The Gripping Hand is not Mote, but is is a good bit better than I remember it when I first tried reading it years ago. Its advantages is that you get a far better taste of what Imperial life is like since the first half of the book concentrates on events in and around Sparta. In that same vein, you get a very good taste of what Mote civilization is like, and how it can quickly change, because the second half of the book concentrates on that.
I think my only solid criticism is that the description of the ending space battle, as good as it is, bogs down. One of the characters gets it right - "Space battles would be boring, if they weren't so terrifying."
All in all, a reasonable successor to Mote.
Published Nov. 15, 1993 by Pocket Books.