Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Review by JD: Betrayer of Worlds ~ by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner



It’s Release Day for Betrayer of Worlds ~ and we have a review!

A fantastic science fiction novel, with a nicely complex plot involving intrigue among humans and three alien races.

John’s Blurb:  The plot evolves around the Puppeteers, a highly advanced race that is guiding its “Fleet of Worlds” away from a supernova chain reaction at the core of the galaxy. The problem is, well, there are lots of problems. There is an insanely ambitious Puppeteer who will stop at nothing to achieve his goal of ruling the Puppeteer worlds; there is a strange race of starfish-like creatures whose capabilities and technologies are advancing at a stunning speed; there is another race of aliens fleeing the galactic core, who are inherently warlike and genocidal; and there is a lonely outpost of humans who, while far weaker than the three alien civilizations, possess qualities that might just be able to help prevent all-out war.

Then there is the really neat twist – while the Puppeteers have developed a fantastically advanced civilization and some amazing technologies, they are inherently cowards. With an overwhelming herd instinct, they are supremely conservative and everything they do is guided by an overpowering need to protect “the herd”.

Stirred up by some callous and sociopathic political plotting, the races seem to be on an inevitable collision course that will have horrific consequences.

John’s Thoughts:  If you are a Niven aficionado, you might like to know that this novel is a prelude to “Ringworld”, his Hugo and Nebula award winning classic from 1970. If you are not, no big deal; the novel stands on its own with a beginning and a proper ending. (Though there are plenty of hooks that you know will be picked up in future novels – Niven is a prolific writer).

This is a clever story. There is some wonderful imagination behind the various alien races, and there are plenty of interesting details that flesh out the strange beings and the worlds that they inhabit. The super-advanced technology is well-imagined and has a plausible feel to it. Some of the concepts are really neat; in particular I just love the idea of an all-powerful race of beings who, individually, are all cowards. The plot itself is nicely complex with a variety of twists and turns. There are some strong characters that are well-developed. And, here is a first for me in a sci-fi novel, there is a map (of the interstellar variety) that helps you to piece together the relationships between the worlds and some of the major plot elements.

If I had to be picky about the book, I’d say that in places there is almost too much going on. Many times I found myself digging back through the book in order to better understand what was happening. This was not helped by the plethora of alien character names. That’s often a challenge with books like this – while it would be wrong to give all the aliens earthly human names, giving them overly complex alien names can turn the read into something of a memory test.

But those are minor points. I enjoyed the read and I’d rate this book 4 stars. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good science fiction novel. And if sci-fi is not normally your thing but you enjoy some political intrigue with strong characters, you might want to give this a go.


If your interested in publishers information please see Layers of Thought’s speculative preview listing for Betrayer of Worlds.

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Science Fiction
  • Amazon purchasing links for US/UK/Canada.

As always John/JD will be addressing all comments. So don’t forget to click the follow up box to get his response. He has actually read the first in Niven’s Ringworld series of which this is the prequel, “a long long time ago” so would enjoy a refresher on the book via your comments.

Happy release day to the authors!

Thanks for reading. 


esh said...

The biggest revelation for me was that Ol't'ro is Chrion! What are your thoughts about this? What can this mean for a other installment in this series? During the ringworld expeditions, and even luweewu's next visit to hearth, the Gwo'th are there the whole time! And yet the puppeteers still see to their own affairs. Is there space for a other installment? Where does Nessus go? I feel I may be forgetting something from the beginning of ringworld.

John D said...

Hi Esh,
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good questions - but sadly I have no answers or views! I read Ringworld itself *many* years ago, but haven't read any of the other novels in the known space/Ringworld series until this one. So I'm missing quite a few pieces. One thing I do know - in a series like this there is always room for more installments.

Edward M. Lerner said...

Oh, there's most definitely room for another installment :-)

John D said...

Hi Edward,
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Looks like I have some catching up to do, so I look forward to more installments.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...