Fleet of Worlds - Larry Niven, Edward M. Lerner, Tom Weiner (In the summer of 2013, I re-read/relived Larry Niven, the story does not lose sight of the moral issue, making for a stronger book and more memorable. However, it does make the story closer to real life, with its myriad injustices, than escapist literature. After reading all these Known Space, I find this to be a new dimension, not undesirable at all.

In the mosaic of Known Space, this book draws significantly from events in the Niven short, [b:The Borderland of Sol|6037551|The Borderland of Sol|Larry Niven|/assets/nocover/60x80.png|6213073], acts as a prequel to [b:Ringworld|61179|Ringworld (Ringworld #1)|Larry Niven|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1348622769s/61179.jpg|924711], and introduces the intriguing, very Niven-ish aliens, the Gw'oth, who play an important role later on in the Fleet of World series. The references to other Known Space stories may make this unreadable to anyone who is not acquainted with Known Space or any of the aforementioned stories and books. I did in fact enjoy this book more after having re-read those previous Niven books. But since I'd already given this 5 stars, there was no reason to change ratings.

The puppeteers are real villains here, a race one can relate to the worst abusers of fellow humans in our history, but that is from our perspective. They are an alien race with alien sensibilities though still showing certain qualities that mirror our own, including some compassion. But their self-preservation and cowardice dominate their acts and paint the puppeteers in a more reprehensible light. Nessus is back, cowardly and conniving as he was in Ringworld, but oddly compassionate as well and devoted to his friends. He is, perhaps, my most beloved character in this universe.