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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worst Case Scenario
For many years, in interviews and essays, Larry Niven has recognized one of the major consequences of the stories in the Known Space universe he has created. In Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven, he has postulated a doomsday explosion at the core of the Milky Way, in which a chain of supernovae has created an expanding cloud of deadly radiation and atomic...
Published on December 2, 2009 by James D. DeWitt

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Known Space is Back on Track!
Destroyer of Worlds is the third book by Niven and Lerner to extend the story of Niven's Known Space universe, following Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds.

This book deals with the threat of the Pak species introduced in Larry Niven's book "The Protector". The final migration of the Pak away from the galactic core and toward known space is fast approaching...
Published on December 14, 2009 by Juan Suros


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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worst Case Scenario, December 2, 2009
By 
James D. DeWitt "Alaska Fan" (Fairbanks, AK United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
For many years, in interviews and essays, Larry Niven has recognized one of the major consequences of the stories in the Known Space universe he has created. In Tales of Known Space: The Universe of Larry Niven, he has postulated a doomsday explosion at the core of the Milky Way, in which a chain of supernovae has created an expanding cloud of deadly radiation and atomic particles expanding from the galactic core. In Protector, he postulated the Pak, a vicious, deadly, xenophobic species - and our ancestors - located in a solar system near the galactic core. Clearly, the Pak would be visited upon Known Space. In Destroyer of Worlds, it finally happens.

Niven and Lerner may have very well written the "Worlds" series to build to this novel. Certainly, plot elements like the Gw'oth were first developed in Fleet of Worlds. But the much-abused Sigmund Ausfaller, paranoid ex-cop, must now deal with an epoch-class crisis: invasion by the migrating Pak fleets, who will not tolerate any threat, however slight, to their species; who regard every other species as an enemy that must be destroyed; and who have spread disaster and death in an expanding cone approaching the worlds of our heroes.

Ausfaller and the people of New Terra must find a way to destroy of divert an enemy that has no central command, that takes xenophobia to a whole new level, and is "scary smart" as well.

It's a great yarn, well told, and as a bonus clears up a number of plot threads that have been troubling Niven fans for decades.

But it only gets four stars because there are some points where the reader's willing suspension of disbelief gets stress-tested. Chief among those points is the idea that the enemies - there are lots of enemies - who have technology a millennia beyond ours - cannot detect the Puppeteer's Kempler Rosette of planets, even red-shifted by its velocity. Current astronomy can detect planets orbiting stars 50 light years away. I suppose it's the Rule of Plot, but the technologically advanced Pak never detect the Puppeteers' worlds.

Apart from those lapses, this is a Niven story like those we got 20-25 years ago. The combination of Niven and Lerner is greater than either alone. It's a compelling read, generally consistent with what we have always been told about Known Space (the failure of the colony of Home being one small lapse), and a terrifically plotted resolution. It's especially welcome after the relatively weak Juggler of Worlds.

Recommended; strongly recommended to fans of Larry Niven.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Known Space is Back on Track!, December 14, 2009
This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
Destroyer of Worlds is the third book by Niven and Lerner to extend the story of Niven's Known Space universe, following Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds.

This book deals with the threat of the Pak species introduced in Larry Niven's book "The Protector". The final migration of the Pak away from the galactic core and toward known space is fast approaching and as bad luck would have it the path they chose will pass through the fleet of worlds in a few years. This book is a mad scramble to deal with this threat by the species of the Fleet of Worlds and it's neighbors. The story follows several scouting and punitive missions sent out to find out how much trouble the worlds are in and what can be done about it. The technologies are all familiar from earlier books as are the characters involved. The book is well paced and the story proceeds through logical steps to tell the story, but there is a distinct lack of any excitement or tension in the storytelling.

My only real quibble with the story is the total ignorance in the Humans and Puppeteers of military tactics used in fighting relativistic foes when you have hyperdrive. Humans beat the Kzin in the early Man-Kzin wars using precisely these tactics. The Kzin had much better drives than the Pak, and possibly more ships. So why wouldn't they know about how to fight this way?

In my opinion, the authors made the Pak character and the Puppeteers much less intelligent than earlier books have implied, replacing their role in this book with the Gw'oth species introduced in the first book in this series. I guess they needed an explanation for why the Pak was unable to escape, but why not leave him in stasis?

This book is a quick read, giving another glimpse at the Known Space universe, and is a step up in quality from the previous book. The quality is around the average of the Man-Kzin wars books. Longtime Niven fans will probably enjoy it, though new readers would be better off reading some of Niven's classics.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Magic Goes Away, January 3, 2010
By 
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Larry Niven was one of my favorite SF authors in the mid to late 1970s. Interesting speculations about the impact of technology on human society, and interesting alien races were two of the strengths that characterized his writings. The Beowulf Schaeffer series, the ARM series (Gil Hamilton) and yes, even Ringworld, were solid SF triumphs by Niven.

But in the 1980s and later, Niven's writing changed, and not for the better. Part of the problem seems to be that every single thing he writes is in collaboration with some other SF author, and I really wonder how much of these titles are written by Niven. Perhaps not much, given the lack of zip that almost all of Niven's offerings of the past two decades have had.

This novel is no exception. It is lifeless and slow-moving. Pursuant to many other novels and short stories that Niven published, the Galactic Core is exploding, and the Puppeteers are moving out of the Galaxy at lightspeed. Other races are following, this time the xenophobic Pak. That is what this story is about. The novel meanders along while the protagonists try to figure out what to do about the Pak, who are threatening the Puppeteer worlds and the world of New Terra, a human client world of the Puppeteers. More would be telling, but really there is not much to tell. If the G'wok were as intelligent as this novel makes them out to be, they would solve this problem before breakfast. Highly implausible.

I gave this one two stars. Three would have been dishonest from my perspective. I respect that some of the other reviewers here have been kinder, but I cannot be. RJB.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous, November 28, 2009
This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
Although the races in this book are familiar to anyone who has read of Known Space or Ringworld, there is a rich new complexity to them all. The Pak, whose overarching militancy has only been portrayed in limited setting up till now, come to vivid life as several dominant tribes of truly deadly xenophobes who will destroy everyone in their paths, including eachother. Galactic locusts on a grand scale.

The first two books in this series were a marvelous setup for this finale. Niven and Lerner have sharpened their prose and delivered the kind of rich tapestry that the first two books only hinted at.

The Gwo'th, a new species first encountered in Fleet of Worlds, have reached out to contact the Concordance, a fact which causes great alarm for the Puppeteers. They come with some bad news: the Concordance is in the path of a tremendous invasion fleet coming at them from the galactic core. Sigmund Ausfaller, former ARM on earth, now the head of New Terra's secret police, must deal with the incoming threat using the preternaturally brilliant Gwo'th as his untrusted allies, within the delicate framework of Colonist-Concordance relations. In other words, everything is going off the rails at once.

The book also ties into, and expands upon, Niven's book Protector. For anyone who ever wondered what happened at the conclusion of that story, an epilogue of sorts is an integral part of Destroyer of Worlds.

Ausfaller has his work cut out for him. And he gets the kind of up-close and personal view of the Pak that can truly inspire a paranoid for another thousand years.

It's a real treat to read a book that so neatly balances marvels of hard science with stimulating and thought-provoking interspecies dynamics featuring dynamic characters. This book fires on all cylinders.

Compared to Ringworld, Destroyer of Worlds is a much better book, the work of two writers in their primes, though the backstory from the previous two books in the series certainly helps in enjoying this, the payoff. And the story is obviously not done yet. (SPOILER?) It's obvious that at some point in the future, Sigmund Ausfaller will become a protector. Personally, I can't wait to read about it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good "[noun] of Worlds" Book, April 4, 2010
This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
"Destroyer of Worlds" is the 3rd of Niven's & Lerner's "Before the Discovery of the Ringworld" set of books (Fleet of Worlds, Juggler of Worlds). The writing and tone are very similar to that of "Fleet of Worlds" (and, thus, better than that of "Juggler of Worlds" -- but there's no way to get to this book without having read "Juggler"). Overall, I found the book well-paced, interesting, and enjoyable. But, I do have a few quibbles with it. First, though the main plot does get tied up, it doesn't feel like a very satisfactory solution (it's a bit abrupt, given what it took to get there). Second, there are several other plot elements that are just left hanging (I wish authors would write self-contained, complete books and let their writing abilities and their universes bring readers back on their own accord). And, finally, I don't understand why the authors ignore the tremendous tactical advantages a hyperspace jumping ship would have over regular space ships in a battle. It just seems to me that dropping out of hyperspace with a high relative delta-v to another ship, dropping a rock on an intersecting path, popping back into hyperspace after a couple of microseconds in regular space, and then repeating the process as needed is a pretty obvious and strong capability. But, those are fairly small problems considering that I highly enjoyed reading the book. So, I still rate the book at a Very Good 4 stars out of 5. If you liked "Fleet of Worlds," you should like this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Series Of Books, November 26, 2010
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This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
While these novels might not rival some of Niven's earlier work, they are certainly an improvement over some of his later writing. I have enjoyed all of them and am willing to cut the author some slack. (After all, I gave him a large glass of heated brandy and seated him on a windowsill in a very high room of a hotel at a Bay Area Science Fiction Convention shortly after the publication of 'Inferno'...) ;o)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Mostly Spoiler Free Review, May 6, 2011
By 
Tony (Louisville KY) - See all my reviews
A decent read, but overall I was disappointed. Destroyer of Worlds comes nowhere near the greatness of Niven's past triumphs, such as Footfall, The Mote in God's Eye, and earlier Known Space stories such as Neutron Star.

I've read none of co-author Edward M. Lerner solo works, but I'd guess that he did most or all of the work on this novel. Why else would Niven let Lerner put his name on it?

I like the Known Space universe. Puppeteers and General Products hulls are entertaining sci-fi. There were periods of suspense that made portions of the book a page turner, and a new species was introduced that was interesting.

Those bright spots were eclipsed by important portions of the plot that made little sense to me. A certain Pak should (and could) have been Dealt With, quickly and permanently.

An (asteroid) Belter from from our Solar System, who is a capable ship pilot of interplanetary navigation, yet has absolutely not even the slightest knowledge of Earth's location realtive to the rest of the Galaxy. She hadn't had her memory wiped, like Sigmund. But apparently, she knows less about the Milky Way than the typical sci-fi reader of today.

Worse, the reader is cheated of meaningful resolution at the end of the book. The last sentence of the book could well have been "To be continued..."

I won't be reading any more of this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not Believable, August 11, 2011
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I am a big Niven fan but am really disappointed in this book. I, unlike some of the reviewers that didn't like it, felt it was exciting and well paced, by and large, but that the excitement was beyond belief. Sigmund not only keeps Thssthfok alive when it is clear that this is illogical and dangerous, he leaves him, or Eric does, alone when it is most likely he will try to escape. Then he brings him along on the last mission when it makes no sense to. Finally, while they were on the ice world setting up their stupid warning, all they had to do was stun Thssthfok to put him out of commission. That was the other thing, warn the Pak, a fleet of blood thirsty killers to 'go around' and kill other civilizations, because they didn't want blood on their own hands. Overall this book had a great plot but it suffers from not doing the work necessary to make it even half believable. In the end, Sigmund did more to protect Thssthfok and the Pak than he did to protect his own family. This does happen a lot in adventure stories, in order to carry the plot, but not to this degree of illogic. Sigmund continually acts more like a social worker than an ex-ARM agent. He doesn't come off as super paranoiac, he comes off as a super enabler.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ringworld companion series #3, March 6, 2014
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Great addition to the series. Picks up right where we left off.
Number 3 of 5:
1 Fleet of Worlds (2007)
2 Juggler of Worlds (2008)
3 Destroyer of Worlds (2009)
4 Betrayer of Worlds (2010)
5 Fate of Worlds (2012)
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1.0 out of 5 stars The logical outcome..., March 21, 2011
This review is from: Destroyer of Worlds (Hardcover)
I do not understand the preponderance of 4 and 5 star ratings given to this novel. The Pak have been driven off, but at what cost? The survivors are now aware of hyperdrive and other advanced Known Space technologies. Consider how quickly Thssthfok -- alone, imprisoned, and stripped of his tools -- still managed to reverse-engineer the principles of hyperdrive, and to develop tools to exploit vulnerabilities in General Products hulls and so forth. Now, an entire fleet of Pak have witnessed the functioning of a hyperdrive ship and, with the advanced remote-sensing devices at their disposal (yes, they -must- have such devices, otherwise how could they safely travel NAFAL?) have detected some of the unusual properties of GP hulls. Given their frightening level of intelligence, as far beyond Gwo'th intelligence as the Gwo'th are beyond human, should not the Pak be able to reproduce these technologies? And of course, they have been given reason to be angry. Basically, the logical consequence of this novel is that Known Space is doomed. This book needs to be retcon'ed out of the Known Space series.
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Destroyer of Worlds
Destroyer of Worlds by Larry Niven (Hardcover - November 10, 2009)
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