|Submitted by Mike Montgomery |
(Oct 10, 2005)
Niven conjurs up some of the most imaginative characters I have ever read, but even they aren't quite enough to earn this book a place in the SF Masterworks collection. Of course that's only my opinion, and no doubt many will disagree with me, but looking back over the book it felt a little empty.
Louis Wu, a 200 year old man living in a future world, is the main character. A series of odd and unlikely events brings him and the other 3 characters together (only one of which is human - the other two are fascinating aliens that really make the read that much more interesting. Kudos to Niven for his imagination). The story moves along and they set off on their journey to Ringworld, but that's only the beginning as the majority of the book is actually on the Ringworld itself. Although it can be very interesting, at parts it can also be a little tedious, and sometimes you may find yourself having to re-read over certain passages to grasp what's going on - though in honesty it's not often, and for the most part it's very enjoyable, easay reading.
I feel that Niven goes beyond himself a little in the sense that he creates a world millions of times the size of earth - all through the book emphasising it's grand, unthinkable scale - and in the end it's quite beside the point. In fact, the end is what really let me down the most. Niven seems to be building up to something all the way through the book - right until the ending chapters - and when it finally does come you don't feel all that satisfied. Sure there's a good twist and some of your questions are answered, but then many of them aren't, and for a Masterworks I think Ringworld could have generally been a bit better. Perhaps it was too predictable, or the world just wasn't interesting enough? On occasion I found myself losing interest in the story - always expecting that all important twist to be just around the corner - though as I mentioned previously, it doesn't come until the end (and even then it's not all that mind blowing).
I realise that I'm just spilling out my thoughts and trying to be as critical as possible. Too often I come by reviews which just hail the book full of praise and when I finally read it, I end up being slightly disappointed. So here I've tried to highlight on the negatives in the hope that you will read it and see that in fact there are also many positives. It could have been better for a Masterwork, but it's a book I'm very glad to have read. Niven leaves it on a bit of a hanger which would suggest he wanted us to continue with the other Ringworld books, but I doubt I shall.
Overall, I would give it 7/10, saying it was enjoyable but had the potential to be so much better. If anything, it's worth reading for the characters, and the fact that the world they travel is bigger than any you're likely to ever come across. I don't know whether I'll ever get my mind round it's unimaginable size (something in the region of 300 million times bigger than earth).