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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting return visit to a fascinating world
Reviewing a book, especially a novel, is a supremely subjective undertaking - and reading the reviews of Larry Niven's "Ringworld Throne" posted here is proof of that. Personally, although I would certainly not rate it as equal to the original "Ringworld" or even the first sequel, I enjoyed the book and kept reading intently right through the end. I have been reading...
Published on June 3, 2000 by Bruce Trinque

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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A pointless, directionless sequel
Larry Niven's Ringworld (1970) is one of the truly great SF novels. A crew of four, comprising Louis Wu, a cynical, 200-year-old man; Teela Brown, a young woman bred for luck; Speaker-to-Animals, an aggressive, cat-like Kzin; and Nessus, a Pierson's Puppeteer, a technologically advanced race whose highest virtue is cowardice. The four of them go exploring on a recently...
Published on May 22, 2004 by RansomOttawa


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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A pointless, directionless sequel, May 22, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
Larry Niven's Ringworld (1970) is one of the truly great SF novels. A crew of four, comprising Louis Wu, a cynical, 200-year-old man; Teela Brown, a young woman bred for luck; Speaker-to-Animals, an aggressive, cat-like Kzin; and Nessus, a Pierson's Puppeteer, a technologically advanced race whose highest virtue is cowardice. The four of them go exploring on a recently discovered artifact: a gigantic ring a million miles wide and as big around as Earth's orbit.
The sequel, The Ringworld Engineers (1980), starts twenty years later, with Louis Wu and Speaker (now known as Chmeee) returning to the Ringworld with the Hindmost, the deposed leader of the Puppeteers, to find a supposed transmutation device that the Hindmost thinks will help restore him to power. Along the way they discover various alien civilizations, Vampires (non-sentient, blood-eating hominids), and Ghouls (eaters of the dead who trade in information). They also learn that the orbit of the Ringworld has become eccentric and it will destroy itself in a matter of years unless they can save it.
And then . . . there's The Ringworld Throne, where the only mystery yet to solve is, apparently, "Who are you, and what have you done with the real Larry Niven?" To say that Throne is a disappointing sequel is an understatement.
The story picks up about a year after The Ringworld Engineers leaves off. Louis Wu and his motley crew are still stranded on the Ringworld after human-turned-Pak-protector Teela buried their spaceship under tons of lava. Unfortunately, Niven has changed a major premise of the last book. Engineers ended with an unthinkable moral dilemma: whether to allow the Ringworld and its trillions of occupants to be destroyed, or save it at the cost of several hundred million lives. This should weigh mighty heavily on Louis Wu's mind, but Niven lets him off the hook: the Hindmost announces that he could control the Ringworld's meteor defenses more precisely than anticipated, and thus was able to minimize the deaths. Had this been revealed at the end of Engineers it would be a hideous deus ex machina. As it is, it's just very sloppy writing; Niven conveniently no longer has to deal with a more complex protagonist.
From here, Throne is basically two intertwined but generally unrelated stories. The first deals with an infestation of Vampires. Louis Wu is legendary on the Ringworld for once boiling an ocean to destroy a field of mirror sunflowers (which kill their prey by focusing sunlight on it and burning it). The resulting cloud cover cut off their light. However, one unintended consequence of this feat is a never-ending overcast sky, ideal for the spreading of Vampires. This, Niven gets right; all actions, however noble, may have unintended side effects that are not so good. The resulting battle between the locals and the Vampires drives about two-thirds of the novel's action.
It's unfortunate that the vast majority of this action involves neither the principal characters nor the mysteries of the Ringworld itself. The appeal of the Ringworld novels is directly proportional to the amount of time Louis Wu spends exploring it. Instead we are treated to four or five different species of hominids comprising thirty-odd interchangeable individuals with unpronounceable names, alternately fighting vampires and "rishing" with each other (i.e. inter-species sex for the sake of binding contracts or forging friendships). It's monotonous, and in the end, there's no payoff. No more of the Ringworld's mysteries are revealed.
Meanwhile, Louis Wu and the Hindmost are investigating why the Ringworld's remaining Pak protectors are destroying incoming ships and interfering with species other than their own. This part of the novel is completely incomprehensible, and I won't even attempt to explain what goes on. It doesn't help that the majority of the action is viewed through telescopes, communication devices, and so forth. Finally, we get to follow the principal characters around, and the story is a mess.
This novel reveals nothing new about the mysteries of the Ringworld, nor does it develop the characters or the series' plot any further. If Ringworld's Children can't make sense of all this, then sadly one of the great hard-SF world ends not with a bang, but a whimper.
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51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Niven confirms your suspicions, December 27, 2004
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
The original Ringworld left a number of unanswered question that Ringworld Engineers attempted to answer. But by the end of Engineers one got the sneaking suspicion that Niven had pretty much exhausted his store of ideas for this world. Ringworld Throne only manages to confirm your suspicions that Ringworld is played out as a theme.

Engineers did leave one wonderful hook: the kzin plans to conquer earth. What is an earth conquered by the kzinti like? The book starts off with the Louis and the cat man sailing to the Ringworld earth to fulfill his dream but then the book veers off to follow the trials and tribulations of a caravan of boring Ringworld denizens. It becomes Ringworld meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Ten chapters in you begin to wonder why he wrote this book. People tramp around with little direction and kill vampires. Every third page one finds a little discussion on interspecies sex. You begin to wonder when Niven stopped being an innovative thinker and became a dirty old man, sweaty palms on a typewriter thinking sci fi fan boys still want this stuff. Newsflash, Lar. The fan boys have moved on to much "better" Japanese tentacle sex magna.

It's bad stuff from an author who should know better. It reads like Niven outsourced the whole project to Kevin J Anderson and never rises above Anderson's dial-a-novel method of cranking out bad sci fi.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Even One Star Is Too Much for This Awful Book, February 11, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
I first read Ringworld 31 years ago, in the first edition that has Earth rotating in the wrong direction, and have reread it at least half a dozen times since then, each time with enormous pleasure. Today I see no reason to change my judgment that it is one of the 3 or 4 best science-fiction novels ever written.
If it were the only book Larry Niven had ever written, he would be remembered for it the way Walter Miller is remembered for A Canticle for Lieberwitz. But he followed it up the following year with Protector, which is nearly as good. And over the years he's written dozens of excellent short stories, especially those in Neutron Star.
Ten years after Ringworld, Niven wrote a belated sequel, Ringworld Engineers, which seemed curiously lifeless compared to the first one but which was still a competent, even interesting, job of carrying on where the first one left off. No one will ever argue that it is even one of the 500 best SF books ever written, but it was intelligent, intelligible, and added some interesting new ideas to the original Ringworld concept.
Then, seventeen years or so after Ringworld Engineers, Niven wrote (or programmed) this miserable third book in the series. The writing is so desultory, so ambiguous, so unclear, along with most of the action, that you actually begin to wonder if maybe he punched a number of coordinates into a super-intelligent writing program and then sat back to let it do the rest.
There are so many things wrong with this as a piece of fiction that I won't bother to enumerate them -- most of the other reviewers here have already done so. What I will say is this: if you haven't already read BOTH of the earlier Ringworld books, perferably several times, this book will make absolutely no sense at all. Even with the other books fresh in your memory it will STILL be difficult to understand, so cursory is the writing, the plotting, the description of characters and motivation. The last 20 pages or so, which describe an epic battle between various mysterious characters high on the edge of the Ringworld, are so opaque as to defy comprehension. Who is doing what to whom, and why?
And who cares, for that matter...?
It's a terrible shame -- at his best (in my own opinion, before he fell under the baleful influence of Jerry Pournelle and the apparently irresistible pleasures of collaboration), Larry Niven was a GREAT science fiction writer. But this tedious book hardly deserves one star --...
Let's hope that this is the low point of his career....
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Surely this can't be Larry Niven!, December 26, 2002
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
First off-I love Niven's work. I got hooked on him about a year ago when I read Ringworld. After that, I went back and read the entire Known Space series in a rough chronological order. This series is very good.
However, about 100 pages into Ringworld Throne, I had to log into this site and look up the reviews to make sure I hadn't landed in the Twilight Zone. Sure enough, most people had come to the conclusions I had...this book is horrible.
First off, he uses too many rediculously long names with shallow characters that you can't possibly keep track of (the cast of characters in the back of the book might help with this). About 30 pages in, I found myself just skipping over the names and trying to get an idea of where he was going with the plot.
Second, the narrative is so disjointed and difficult to read it is hard to believe this is the person who created the astounding original Ringworld novel.
It is very rare that I do not finish a book, but after 100 pages, I just couldn't stand it any longer.
Sorry Larry...this book hurt. Despite the love I have for your work, this novel receives one star.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yeow, this is bad, September 1, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
Remember the original Star Trek series? Remember where most of the *best* episodes took place ? Out in space, doin' space stuff, right? Remember where the *worst* episodes took place? On some planet, amongst the dull, boring natives, right?
Well, that's what we have here - an entire "planet"-based episode. Actually more a soap opera as we watch the various Ringworld species fight each other, because?, because??, I guess because there's no TV is the only thing I can think of. When not fighting they're having inter-species sex. Sounds interesting you say? Not every other page it isn't. Niven's clearly fascinated by this, for no good reason I can see.
Then there's the native species - each one more contemptible than the next. Our major characters are Ghouls, vampires, flesh eaters, and the like. Among them there's no group, no individual we (appalled readers) can root for. Yeah, I'm hoping the vampires beat the ghouls, 'cause those ghouls, boy they're bad.
There's token appearances by a Kzin, and I think even Louis Wu was dragged into this. But, were this a movie, the actors portraying them would be on the set two days max., and phoning in the voice-overs.
Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers are great books - buy them, read them. But this, this, this is total, embarrassing crap.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Stop Reading Before its Too Late, November 18, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
The 'professional' reviews for this book are much too kind.
Compared to Ringworld and Ringworld Engineers, Throne is a major disappointment through and through. I just kept slogging along through the unreadable narrative, uninteresting characters with unpronounceable names whizzing by my head, looking forward to every sensible moment with Louis and the Hindmost. I only finished reading it because the Protectors storyline finally started to get my interest in the end.
I should have stopped reading at page 100.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Embarrassingly terrible, February 22, 2007
By 
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This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
The third (and final, thank god) installation in the Ringworld series falls so far short of its predecessors that it leaves an unfortunate stain on the entire trilogy, which up to book 3 has been remarkable in the world of science fiction. Ringworld Throne left me so confused and angry that I'm not quite sure what to warn potential readers to expect, but here are a few that topped my list:

- The plot makes no sense at all. The entire thing is so disjointed, badly pieced together, and overall just poorly written it makes you wonder if Niven even put any effort into the book, or was just looking for some easy money. The first half is horrendous, focusing on a group of Ringworlders fighting some vampire infestation. Every character is completely flat and lifeless, and the vampire hunting episode does not fit at all into the overall plot of the book, despite the fact it fills half the pages. I skimmed through so many of the pages its ridiculous. Awful, awful, awful.

- There is absolutely no reason to give characters such absurd names. All it does to make up 13 syllable names is piss the reader off. Just stop it.

- Rishanthra is fricken stupid. Why so much focus on it? How does sex between species allow trade and communication between them? It just makes no sense, and it's really lost its novelty by this point. It comes up so often it makes Niven look like a sex-crazed teenage nerd who really doesn't know anything about sex at all.

- The "ending", if you can call it that, resolves nothing, and frankly doesn't make any sense. I know this goes back to my problem with the overall plot, but really: the ending is terrible. What happens to Louis? The ARM ships? Hindmost? Does anyone really care at this point?

- Action scenes are so terrible it makes the plot look sensible. Anytime something major happens (e.g. battle scene) I find myself rereading the paragraph 3 times and still having no idea what the hell is going on. Niven's writing is so hacky in some areas it makes me furious.

Well, I think you get the idea. I highly reccommend against this book, it was such a waste of time. Even if you loved Ringworld Engineers, I can almost guarentee you will hate this one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The "huh?" monent, October 17, 2000
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
I don't know why, but I have found that almost every Niven book I've read has at least one part where I scratch my head and say What the ... just happened/This isn't making any sense: i.e. sometimes when the action gets going too fast, Niven seems to skimp on the necesarry info, and I'm left wondering what went on. Normally these moments are few and far between, easilly forgotten, and don't distract from the rest of the book because it is simpliy so damn good... But TRT just had too many "huh?" moments, especially the battle between vampires at the end; for 30 pages or so, I was wondering what was going on, who was doing what, who was allied with who, and why they were doing what they were doing. It was considerably more confusing even than my last sentance. There were a number of other parts of this book that didn't make a whole lot of sense either. However, it was readable and exciting for the most part, and if you've read the first two books, there's no way you're not going to read it. Just be prepared to be puzzled.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unpleasant Surprise, August 11, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
Having read just about every science fiction novel with Larry Niven's name on the cover, I was sure that Ringworld Throne could not be as bad as the reviews.
I was wrong.
If there was a plot, I could not find it: or it may have been all twists.
The introduction and reintroduction of various species and characters progressed nicely from the previous novels, but there was limited development.
And with as much sex as there was in this novel, there was no climax. Or it was premature since most of the interesting stuff happened early.
There were almost no engineering goodies and the other inhabitants of "Known Space" were shot down before they got close.
This was a sorry effort. Maybe it's time to pass this series on to other authors.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "How does your race handle Rishathra?", October 22, 2006
By 
Eric D. Austrew (Brookline, MA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ringworld Throne (Mass Market Paperback)
Imagine a ring around a star. A ring shaped like a giant canal, with sides high enough to keep an earthlike atmosphere in, and a floor covered over with dirt and teeming with billions, even trillions of beings spread out over a surface area greater than all the planets in our solar system. The very concept of Ringworld is so cool that it gives any book set there an extra star. In spite of this, I give it only two stars, which should tell you how bad everything except the setting is.

First, there is the constant, and distracting, obsession with alien sex. The concept of "rishathra"- sex between races- is mentioned at least once in every scene involving non-humans. It is the focus of many conversations that do nothing to move the plot forward. And when Niven describes it you get the distinct impression of a thirteen year old nerd trying very hard to be as blasé as James Bond. ("Ho hum, the aliens are having sex, I've certainly seen this before, let's watch!") Niven is thus entered onto the list of sci-fi writers who manage to make sex completely uninteresting. Indeed, I'd say he's so bad at it that he might even dethrone Robert Heinlein from the top of that list.

Second, the plot itself is convoluted and makes very little sense. The book jumps back and forth between a group of aliens who make a trek across the Ringworld and Louis Wu, a human trapped on the artificial construction who must battle to save it from a weird alien menace. However, the aliens could easily have been eliminated from the book - as far as I could see there was no connection between them and the main Louis Wu storyline. Not that the main storyline was anything to write home about. The weird aliens were all battling each other for the privilege of saving the Ringworld, so I'm not exactly sure where the sense of menace was supposed to be coming from. Add to that the haphazard introduction of a new character halfway through the book and the gimmicky deus ex machina resolution, and the plot entirely fails to deliver.

It should be noted that this is the third - or perhaps even fourth- book in the Ringworld series, so longstanding fans may not be as confused as the reader who is picking it up for the first time. But whether you are a fresh reader or an old fan, my recommendation would be to stay away.
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The Ringworld Throne
The Ringworld Throne by Larry Niven (Mass Market Paperback - May 1997)
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