Top positive review
Battle of the Brains
Reviewed in the United States on November 25, 2020
This book in the classic Foundation Trilogy concludes the original story arc of the First and Second Foundations. Like the others, it relies on conversations, not action, to move the plot along. These are often intricate and “political,” often weaving and untangling conspiracies of various kinds.
The premise of this book requires a secretive group of psychohistorians to defeat the Mule, a mutant with the ability to control other people’s emotions. The psychohistorians have mind-control abilities of their own, based on science and training, developing latent skills that the Mule gained through a genetic mutation. Throughout the book, no one knows who is controlling whom, and the wisest characters understand that they too may have their minds influenced by others. Asimov does not let the reader know the truth until the end.
Unfortunately, such a premise can really only end in one way – essentially a battle of wizards from Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings, or a battle of X-men or superheroes from innumerable blockbuster movies. The winner does not reflect character but the needs of the box office. Rereading this trilogy more than forty years after I first read it, I see now how the subsequent books could only prove unfulfilling. I’m glad I re-read the original trilogy but I will not be continuing after this one.