I read this book after the robot novels and the Foundation series, and it is definitely best read when you are already an Asimov fan. If this were the only Asimov book you had read, you would not be able to understand his reputation as a Science Fiction master. I enjoyed it, and it's nice to read something set in between the two great series he wrote, but it's a pretty workmanlike effort. I recommend it only to those who have finished all his more famous works and fancy exploring the world he created a bit further. In fact, the best thing about this book is the political and social world Asimov creates, especially as it acts as a link in the chain between the robot novels and the time of the Foundation era, being set in a time when Trantor is powerful, but has not yet dominated the whole galaxy. Overall: decent early Asimov, but not for the casual reader.