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The Legacy of Heorot

(Heorot #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  6,382 ratings  ·  217 reviews
The colonists from Earth have spent a century in cold sleep to make the first journey, one way, to settle a planet in another solar system. Avalon seems perfect, a verdant, livable world still in its prehistoric age. The biologists and engineers who busy themselves planting and building scoff at the warnings of professional soldier Cadmann Weyland until a large, unnaturall ...more
Paperback, 383 pages
Published August 1st 1989 by Pocket Books (first published July 15th 1987)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  6,382 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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Dirk Grobbelaar
One of the few Science Fiction novels I’ve had the privilege and time to re-read. I love this book. Not only is it a totally awesome story, it is also the book I used to bait my wife into the Science Fiction genre. Kudos.

Establishing a new colony on a far-off planet is in itself a daunting prospect. The collaborating team of Niven, Pournelle & Barnes have here come up with a concept that makes it absolutely terrifying. Now, I’ll be completely honest with you, while I appreciate the theme of “don
Mike (the Paladin)
Excellent read. There are some good characters, a good plot, balanced story telling very little lag at any point. I can't quite go to 5 stars with it (though I may reconsider over time) but I can highly recommend this one.

This is a space exploration, space colonization novel of people from Earth meeting challenges on an alien world. It hits a lot of "true notes" and you'll see people you know here. The geniuses transplanted to another world who "know" what they "know" and dismiss anything that c
David Sarkies
Jan 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Messing Up the Eco-System
26 January 2017 - Sydney

Sometimes I wonder whether the more authors a book has the worse it becomes. Actually, come to think of it, I struggle to actually think of any work of literature that has more than one author – it seems as if for a book to enter into the annals of greatness the book has to be written by a single author. To me this isn't actually all that surprising because artists tend to work alone. In fact, when one considers music the same seems to apply, con
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Larry niven and Jerry Pournelle are great hard science fiction writers and With Steven Barnes they have great combat and martial arts scenes.
grreat stuff "it makes Aliens look like a Disney nature film." The Washington Times said.
Jul 18, 2008 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: no one, really
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephanie Ricker
Sep 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I enjoyed this book far more than I expected, and found myself devouring it late at night at a frightful pace. I've not had great success with books by two authors in the past (they always seem to be plagued by inconsistent characters and general sloppiness), so I assumed three authors would be even worse. Pleasantly, in this case, not so! The story's premise is basically Beowulf in space, which sounded deliciously pulpy to me. It ended up being a more sophisticated and nuanced book than I antic ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Take an island on one planet 10 LY from Earth, Avalon, a human colony of 200, some strange alien life forms and you got a movie scenery. At least, this was my impression, that this book was written specifically for this purpose. I don't know if there is a movie based on it, but there are several alike, no doubt.

Still, it's that kind of story that keeps you hooked until the end, although it is predictable. An easy and enjoyable reading, one that does not put your neurons to work :D
May 22, 2020 rated it liked it
It is not my first reading written by three authors but I still do not figure exactly how this works. I think that -at least in this case- the best-known authors Larry Nivell and Jerry Pournelle decide about the big ideas and contribute with their names in the book's cover, while Steven Barnes writes most of the book. I say this because although Steven Barnes is an author with his own original books, he has also written a lot of franchise novelizations, for example some Star Wars novels.

The book
Oct 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
This is essential SciFi reading. Combine Beowulf with star travel, strong, good looking men & women, hard science... Also the best example of the law of unintended consequences in action. Not to be missed. ...more
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is quite an amazing book. The science, sociology, psychology - all of it! - is extremely well-thought out. And the pacing is rather incredible. Niven has quite a knack for moving things along quick enough for most of the book, and then really stepping things up a couple of notches for the huge climax. Great fun!

Humanity has finally decided to reach out to the stars and attempt to colonize a new planet. But being so far away, they've gotta freeze the people so they'll make it there at a dece
Aug 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: niven
In my many years of reading Larry Niven books - I have frequently (almost always) found that the ones in which he is collaborating with another author or authors, are not as good as the ones he does alone. Oath of Fealty comes to mind, and the MOTIES sequel, and the one with the space shuttle - ANANSI I want to say....

As a result, this one, and it sequel have spent YEARS on my shelf, until I had read and in some cases re-read almost all of his other books. Well, I am running out of Niven books t
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago while preparing for my exams, yes there were far too many distractions even then - I decided to read the book again remembering how much I enjoyed it the first time.
Having read the authors individual works I was interested in seeing how they worked as a collaboration (they have in fact collaborated on a number of books all of which I enjoyed to differing degrees and for different reasons) and even though the authors have been criticised in the past - some of which
Alison Killilea
Aug 16, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: beowulf-novels
If it weren't for the characters, this may not have been so bad. Firstly, there was the complete lack of character development:

Cadmann was the personification of the brooding male hero (and also the embodiment of fragile masculinity). He can do no wrong in the eyes of absolutely fucking everyone and is somehow smarter than everyone also (bearing in mind he is a soldier, while the majority of others are scientists). Even his handwriting is manly.

Carlos, thanks to the casual racism of the book,
Vincent Stoessel
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reading
Last stop on my Niven revisited tour. This was the last Niven novel I read decades ago. Hoping this 3rd book is the charm in terms of holding up to expectations.
So the verdict?
In today's eyes parts of this might be considered slightly sexist but not to a degree that it weakens the story. In fact, this story has held up very well over the years. I may check out the sequel after I read a few goodreads reviews on it.
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best hard-sf colonization stories, and perhaps the best of the Niven-Pournelle/Barnes collaborations. It's a well-plotted and fast-paced story with excellent characterization and a fascinating setting. The eco-system is particularly complex and compelling. Recommended for fans of Steele's Coyote series or the Alien movies.
A little dated, but one heck of a thriller...almost a 4, but let's say: 3.5...
Jan 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: scifi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent colony novel by a trio of masters. Niven and Pornelle are well known for their worldbuilding in The Mote in God's Eye. The duo is joined by Steven Barnes, a relative unknown at the time, who provides the action and - numerous - sex scenes.

Its a wicked little romp with many false peaks - every time you think the threat is over, you look at the progress on your kindle and what do you know, youve only read thirty percent of the novel. What could possibly happen next? This excellent pace i
Feb 19, 2012 rated it liked it
When I was in eighth grade, I watched The Ring at a friend's house. It didn't seem too scary at the time, maybe because I was in a group, but on the way home, we did see a girl walking on the sidewalk in a nightgown in no shoes, face hidden by her hair. Creepy. When I got home, my stepdad did some crude imitation from the movie and further terrified me, putting a good night's sleep pretty far out of the question. I remember eating a bowl of cereal around midnight, sitting at the kitchen table un ...more
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sff, 1980s
Niven's Mote ... unlike most of his other books, captured my interest, earned a re-read.
The Mote in God's Eye

The Legacy of Heorot is the only other Niven I finished. The story was not captivating, but as it unfolded, I became increasingly curious. What's coming next? How will the authors end this? In an attempted recent re-read, I didn't get far.
Michael Drakich
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable guesstimate of colonizing an alien world where life forms already exist including one super predator nick-named a grendel after the famous epic Beowulf. The struggle between the colonists and the grendels is some excellent science fiction horror/action with a detailed ecosystem as to why the grendels are so terrifying. The background setting of how the colony was established and how it operated is well thought out. No FTL, the mission involves the colonists in deep-freeze hibernatio ...more
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a serious page-turner. Imagine, Sci-Fi, as literature. The book is a future setting of Beowulf. It's been some time since I read Beowulf, but I can remember the desperation of Grendel's foes . . . I felt it here, too. Every time the good guys thought they were out of the woods . . .BANG!!, people are dying again. Good to the last page . . . think of keeping your pedal to the metal, and then realizing you've passed the finish line, at full speed. That's what it was like, at the end of thi ...more
It was fun to revisit this book, this world. It is about a group of two hundred colonists who left Earth to colonize the fourth planet orbiting Tau Ceti. An island about the size of New Zealand is selected for colonization, and, for all intents and purposes, it is paradise. That is, until an ugly serpent rears its beastly head and ruins paradise for the colonists. It moves at a good pace, developing both main and secondary characters over the course of the novel. It starts out kind of slow, but ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to on CD. Read by Tom Wiener who is FANTASTIC! Great story inspired by Beowolf. TRULY scary thriller. Can't wait to read the sequels!
Mar 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Thriller Sci-Fi Fans
In some ways this book was very imaginative and in some ways just another Heinlen-like hero story.

The protagonist, Cadmann Whelan, is in charge of security in a situation where there seems to be little need for it. Homo Sapiens has dispatched a space ship to colonize a new planet. To get there while still young, the travelers must be put into deep freeze. Some of the colonists come out of the freeze with their intelligence negatively influenced. Avalon, which is what they've named the colony see
Jun 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A nostalgic read for me, my teenage reading was interspersed by a few from these authors, they were always big schlocky sci fi reads in my eyes trying to write the ultimate in each sub genre. I read the alien invasion one "Footfall", the natural disaster/comet strike one "Lucifer's Hammer" and LOVED them. I mean, LOVED THEM.

This is the alien predator one, where earth's first colony lands on the new planet and has to confront nasties on their own territory in a fight for survival.

The law of unint
John Behnken
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi, gritty, thriller
This book was sensational. Beowulf meets Aliens. Characters and story were wonderful - which I expect from any book that Larry Niven is involved with. More especially, the team of Niven/Pournelle/Barnes (Creators of Dream Park).
It was a retelling of Beowulf in the setting of an interstellar colony. The science was brilliant and handled in such a way as not to overwhelm the reader or bore them to death - incorporated into the story and revealed in baby steps to allow the reader a full understand
Nov 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
I liked this and its sequel a lot, Niven and Pournelle produce readable, engaging and interesting sci-fi without weirding me out. They're ultimately not that earth shattering but good comfort reading. These books follow the story of a group of humans sent off to start a new life on a remote planet. There's no return, and not even any communication from Earth after the first few years. Once there they find they have problems, big problems, because some of the wildlife on the planet is quite hosti ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf
These are the ROCK STARS of modern SF! This is one (of a bushel-ful) of their finest work. A tremendous retelling of Beowulf vs. Grendel with great science behind the plot. Set in a far off world, a human settlement is besieged by a faster-than-the-eye beast - which will be your heart rate, too, as this captivating story unfolds. Brilliant! Classic literature meets contemporary masters - could it get any better? I say NO!
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This book will be reviewed in an upcoming episode of Books, Beer and Bullshit Podcast. After the show has been released, a full written review will be available here. Until then enjoy other great book reviews and fun at or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio 'BooksBeerBullshit' ...more
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Laurence van Cott Niven's best known work is Ringworld (Ringworld, #1) (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar, and Nebula awards. His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big science concepts and theoretical physics. The creation of thoroughly worked-out alien species, which are very different from humans both physically and mentally, is recognized as one of Niven's main strengths ...more

Other books in the series

Heorot (3 books)
  • Beowulf's Children (Heorot, #2)
  • Starborn and Godsons (Heorot)

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