk
  • The Churn
  • The Vital Abyss
  • Strange Dogs
  • Auberon
  • The Sins of Our Fathers
©2017 James S. A. Corey (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Interplanetary adventure the way it ought to be written." (George R. R. Martin)

Featured Article: 20 Best Space Audiobooks


With various galaxies, planets, and asteroids to explore—and imagine—authors have long taken to the stars for their literary endeavors. Fiction set in the realm of outer space carries a special kind of magic, with brilliant interstellar settings, bold adventurers, and unfamiliar threats. Such a vast landscape can make it difficult to pick the perfect listen; luckily, we have you covered for where to get started. Check out our list of the 20 best space audiobooks to launch your next listening experience.

What listeners say about Leviathan Wakes

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

So Good

This grabbed my attention during the prologue, and didn't let go. I have easily read 90+ full novels, though most have all been in the Star Wars universe. As much as I love my Star Wars novels, I've been wanting to expand my "space opera" collection OUTSIDE of Star Wars. I found a winner.

73 people found this helpful

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  • NH
  • 07-30-17

Started a love affair with hard sci fi

My husband and I watched The Expanse on Amazon Prime a couple of months ago. It was good but not great. I am not a hard sci fi consumer. I usually go more towards sci fi/fantasy or sci fi that is not has heavy on the sci part. I decided to check out the book that The Expanse was adapted from because the book is always better than the movie or tv series (it is a law of the universe which someday scientist will discover written with stars). I am really, really glad I did.

Leviathan Wakes is the first book in The Expanse series. The TV series uses seasons 1 and 2 to cover the story. There are significant differences between the series and the book, all of them lining up on “the book is better” side.

Leviathan Wakes takes place in mankind's future. We have spread ourselves through our solar system but have not quite reached the stars yet. There are humans living on moons of Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and in the large planetoids within the belt between Mars and Jupiter. People have been born, lived and died outside of Earth’s gravity. There are physical and cultural differences between Earthers, Martians and Belters which create a tense political situation.

The story is told from several points of view, all third person.
Julie: a poor little rich girl leaving her privileged life behind to fight for the rights of Belters
Holder: an Earther, now serving as the XO on an ice hauler
Miller: a Belter and native of Ceres who serves as a cop
Fred: an Earther and former United Nations general who now fights for the rights of Belters
Ninety-five percent is told from Holden and Miller’s viewpoints. It gives the story a much better diversity of scope than had it just been from only Earthers or Belters. There are several other characters who have large parts in the story. There is diversity in gender, ethnicity, politics, and where they call home in the solar system.

Jefferson Mays narrates this almost twenty-one hour epic. At no point did my attention lag or wonder. He really brings all the tension and wonder to life through his voice. I am currently trying to figure out how I can possible afford the rest of the series right now instead of waiting for sales or a birthday. It is just incredible. I think I may have started a love affair with hard science fiction thanks to James S. A. Corey, Andy Weir and the wonderful narrators of their books.

491 people found this helpful

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A treat for sci fi enthusiasts

I was very surprised with this book as I came in with mediocre expectations. Everything fits together perfectly from the cold and hard sci-fi universe to the flawed but interesting characters. The pacing left me dazzled; Every time my attention started to wander the book steps it up and before you know it another hour of reading has passed. The big plot puncher really marries two genres in a way other stories have failed to, and it leaves you wanting to read the rest of the series. I fell in love with this book. It's one of those books like Hyperion or Use of Weapons that you wish you could read again for the first time.

Jefferson Mays does a great job, and if you keep reading the series you will appreciate his consistency.

I highly recommend.

56 people found this helpful

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Best Sci-fi I've read in a long time

If Dune, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress had a communal baby, this would be it. Corey's descriptions of #SpaceLife and the people who live it are some of the most realistic I've ever "read." He clearly spent some time getting into the minds of people like those in his books, and wrote from a perspective that includes near-future analogues of 21st century blue collar workers, middle class families, and privileged persons. Exploration of high-level ideas of what politics might look like in the future and what practicalities would be needed to live in a place with no atmo vs small scale interactions between hard-working Belters and no less hard-working but obliviously privileged Earthers and Martians are what make Corey's world building so complete. The characters he writes are complicated and three-dimensional; his heroes have flaws, sometimes big ones. They might not even be heroes in the grand scheme of things. I really identified with Miller, and hoped (and still hope, since we're not sure if his story is over by the end of the first book) that he would find his place in the solar system, even if it wasn't with the crew of the Rocinante. My favorite "part" of the book is that the cast of characters is so diverse, culturally and physically. His fictional prediction of what it would be like to export various Earth cultures off-planet and the resulting anachronism between them paints a picture that shows long-term living in space as more than the sterilized metal hallways and fluorescent lights we're so used to seeing in "hard" science fiction.
Jefferson Mays's narration of the beginning of this epic space opera is, at first, a little annoying in the clipped pronunciation of non-dialogue text, but that doesn't last long. He's got a great grasp of pronouncing the patois the Belters use, and is consistent with said pronunciation. The characters don't have wildly different voices, which I like. YMMV. I've never been a fan of the way some narrators use a soft, simpery voice for female characters, and Mays emphatically does not do that.
Overall, I absolutely loved the book and the performance. I think it's the kind of book you could write papers about. I'm very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

100 people found this helpful

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Get through it, it is worth it.

This first entry in the series does not live up to the complexity of the TV show which really surprised me. However on its own it is still a good read. Don’t let that stop you either because the second book and following really pick up in terms of narrative and story. It does explain certain aspects of the story much better than the TV show as one would expect, just don’t expect the narrative complexity at first. Once you get past this first novel everything picks up and the story blossoms into A truly fantastic read.

33 people found this helpful

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The leviathan wakes slowly

This was a good book and not a great one. I enjoyed the reader Mr Mays. The high points of the plot and story were compelling and kept me listening. However, there are several times in the book where the protagonist spends a tremendous amount of time thinking about his life and his choices. I found these sections to be very repetitive and difficult to relate to and they were so drawn out that it made the book a bit of a slog to get through at times when it should have been exciting. I am sure some other readers will enjoy this book more than I did but I found the lead character to be inconsistent and his character development seemed shallow. By the end I didn't have the slightest desire to continue with the series but I wasn't sad I'd listened to this one. The audible portion of this was very well put together.

32 people found this helpful

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I’m in trouble!

The Expanse series has ruined me. I’ve listened to all 7 books and have started the series over because I can’t find anything else that compares! I love everything about this series and until now I didn’t know there was such a thing as space operas. I love the writing, the characters and the narrator. The Martian by Andy Weir came close, but I’ve returned everything else I’ve attempted. Either the plot wasn’t interesting or the narrator ruined it. Help! I’m addicted!

46 people found this helpful

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Addictive start and then a slump in the middle

When I started this book I could NOT stop listening. The prologue opens with a hook and I HAD to find out whatever happened to Julie. I appreciated that the story bounced back and forth from following Detective Miller for a space of time and then switching to following Holden and his crew. You got to see into their heads and their different points of view coming from very different backgrounds, which was cool. It was also interesting to see the different pieces of the puzzle fitting together, and exciting once their separate storylines finally converge.

While starting out with a bang, for some reason about 3/4 of the way through I just got tired of this book. And then I'm looking at how many books are left in the series (5 more already published, and 3 more slated to be published in the next couple of years, not counting the 1.5 type inbetweener novellas) and I was left going "Eghhhhh... Do I HAVE to finish this?" I'm glad I plugged through, because the last hour or so picked back up again. I don't feel any need to read the rest of the series, though, and feel like this first book of the series can stand alone with the way it ends and not FORCE you to read the rest of the series - specifically, no cliff-hanger ending but instead wrapped up nicely enough that it can be left alone with enough open-endedness to segway into the rest of the series should you so choose.


I listened to the Audible version narrated by Jefferson Mays, who did a great job narrating. I could tell which character was talking, and he managed to do a credible female sounding/feeling voice for the female characters that wasn't high/squeaky/awful like I've found a lot of men do. He also didn't read with the endless droning monotone that so many male fantasy/sci-fi narrators seems to bore me to tears with, so thanks, Jefferson Mays! 10/10 would listen to you again (but not this book again, sorry).

153 people found this helpful

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wonderful!

Loved this book. Best stand alone sci fi series there is. Must listen. Watch the TV show too. so good.

17 people found this helpful

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Excellent story, characters and very smart writing

I'm so glad I started this series. The writers have done a great job setting up the world and its protagonists. It does not feel campy at all like some sci-fi. It definitely has a feeling of epic-ness to it. It can expand into so many well done characters and vast universe. Writing is smart and adventurous too. Highly recommend it to readers of GoT and Hyperion. The exploration of the world could be compared to Hyperion series. In the first book, there was not too much depth to the characters yet but a good start.

The narration works well with the characters and the plot. I liked the transition from one character to another.

Definitely looking forward to the TV series too.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Johan
  • 11-08-21

excellent in every way.

Modern science fiction at its best. Well paced and with a diverse and interesting cast.

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  • ryan
  • 08-23-21

Amazing book

It was a great book took a little while to get into it and the cliffhanger didn’t have me to intrigued for the sequel, but literally everything else was so interesting. Definitely worth the credit

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  • Joshua
  • 07-17-21

loved it!

great story! each chapter gripping! :) narration was fantastic!. can't wait to read the other books in this series

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  • S W
  • 06-06-21

What a start

Heard The Expanse was good. yes it is.
Bring on book 2, can't wait to continue with the story and where it takes me.
The narrator is good and found the hour's just slipped away

1 person found this helpful

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  • Grant thompson
  • 06-04-21

Boring

Long winded, touchy freely, never ending exploration of feelings emotions and blah blah blah .... perfect for an angst driven teenage girl.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-22-21

Worth it, even if you’ve only seen the show

Excellent, well drawn characters, focussed story and brilliant world building that balances the inevitable exposition with a plot that rarely stands still. Terrific narration too.

As a fan of the show, checking out the book has been on the to-do list for a while but not a priority; I’m currently loading book 2 on extra credit. Fleshes out the world and the characters to such a degree that I’m glad I watched *first* because it could only have paled by comparison. Highly recommended.