The Ringworld Throne (1996)
Once again, Larry Niven returns to Known Space and its most marvelous artifact, the fabulous Ringworld. He shouldn't have. If you ask for opinions about this novel on the net, you will probably be told that it's a stinker. Now, that sounds a bit harsh, but the book is indeed sadly uninspired.
The novel separates into two only tenuously related halves. The first part tells of a Machine People expedition teaming up with Grass Giants and various other hominid species to fight a vampire infestation. A straightforward, not exactly exciting story. Interwoven is an episode about the aging Louis Wu and the puppeteer Hindmost. The second part of the book is teeming with protectors wrestling for control over the Ringworld, or poetically phrased, who is going to sit on the throne of the Ringworld. The plot is aimless, the climax most unclimactic.
Inventing protectors was a fun idea for one-shot book like Protector, but taking the idea for serious and integrating it into the Known Space universe, along with Niven trying to retrofit new explanations, nanotech, etc., has turned into one big mess.
The novel has an undue obsession with rishathra, i.e. sex with other hominid species for non-reproductive purposes. This is just pointless and silly. Whatever it was, excessive cross-species sex can't have been the reason for Niven's falling-out with Elf Sternberg over the Journal Entries, which started out as Ringworld stories. In this unfortunate book, Niven's usually transparent style isn't, and his sly wit has disappeared, too.
Disappointing. Don't bother.
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