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Reviews of Ringworld Throne, the (1996)

Review by mrdude (2005-02-11)
The Ringworld Throne, the Third book in the Ringworld Series by Larry Niven starts off ten years after the previous book in the series, although there is a short prologue included that occurs only one year prior to Ringworld Engineers.

Disappointment would a good word to describe this book in my opinion. I thought I had read this title before but upon completion I can't see how I could have subjected myself to this twice. Needless to say this book really was not even close to the quality as it's precursors.

I suppose my main difficulty with the book was the lack of my favorite character, Louis Wu. I'm not saying he wasn't in the book, but he certainly was not the most important character in the book. Heck, I have no clue what Niven was trying to do with this book! The novel seems to center around a lot of aliens on ringworld but sadly Niven fails to expand the depth of their characters to fit such roles. None of the plot lines in the book were resolved either. It seemed to me that this work spent an enormous amount of time building multiple plot lines only to have them forgotten about and never coincide wholly with the new problems that interrupted them.

Another big problem is Niven's growing obsession with rishathra (which is inter- species sexual acts). He spends nearly half the book moving characters around just so they can have sex with with each other. If that weren't bad enough Niven seemed to be unable to write anything actually about rishathra. He spent a large part of the book explaining how each character was participating in such acts but failed to actually include the action in the book. I was already mad that the author talking about a subject matter that would fit better in playboy, but his inability to write about such things produced hundreds of pages of "And then they had rishathra"

The writing in this piece was not up to par with many of Niven's works I have read. He didn't seem to be putting much effort into this book at all. The dialogue was not inventive and in fact at times Niven reverted to simply putting a characters name followed by a colon followed by the text they spoke. This was not done in an interesting way way either, it was simply distracting, irritating and not very entertaining to the reader. The only reason I can come up for why Niven would do such a thing would be out of sheer laziness. The narrative was also sub par. I found myself reading entire sections that were nothing but long lists of things that occurred. The overall feeling I got from this was, look at all the new crazy ideas and situations I can come up with. That would have been great if Niven had actually taken the time to write about them, rather than list them haphazardly is some needless sequel.

So to summarise, this book really lacked all the qualities that made the previous ringworld series great. It did not have the feel of a good Niven masterpiece, but instead felt like something he put out to shut simply to satisfy his publisher. I'm sure it worked beautifully, but as the reader is concerned, this is not anything of quality.

(Review also posted at the IBDoF)

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