“Caves of Steel” is, in my opinion at least, definitely the best of the three robot novels. “Caves” had a very twisty, clever plot, and I found the Caves of Earth to be the most interesting of the three settings. I remain impressed, too, at how “Caves” ended. Mystery novels with twists that take me completely by surprise impress me.
“The Naked Sun” was also very good, though I think it suffered a bit from having less characters. Solaria, too, wasn’t as exciting as Earth. The ending was good, but not as clever as “Caves of Steel”.
“The Robots of Dawn”, which I just finished (literally less than ten minutes ago), is good, but definitely the worst of the three. I didn’t like that Bailey slept with Gladia, and I didn’t like that he showed so little regret, or that he said he would stay on Aurora if he could. Didn’t he have Jessie and Bentley to think of? I didn’t find the plot to be nearly as tightly constructed as the other two books, and Elijah’s solution involved far too much guesswork. The very final twist (I won’t give it away) especially did not impress me as much as Asimov probably hoped it would. Also, the novel contained too much talk of sex, frankly, including that weird conversation between Gladia and Elijah at the end about how Gladia would teach people about sex (apparently through experience?).
But it was very good. I (generally) like Elijah and I certainly like Daneel, and a few of Asimov’s reveals at the end did strike me as being quite clever. Asimov is a masterful plotter and mystery novels are a perfect venue for him. I also grinned a bit when he brought up Calvin as well as my personal favorite robot short story (“Liar!”).
While I don’t need to (it’s famous enough by now without me), I still heartily recommend the Bailey/Olivaw Robot novels, though his robot short stories are better. Now to find the Bailey/Olivaw short story…