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4.3 out of 5 stars
Betrayer of Worlds (Known Space)
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Lerner and Niven continue to expand their "Worlds" franchise, in this, the fourth book. There will obviously be more. But I fear that they may have gone too far in their effort to wrap all of their old and new plot lines together. For any fan of Niven, the scene a the start of Ringworld, in which Nessus the Puppeteer recruits Louis Wu to the Ringworld expedition is one of the great episodes in the Known Space series. Now it turns out that wasn't the first time Louis Wu and Nessus met. In fact, they worked together 60 or so years earlier, when Nessus rescued Wu from the Wunderland civil war.

Wu doesn't remember that because Carlos Wu's Amazing Autodoc, which has already reconstructed Beowulf Schaeffer from just his head in Crashlander, and saved Sigmund Ausfaller several times in the "Fleets" stories, can edit memories themselves, removing chunks of a patient's memory at a Puppeteer's whim, such as knowledge of where Known Space might actually be. A thinking reader has to ask himself why Carlos Wu would have built an advanced autodoc that would permit selective editing of memories? After all, Calros might crawl in the thing some day. But that's not the biggest problem a reader is expected to ignore. Now every reader of Known Space stories has to assume that a character's memories may have selectively edited.

There's more. One of the central premises of the entire Fleets series is that no one except Puppeteers - excuse me, Citizens - knows the whereabouts of Known Space. It's central to the dilemma of the New Terra colonists, to Sigmund Ausfaller's cooperation and to Louis Wu's behavior. But a high school physics student could find known space: extrapolate backwards along the line of flight of the Fleet of Worlds for the 200 years since Puppeteers abandoned Known Space. It's not like a Kempler Rosette of planets can turn corners. Navigate there. Turn on radio equipment and listen for old episodes of "I Love Lucy."

And then there's the current crisis, the Gw'oth colony in the path of the Fleet of Worlds. What motivation did the extremely intelligent Gw'oth - the brightest characters Niven or Lerner have invented yet - to place their colony in the path of disaster?

But if you can accept the permanent loss of reliable narrators, and the suspect premise that Known Space is somehow undiscoverable, the Gw'oth colony location and that thermonuclear reactions can be suppressed by signals transmitted on radio or hyperwave; if you can buy all that, this is a pretty good yarn. I had some trouble with those premises, which is why I give the story only three stars.

And the ending is a bit of a cliffhanger, with bad guys in charge of the Fleet of Worlds, the Ringworld on the virtual horizon, Nessus in exile and the Puppeteers puppets themselves.

Something of a let down after the long-anticipated Pak battle in Destroyer of Worlds, but even a bad Niven is a treat and this is by no means a bad Niven. Just not as good as the earlier "Fleet" novels.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Not the very best of the series (needs more Ausfaller!), but still definitely well worth the read for Known Space or hard sci-fi fans.

Classic Niven (and par for the course on this overall excellent series w/ Lerner): intelligent characters, very nifty uses of the given science and technology, and a good amount of "action" driving the plot forward.

Since Louis Wu is the main protagonist in this volume and the story is set before "Ringworld", the story runs into some of the hazards of writing prequels in a widely read (and well explored) history: requirements of continuity w/ "Ringworld" forces the authors hands in some places.

That's a small complaint, only noteworthy because I've been otherwise enjoying the series immensely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
.....A nice finish leading up to the Ringworld novel.
.....I enjoyed the book and and the prior ones. This one lacked the PaK showdown that still seemed to be hanging as a threat in the prior novel but was well worth the viewing as it tied up loose ends.
.....One has to wonder whatever happened to the Gwoth in later known space books as they are never mentioned.
.....We all know Louis Wu eventually gets addicted to The Wire from the early scenes in Ringworld but with a prior addiction, a bad end to his first encounter with the Puppeteers and shodowy memories, its not surprising he went back to addictive behaviors.
.....Spoiler Alert: At the end of this book there is a data file deletion by nessus that hints at some dark prior event by the puppeteers against ringworld that had to be hidden from the Gwoth. This is prior to the original ringworld novel.
.....The puppeteers are a crazy, paranoid, jumpy herd bunch and we know that ringworld scared the hell out of them so we can guess what they did in "self defense".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ok, this one takes place a mostly out of known space, but anyone who has loved 'Neutron Star' or 'Tales of Known Space' will feel right back home again with this book. I have re-read both books many times since I was just newb and loved them every time. This book carries on in that fine tradition. I'm back in the Known Space universe with more conflicts and surprises going down. Awesome. I can't wait for the next one. (Yeah, there has to be a sequel). If you've read and loved the Known Space novels, get this one too. If you don't know what I'm talking about, get Neutron Star or Tales of Known Space and start there. Then get this one. I'm happy to be in Known Space again!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I very much enjoyed this book, but by the end, I was pretty sure that if there had been any more problems, the solution would have inevitably been to trot out Carlos Wu's autodoc. Clearly, Achilles could have been rehabilitated, if they had just thought to plop him in it :). Otherwise, very enjoyable, though clearly in the twilight of the series, as any fourth book is almost certain to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This whole series with Niven and Lerner cannot be beat and this book does not disappoint. Nessus is at his best, Achilles is as treacherous as ever and you do not see any of it coming. Niven and Lerner are excellent story developers and writers in their own right but together they are a dynamic duo! I cannot wait for the next installment.
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VINE VOICEon January 4, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a long time sci-fi fan I have all of the Ringworld books and was interested in a discussion of the origin of Ringworld; well you won't find it here. What you do find is a reasonably interesting story of alien races and racial conflict and the establishment of Louis Wu as a major player.

I had hoped to find more on Ringworld and how it came to be and thought, from the sub-title, Prelude to RINGWORLD, that this book would lead into Chapter 1 of Ringworld. That is certainly not the case and it would appear that Niven and Lerner have at least one more book planned before Louis Wu finds himself at his birthday party in Beirut as described in Chapter 1 of Ringworld. Instead of heading back to Earth, he is going in the opposite direction at the end of Betrayer of Worlds.

Having gotten that one complaint out of the way, I will say I enjoyed the book and appreciated the imagination that went into creating the various racial groups described. If you are a Ringworld fan, you will definitely want to add this one to your collection. Ringworld is a fascinating place and I still look forward to more information on how it came to be built. That could be a book all on its own as Ringworld is a very complicated place full of surprises.

In summary the book was a good read and held my attention all the way through; if you're a Ringworld fan you should add it to your collection. If you aren't familiar with Ringworld I believe you have a treat in store!
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on May 26, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In my opinion, this book is, by far, the worst of the books in the "Fleet of Worlds" sub-series of Known Space. And let's be honest, none of the "Fleet of Worlds" books holds a candle to books like Ringworld and Footfall. About halfway through the book, I almost gave up and quit reading. But I didn't, and it did get better after that (for a while, at least), only continue on to an incredibly unsatisfying ending. It almost felt like the whole book was a lead-up to a planned bit of irony, and the only reason they even wrote the book was so they could publish that one bit of irony.

The book was (marginally) enjoyable, and I don't want back those bits of my life that I spent reading it, so I can't in good conscience give it one star. But since it just barely qualified as enjoyable to me, I can't give it more than two stars.
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on December 28, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A standard sci-fi space-ships-and-aliens production, but well done as expected. Some sci-fi rises above the genre with believable personalities with psychological depth. Larry Niven's creations do not always achieve that, but some do become interesting.
No one has, I think, commented on his alien species called "Puppeteers". His imagination has created the perfect all-male homosexual society. The females are almost a separate species, with no intelligence, who serve only as meat sources for the young, being eaten from inside, after being fertilized by two males together! Much of this series of books is about the romance between two Puppeteers, Baedeker and Nessus (they take names for human's use from Greek mythology).
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on May 21, 2014
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
If Larry Niven has something to do with it, it is great SciFi. There is usually a sequence of books, and this is one of several dealing with the Puppeteers' home world, now part of a fleet of Puppeteer planets fleeing our dying galaxy at a speed terrifying to cowards, and the Puppeteers believe cowardice is a great virtue.

I like to wait until there are several available, then buy them all at once and read one or two on the plane to some Tropical Place, and then read them along with a dozen other science fiction books, on the beach, or under a palm tree, but not a coconut.
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