This book is easily the best in the series.
Title: Ringworld’s Children
Author: Larry Niven
Original Publication Date: June 2004
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)