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)

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Past fiction reviews can be found here.


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
, 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