Book Review – “Ringworld’s Children”

This book is easily the best in the series.

General Information

Title: Ringworld’s Children

Author: Larry Niven

Original Publication Date: June 2004

ISBN: 0-765-30167-9

Cover Price: $24.95 US, $34.95 Can (hardcover; paperback not yet announced)

Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

Past fiction reviews can be found here.

Premise

This picks up exactly where Ringworld Throne left off, but with a very different tone and feel to it. Various factions in Known Space are now aware of the Ringworld. The puppeteer ships Louis and friends rode in on was much faster than the normal ships, but we knew they’d get there eventually. Now, they have.

High Point

I’ve had a big “What if..” floating around in my head for this series since I first read Ringworld Engineers. Well, it happens, just in time for chapter 19. There are only 22 chapters, so you can see how late in the book that is. I won’t spoil it further than I already have. That was a big one for me.

Low Point

I was hoping to read more about Seeker, having read the post to the larryniven-l e-mail discussion list that got Larry Niven’s brain working toward this final product.

The Scores

This is a very new direction for Ringworld novels. New politics, new events, new style, new emphasis on action, a new cast of characters (which is less packed that Ringworld Throne, so getting to know them quickly isn’t a problem) and some new puzzles help things out. Seeing new regions of the Ringworld itself helps too. This feels like the most original entry in the series since the first book. I give it 6 out of 6.


The imagery is well done. The variety of locations is restricted, so we can get the descriptions without bogging down the text. Areas described in previous books are barely described here, which makes sense, since you’d need to have read those other books to really understand what’s happening here anyway. It’s the action that gets the description more than the locations, and that’s very clear. I give it 6 out of 6.

The story is excellent. The puzzles to solve are still in here, as is the exploration, as is the adventure. This was extremely well done. I give it 6 out of 6.



The characterization is fairly well done. A couple of the new characters take time to form, and some of them could use more backstory to explain, but the old ones are well handled, and some of them show clear growth. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response was fantastic even before I hit that moment I’d been waiting years for. I give it 6 out of 6.

The editing is nice and tight. We get the puzzle pieces and the important story bits with nothing excess left behind. On a technical and mechanical level, I see no flaws. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, I think this is the best in the Ringworld series by a very comfortable margin. Definitely worth picking up if you’ve read the others. If you haven’t, read them and then get this one. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Ringworld’s Children receives 41 out of 42.

Additional Notes and Comments

After reading this, I want to go back and reread my other Niven works. I’ve already reviewed Protector and the other three Ringworld books. Do you kind folk have any preferences for which one I review next? (The option are listed here; that list is alphabetized by author, and then roughly sorted by when the stories within take place within Niven’s Known Space and other series. I’ve got all of Known Space save Man Kzin Wars X, as those books haven’t impressed me enough to get the hardcovers. The paperback is due next spring, so I’ll wait until then.)

5 replies on “Book Review – “Ringworld’s Children””

  1. is says:

    not read yet…
    But Niven has long been my favorite sci-fi author. I may have to put the ringworld series back in my queue.

    Have you read/reviewed “The Integral Trees”? I always liked that one if you haven’t.

    • fiziko says:

      Re: not read yet…

      Have you read/reviewed “The Integral Trees”? I always
      liked that one if you haven’t.

      I’ve read it, but not reviewed it yet. I’ve also read
      “The Smoke Ring” without reviewing it. It doesn’t look
      like “The Ghost Ships” will ever be finished.

      • jesusX says:

        Re: not read yet…

        It doesn’t look
        like “The Ghost Ships” will ever be finished.

        I’m somewhat glad about this. LArry has had the idea for this third novel or years, but as he’s said, he’s never been happy with where the story has taken him so far. while I’d love to see what happens, Larry won’t write a book for the sake of writing it. If he doesn’t feel it will be a good story, he just won’t do it, unlike many other authors who become legends in their genre. Sure, Ringworld Throne wasn’t so hot, but I found that if you skip certain chapters it’s still a pretty good story after all. So, even Niven’s relative “stinkers” are still good by other authors’ standards. I’d rather have Larry not write a certain story/book because it isn’t up to his standards, than write it and have it suck. So far, there are only a few books with Larry’s name on them I dislike, and every one of them was a collaboration (so in my mind I can blame the other author!), although to be clear, many of his collaborations were also great.

        Second, I haven’t had the chance to buy RC yet, but I read the first couple chapters in the bookstore, and yes, I’d say it’s more fantastic Niven writing.

        Third, Destiny’s Road is a killer book. People who don’t like it have brain damage. ;)

        Fourth, another writer I have found to be equal in caliber to Larry is Lois McMaster Bujold with her Vorkosigan Saga books. Just a note for other Niven fans. :)

  2. waltnat says:

    Thanks
    Thanks for the review. I was unaware that this existed, now I need to add another book to the queue.

  3. chad says:

    Slashdot Review
    Weirdly enough, there happens to be another review of this book on slashdot.

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