I just finished listening to this book. So here is my review of it.
This is not one of my favorites by Larry Niven. The idea is awesome, the descriptions and characters are great and well drawn, but it's what he does with all that that I don't much like.
Here's the basic premise: Four explorers (two humans--Louis and Tila--one Kzin--Speaker--and one Puppeteer--Nessus) set off to explore a mysterious ring around a star. When they get there they discover that there is life on this unnatural ring (unnatural because it was built by aliens of some sort).
Now, the idea of there being this huge flat ring around a star that can support life is really rather cool. But Niven just takes way too long in the novel to get to the Ringworld to show it to us and when he actually gets there it just sort of drags on with not a whole lot of really fascinating things happening. As far as you know, civilization on the Ringworld has reverted back to savage times and you know nothing about the people who built it, except that the natives refer to them as gods.
Given that, my favorite parts of the book were the characters. Louis is a fun character, and so is the Kzin (a sort of super evolved tiger that can talk and is intelligent and such). Even the Puppeteer (this strange creature with two heads and mouths that he uses for hands) is entertaining. All the little tidbits about human, Kzin, and Puppeteer culture are fascinating (such as the fact that any Puppeteer that shows courage considers him or herself to be insane and the rest of Puppeteer society things the same).
I thought Saturn's Race was much better than this particular book. The Gripping Hand was better too. I just didn't like the pace and where the novel ends.
So, Sunday is when I'll post Chapter Two of The World in the Satin Bag. I also just started another audiobook (The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman) that should prove to be rather interesting. Look forward to the lovely weekend then. You'll have something to do Sunday :P