Reviewed date: 2008 Apr 7
Destiny's Road is slow, meandering, uncompelling, and nearly plotless. It falls into the worldbuilding subgenre of science fiction, sort of. The setting is a lost colony on the planet Destiny. The technology left over from the original settlers is just about gone, and the inhabitants of Destiny are making do. Their civilization is barely more advanced than subsistence farming. Education is poor, and their knowledge of history is rapidly being lost. The peculiarities of Destiny are mysteries to most people. Niven's protagonist, Jemmy Bloocher, is a young boy who is intensely interested in the origins of the Destiny colony. Jemmy wants to find out as much as he can about how and why Destiny was settled, and what went wrong to allow the loss of technology and collapse of civilization. Jemmy wants to know the secrets of Destiny, but there is no one to tell him.
Fortunately, Niven provides a solution. Jemmy kills a man in a fit of rage, and then flees for his life. His flight takes along the great spiral road of Destiny, along which he gradually learns the secrets of Destiny. Too bad it's boring. Destiny has little potassium, so the people will die of deficiency unless they eat enough speckles--a particular kind of spice sold only by merchant caravans. Civilization on Destiny will only advance when everybody has access to a plentiful supply of speckles instead of being held hostage to the merchants.
I did not finish Destiny's Road.