Robot novels and the Foundation novels, both of which I've talked about previously on the blog. This book is actually set some time before the Galactic Empire based on Trantor is formed, and deals with politics within the kingdoms beyond the Horsehead Nebula, ruled by the Tyrannian (subtle!) khanate which threatens to impoverish not only the conquered, but the conquerors.
The story focuses upon Biron Farrell, the son of the the Rancher of Widemos who has been studying a variety of subjects at the University of Earth. Biron is about to graduate when he discovers a bomb placed in his dorm room, placed by Tyrannian agents. Biron then learns that the Tyrannians have executed his father for treason and threaten to seize his planetary estate. Farrell must rush back to the Nebular kingdoms and gets involved in a conspiracy of rebellion against the tyrannical Oppresons. I mean, the Tyrannian oppressors. (Okay, last joke about that I promise.)
I have to say this book is very, very silly fifties sci-fi pulp that was serialized in a magazine chapter by chapter before it was collected in a single book. As I mentioned with Pebble in the Sky, the plotting is not the best, which is a shame but this is an early work from Asimov so I can't say I'm entirely surprised. There's one plot twist towards the end which doesn't make terribly much sense and there's a plotline with an ancient document which I'm pretty sure original Star Trek just stole outright and recycled. Honestly, I suspect on some level if this wasn't a work by one of the giants of science-fiction then I don't know if this would be particularly memorable today.
That being said, I still liked this book. As anyone who reads my blog will know, I am an absolute sucker when it comes to old-fashioned space opera and sci-fi pulp. There was a part where the characters seemed to just stand around arguing a lot which I didn't like, but overall, it was a fun space adventure for me. If you like the crazy space pulp adventures, then this is definitely worth reading or listening to. If you're not a fan of crazy space pulp adventures, then this book just doesn't have anything for you, and that's okay.