The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

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“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

— Isaac Asimov, Foundation

    Mind games at their finest! In The Foundation Trilogy, comprised of Foundation (Book 1), Foundation and Empire (Book 2), and Second Foundation (Book 3), you’ll quickly find yourself in front of an author whose grasp on science-fiction is beyond belief. Far more idea-driven than character-driven, Isaac Asimov crafts the rise and fall of civilization in an intricate and astonishing prose. Tackling subjects ranging from religion to politics, this story will challenge your comprehension of individuals, but especially of collectives. Spanning over centuries, the Foundation series is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Foundation propels us in a time period where the Galactic Empire has thrived for over 12000 years. Psychohistorian Hari Seldon however shocks the world by announcing an impending Dark Age where the Empire will fall and dwell in barbarism for almost thirty millennia unless the Empire’s Commission of Public Safety permits him to establish a back-up plan that will guarantee a much more shorter age of barbarism and the promise of rebirth. It is on this premise that resides the adventures to come and thus leaves us with the torturous question: Will Hari Seldon’s plan bear fruit?

 

    In Foundation, Isaac Asimov introduces readers to psychohistory. The idea behind this field of study is that the behavior of masses, in billions, can be predicted thanks to complex mathematical algorithms, while an individual’s behavior remains almost impossible to anticipate. The originality behind this concept is beyond reproach and will drive this universe from the very beginning. It’s in Hari Seldon’s comprehension of masses that the faith of humanity resides on and it’s in Isaac Asimov’s creativity that this series wonders will shine in success. Of all three books, Foundation will undoubtedly go down as my favourite of the trilogy because of not only how magnificent and grandiose the ideas were, but because Isaac Asimov manages to fit what seemed like a gargatuan amount of content into just 250 pages. To put the cherry on top of the cake, the major plot twist in the first book—one that merits praise and definitely secured the first book’s spot as my favourite book of the trilogy—changes the game in unimaginable ways and remains one of the most important moment in the Foundation series.

    What I also loved a lot about Foundation is its themes. Isaac Asimov serves us with countless questions to ponder on as events unfold on galactic scales. For instance, the idea of free will is greatly challenged as Hari Seldon’s plan basically strips individuals of their ability to control their destiny on a societal level. It just makes you wonder how people feel when there actions as individuals won’t matter in the bigger picture. I also love how violence is depicted and how the author represents true power. Throughout this series you’ll quickly come to realize that there’s often only one type of behavior that will win the war, while the other will only win battles. The writing style also helps in delivering the prose fluidly without ever feeling jaded or overwhelmed. In fact, I found that the structure, composed of short stories, packed a lot punch and kept the intrigue at a high level. In all honesty, this one series that felt extremely accessible and easy to follow. Everything was straight-forward, even the countless twists to come. While characters come and go, their dialogues remain pertinent and striking whenever they do appear.

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    Foundation and Empire takes place a couple years later and introduces us to new characters. The story presents us a much more powerful Foundation that easily takes care of the menace that represents the Empire until an unexpected force enters the stage. This individual who goes by the name of The Mule is known by countless to be a mutant with powers that no one has ever seen before. He is also the one factor that Hari Seldon’s plan had never accounted for. Its the inclusion of such a character that threatens to put an end to a future that seemed sealed that brings new life to a story that seemed to know only one end. This second book in the series also presents us with our first female character when you would’ve thought that this whole series would only have had men doing the impossible and changing the world individually. This was definitely interesting since the introduction of a woman also brought into play the one thing that never seem to be in the way of men in this story: emotions. Foundation and Empire also changes its structure by splitting the book into two parts rather than having multiple short stories. The change was sort of unfortunate as the short stories seemed much more poignant, but it definitely didn’t take away the astonishing historical scope of this story.

    The third book in the series, Second Foundation focuses on a second Foundation that was hidden away in a secret remote location that no one knows about in order to remain unaffected by the actions and events that the Empire and the Foundation will come face to face with. Similar to the second book, this one is also split in two as the first part neatly ties things up regarding The Mule and the second part weaves us through the hunt for the second Foundation. One of the elements that was regrettable is the level of predictability. In these last two books, I found myself foreseeing the ruses and the twists that were integrated. Even if I saw a couple moves ahead, I still thought that the ideas conveyed were brilliant. In Second Foundation, I also loved the introduction of a second female character—a little girl this time—who glowed with a radiant Sherlock Holmes vibe in whatever she did. If Isaac Asimov ever wrote a book just for her, I’d read it now (please let me know). The finale in this book was also brilliant and kept you at the edge of your seat without you realizing. Just when you think things were done, expect the unexpected.

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    The Foundation trilogy isn’t an adventure where you’ll find yourself connecting with characters. It’s a universe where you’ll be mesmerized by the ideas and Isaac Asimov’s foray into the human psyche and the evolution of civilization. As you acquaint yourself to key players in a plan to save humanity from falling into barbarism, you’ll find yourself in awe at the countless twists and turns that are thrown into this giant game of chess. Science, religion, economy, history, philosophy and politics will all be explored in their rawest forms and everything will always feel complementary to one another. While the trilogy remains the three most important books of the series and must-reads for any science-fiction fan, Isaac Asimov expands the universe with sequels and prequels, as well as separate short stories for starving devotees. Published in 1951, this trilogy remains a colossal piece of art in this day and age. There is honestly no excuses out there that could justify putting this classic aside.


Check out Trang’s review of Foundation by Isaac Asimov
(The Foundation Trilogy #1)!


Are you interested in The Foundation Trilogy?

How about you read this series for yourself!
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆/

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54 thoughts on “The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

  1. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    Wow awesome review!! I’ve wanted to read this trilogy for a while, so it’s good to know I have no excuses not to pick it up 😉 I really like the sound of the ideas, even if it’s not character driven. I’d better get on and read this pronto!! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thank you sir! This is one trilogy that no review could honestly do justice for. 100% worth picking up to truly understand its awesomeness. I know you’ve mentioned that the series sort of… worsened with the next books in the series. How bad does it get? I honestly wouldn’t mind checking out Foundation’s Edge next (in the future).

      I really wanted to get my hands on a nice edition for this trilogy instead of finding them separately and in those… not too pretty paperbacks. This is probably the only one that was worth getting (besides the amazing Folio Society one; although super expensive). It’s the Barnes and Nobles Classic hardcovers (they do these leatherbound editions for a bunch of classic, and even have the edge of the book in gold). Pretty stuff. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        To be honest, I can’t really remember. I read Edge in the 90’s and the other ones early ’00’s. I just have vague recollections of all the other Foundation books not really being like the original trilogy and not liking them. Try Edge and see if you like it. If you really do, then go forward. If you’re “meh”, don’t bother.

        thanks for the edition info. I am definitely going to pick one of those up really soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. LizScanlon says:

    Ah.. you know when you really love chocolate and you pass by a chocolate shop and you look in the window and drool? Yeah, your review is the chocolate shop and the book is chocolate that I seriously want/need to read! Asimov has been on my list… and even though it’s not character driven, I just really want all those ideas… I’m ready to have my mind blown! Fantastic review! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh you’ll be quite amazed by the ideas and all the twists to come. Monumental piece of literature right here. One that would definitely make anyone curious drool all over for! 😛 Thank you so much for the kind words, Liz!!! You totally have to try out some Isaac Asimov sometime soon. I definitely know this won’t be my last stop for this guy. He’s written so many big hits out there!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Zezee says:

    Great review. I’ve been hearing great things about this one since my high-school years but never tried it before. Not sure it’s for me though but I take a look at it just cause I’m curious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Thanks!! I appreciate that you took the time to read my review. 😀 You should definitely test out the first book to see if it’ll be interesting enough for you. It was definitely a fantastic classic for me, and I’m not surprised to see that you’ve heard about it since high school! 😛

      Like

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I totally understand you! I often hear that about sci-fi too. The Foundation Trilogy was filllllled with amazing ideas and was brilliantly conveyed too. I’d definitely recommend trying out the first book in the trilogy if you ever feel… sci-fi-ish 😀 Thank you so much Inge!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kat Impossible says:

    I think we had those books at the store I worked at back in Vienna, but definitely not in such a pretty packaging. I should have bothered to read what it was about when I still could get employee discount hahaha

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Oh man, you make me envy your past! Would’ve been pretty cool to discover this series at work and just pick up so much cheaper. 😀 I just hunted down this edition cause I thought it was the 2nd best edition out there for it, behind another edition that was simply.. wayyyyy too expensive. Does the series interest you? Hahah I’d definitely recommend it either way though. 😀 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Awesome review as always my friend! I’ve heard many positive things about the Foundation trilogy over the years and I’ve definitely wanted to check them out for some time…and eventually will do.

    When it comes to novels, science fiction is always my first port of call and I actually prefer SF fiction that’s more entrenched in ideas and high concepts than rich and layered characterisation (which I do gravitate towards in other areas)…see the works of Arthur C. Clarke – Rendezvous with Rama, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Fountains of Paradise.

    Have you read Asimov’s ‘other’ great work – I,Robot? Well worth a read if you enjoyed these stories (and bares little resemblance to the Will Smith movie!).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I’d HIGHLY recommend this to YOU in particular. I’m pretty sure you’ll come to appreciate the trilogy (at least) a lot. I haven’t read anything else by Asimov, but I definitely plan on checking I, Robot for example. I’ve indeed heard that it was FAR different (and WAY better) than Will Smith’s movie adaptation. I’d actually read anything by Asimov at this point (I have my eyes on one of his books called The End of Eternity too)/

      I definitely will have to rectify my Arthur C. Clarke’less reading history. I only planned on checking out Rendez-vous with Rama and 2001 (especially cause of the movie), but I’ll definitely note down The Fountains of Paradise.

      Thanks for reading, good friend. I do hope you’ll get the opportunity to try the Foundation Trilogy some day soon.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chris Evans says:

        Oh, so excited that you’d already plannedto check out those Clarke novels – Rendrzvous with Rama is actually my favourite book of all time, I’ve read it a few times and even listened to the audio book twice! Enjoy and I’ll hopefully get around to the Foundation trilogy…by the end of the year!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer says:

    I’VE READ A BOOK YOU’VE REVIEWED! Sorry for the caps I was super excited! I only read the first of the Foundation trilogy as I moved on to others of Asimov’s works. I wasn’t a fan of the short story format at the time nor was I enthralled by the cycling characters so I just went around trying different books that sounded good. I so agree that his ideas are super grandiose and a product of the sci-fi theory going on at the time! I love the super old 50 and 60s sci-fi books and will randomly pick them up at used book stores. This seems like your type of book! Great review

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      Hahahaha I am most likely to have the same kind of reaction when the day comes that you review something that I’ll have read! 😀 What have you read and loved by Asimov so far? I pretty much want to read anything the dude has written after having completed this trilogy; he seems to have amazing ideas and knows how to deliver them. The short story structure and the lack of a protagonist that remains throughout all the books is definitely hard to enjoy, but I feel like the story was told in the ONLY way it could’ve ever been told in order to make this work. I know what you mean about the whole old 50 and 60s sci-fi books. I like to do the same with classics (I recently picked up Invisible Man by H.G. Wells and really love the cover because of how pre-2000s it looks hahaha Thank you so much for reading Dani! Your insights are always so valuable and interesting! 😉

      Like

  7. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Isaac Asimov requires no introduction but, unfortunately, I have yet to read any of his books. I did watch I, Robot but that would be a very poor way of getting into his work so I’ll definitely want to actually read at least one of his sci-fi stories.
    This book’s premise is amazing, truly. I knew Asimov was a genius ahead of his time but your review really convinced me! You can’t really beat the classics, can you? I’m glad you enjoyed this so much 🙂
    I absolutely love the hardcover, by the way. It’s honestly so beautiful!
    Another amazing review, Lashaan!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      I know right? I think the moment you first hear about him and start digging into his books, you’ll quickly realize that he’s an author that you simply can’t forget, like Shakespeare or Dickens. I too have watched I, Robot and have heard that the books are nothing like the movie and are also far better than the movie hahahah I definitely plan on checking them out when I get my hands on them in the future. I definitely recommend trying out Asimov’s work whenever you get the chance. He’s sort of quintessential to life. 😀 Thank you so much for reading, Sophie!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    Man, is that a beautiful cover! Sci-fi never gets covers like that. I’ve also read this series, and I absolutely loved the first one, and the sequels slightly less. I don’t remember too well now, but I think it suffered from the second book syndrome, like most series – it was kind of bogged down in nothing going on and a little dull with the politics. But I loved how the intricacies worked themselves out, that plan and the whole setup was just genius. I was even quite proud that my guess in the middle of the third (second?) book was correct about the bad guy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

      It is! And I know what you mean. I too have no come across any classic sci-fi books with a tantalizing cover. It’s why I had to dig a little bit more to find this edition and get my hands on it. Then again, I also like to pick up those older editions and have something very… vintage in my hands! Although.. I wasn’t in that mood for this particular series as I knew its reputation and had a feeling I’d enjoy this!

      I agree that this series definitely suffered from that syndrome. I just loved how new and different the first book was, but by the time I reached book 2 and 3, I felt like the level of “new-ness” diminished grandly. Then again, the ideas, schemes and twists were still pretty entertaining!

      Yep, book 2 and 3 had a lot of predictable moments as you get used to the Asimov’s writing style. I too guessed who The Mule (book 2) was from the moment they mentioned him. It was a little too obvious, but I also liked the idea behind this move (you can see why I put so much emphasis on the “idea” rather than “character” driven story huh hahahah). Something also makes me appreciate the villain, even if each books were a little too short to focus too much on him. Maybe it’s because of how old this book is and how sooo many authors after Asimov probably inspired themselves on that character to build there own nowadays. Got to appreciate the pioneer that Asimov was! 😀

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts on this series! I absolutely love hearing what you’ve got to say on the book/this review! 😉

      Like

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