This is book six of the seven-book Foundation series. Chronologically, this is the first prequel. I read this after the book Foundation and Earth.
This book has everything! Thriller, mystery, suspense, adventure, action and more. Seldon’s psychohistory starts off as a mere theory in this book. Many realize the political benefits of a favorable prediction backed by math. And so the cat-and-mouse chase begins. The Emperors evil minister Eto vs Seldon’s helper Chetter Hummin. Seldon also meets the young and beautiful Dors, his bodyguard.
Mycogen is a sector stuck in the past. The description of the ways, attire and lifestyle reminded me of the Amish people. The sector is known for its amazing food. At the end of the book, I felt this part could be skipped entirey and it would not affect the rest of the story. A disconnected section. But don’t do that! Its amazing how Asimov describes their ways of life. Seldon takes some fairly large risks here.
Dahl is like a big slum. Seldon meets a math prodigy Yugo Amaryl working in one of the lowliest jobs. This reminded me of how the mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan was discovered by G.H. Hardy. Robert Kanigel describes this in his book The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan (1991). He also meets a young street-kid Raych.
Wye is where all the politics unfurl. Rachelle, the mayor’s daughter wants to stage a coup against the emperor. Asimov pulls off the biggest twist in the series.
I felt very satisfied with this book. Its not just science-fiction. It has a lot of social element. You can definitely see the difference in the writing of a young, impatient Asimov from Foundation in 1951 and the wise Asimov in 1988, when this book was published.