Daniel's Reviews > The Gripping Hand

The Gripping Hand by Larry Niven
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Sep 28, 07


Long-awaited sequel to The Mote in God's Eye. It doesn't live up to its predecessor, but Mote is perhaps the best first contact s.f. novel ever, so it's understandable why Hand fails to hit the mark.

Roughly the first half of the novel, before Kevin Renner and company return to the Mote system, is slow-going, but I appreciated the opportunity to see a bit more of the Empire itself, especially the capital world of Sparta. The character of Horace Hussein Bury is also fleshed out much more here than in the first book. He quickly becomes the central and most interesting character in the book.

The second half, the return to the Mote system, gives us Niven and Pournelle at their imaginative best. We see a fully-realized asteroid-belt civilization of Motie factions duking it out in an arena of scarce resources and power politics that Machiavelli would have recognized. The space battles in part 2 are just as suspenseful as anything out of Star Wars (or Midway in WWII), but the laws of physics apply here: Niven and Pournelle never wander outside the confines of their hard s.f. setting.
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