I have to admit Card surprised me with this one. It is now apparent that the previous two books were a setup for this one. And while I retain some of...moreI have to admit Card surprised me with this one. It is now apparent that the previous two books were a setup for this one. And while I retain some of my quibbles about the last two books--the politics and the military engagements played out with far too few complications, genius children or no--the stage that was set plays out with much more drama in this book than in the last two. Having already read Ender in Exile, some of the long term results of this series were already known to me, which probably siphoned some of my enjoyment. But I cared about Bean, Petra, Peter, Alai, and Virlomi much more here than in the previous books, and while I may not have enjoyed the setup as much as I'd have liked I did really enjoy this payoff.(less)
The follow up to Ender's Shadow, this unfortunately showcases Card's tendency to write sequels for the sake of growing a successful franchise, even wh...moreThe follow up to Ender's Shadow, this unfortunately showcases Card's tendency to write sequels for the sake of growing a successful franchise, even when the stories don't quite merit it. This is not a bad book, but it suffers in comparison to its predecessor.
Again, this book showcases many of Card's strengths: internal character monologoues reveal mostly well developed characters with psychological foibles; moral and religious discussions/debates; strong young adults. But, as with the first book, Bean, by design, can't be as good a character as Ender (whose shadow does indeed hang over this and the following books, despite Ender himself being completely absent), and he just doesn't resonate with me as much as Ender did. Furthermore, the stage on these remaining Shadow novels has been expanded, and Card doesn't do as well on the large scale as he does with the small. The politics, intrigue, and wars just aren't as interesting as they would be in the hands of writers like le Carre, Ludlum, or Clancy. They just come off as a bit too pat. And the genius children card is just too overplayed. There was a good reason for it in Ender's Game, a reason that required the protagonists to be as young as they were. But now, back on Earth, we're in an environment where there should be several decades worth of Battle School grads on the world stage. Yes, Ender's jeesh had the benefit of working with Ender, and maybe that gives them an unexpected edge. But they shouldn't be *that* much smarter than everyone around them. Older Battle School grads do have more experience than they do, and at least some of them must be as smart as the lesser members of Ender's jeesh, and presumably the best of those former grads will be in positions of power at this point in time. And we shouldn't have to be reminded as often as we are that they're smart. And finally, Achilles just isn't that great a villain.
That all comes across as a bit harsh. The book *is* a page turner, and its entertaining enough. Its simply not up there with Card's best.(less)
This is a collection of four short stories. The first two deal with Ender's father, John Paul Wiggins, first as a five year old boy in Poland and late...moreThis is a collection of four short stories. The first two deal with Ender's father, John Paul Wiggins, first as a five year old boy in Poland and later as an under-challenged grad student who meets and falls in love with his future wife. The third story is a reprinting of the original Ender's Game novella. And the last story tells of Ender's first encounter with Jane, in a story that takes place between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead (and after the events of Ender in Exile).
Individually, the three new stories aren't really as good as the other Ender stories, but they do add some depth to your knowledge of the characters. The original Ender's Game novella isn't quite as satisfying as the novelized version, with the added backstory, but it's still a great read anyway.(less)
Update: After a re-read--and after having re-read both Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead--I've decided to knock a star off my original review. This...moreUpdate: After a re-read--and after having re-read both Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead--I've decided to knock a star off my original review. This is still a very enjoyable book, but on reflection it's not as good as either of the books it's set between, primarily because it lacks a central narrative. Instead, it is really a short novel (voyage, arrival) and a short novella (Ender meets, confronts, reconciles with Achilles II) with a bridging sequence (Ender the Governator, Ender as Author). The final act is set up as an interlude half way through the first story, but as enjoyable as both stories are, and despite some parallelism going on between the stories, they just don't form a coherent whole--this really should have been at least two separate books. But, again, very enjoyable, and very Ender.
First Impression: Card can be hit or miss for me. He sometimes lets his series run on too long, to the point where later entries definitely have the sequel feel to them. Ender in Exile is definitely a hit--set mostly between the penultimate and final chapters of Ender's Game, this is old-school Ender, and it made me realize how much I missed that character. I'm definitely going to go back and reread Ender's Game now, and the Shadow books, and maybe Speaker for the Dead as well (still my favorite Card book, and one of my all time favorite novels).(less)
The first book in the Shadow series provides us with a backstory for Bean, one of the more memorable supporting characters from Ender's Game.
We learn...moreThe first book in the Shadow series provides us with a backstory for Bean, one of the more memorable supporting characters from Ender's Game.
We learn who Bean is, how he came to be in Battle School, and what he *did* in Battle School and in Command School. There is some overlap with Ender's Game, leading to the characterization of the book as a "parallel novel". It's an interesting device, but in order to keep the book from being a rehash of Ender's Game we get a story of a character who is very distinct from Ender, to Bean's disadvantage. For while Bean is presented as smarter than Ender--he sees through the deception at the heart of Ender's Game--he's not as good a leader, because he's not as personable. And as a consequence, he's not quite as engaging a protagonist, and the book (and the series) suffer somewhat from this distinction.
Which is not to say the book is bad--far from it. While only about 20% of the novel (Bean's time in Dragon Army and at command school) overlap directly with Ender's Game, Card makes the most of differences in perspective to make you rethink what you knew before. Bean knows more about some things than Ender, and less about others, and you experience enough to make you question each of their perceptions, which adds somewhat to both stories. And Card's usual trademarks of psychology, motivation, and ethical/moral/religious questions and dilemnas are on display as well.(less)
This is one of my favorite books. I have recently completed rereading it for perhaps the fifth time.
This is the second of Orson Scott Card's Ender nov...moreThis is one of my favorite books. I have recently completed rereading it for perhaps the fifth time.
This is the second of Orson Scott Card's Ender novels, but it is a *very* different book than Ender's Game, a fact that apparently divides some readers of this book who enjoyed the first book and were expecting more of the same. Game is an action oriented book--it's a book set in war time, featuring young children being trained for war via various war games, video games, and psychological tests and manipulation. Speaker is much more of an intellectual novel. There is very little action. It is a novel of redemption, healing, growing, understanding, and learning peace. It is, in many respects, the antithesis of Game.
Although Speaker is set in the same universe as Game, and has the same protagonist, it is really a novel that stands on its own. You will have a deeper appreciation of Speaker if you're familiar with Game, but it isn't required. Speaker was originally conceived as the intersection of two separate ideas, neither of which involved writing a sequel to "Ender's Game". The idea of using Ender as a protagonist came after Card realized that setting the story in a universe where humanity had already met another species, with disastrous results, would lend more weight to the circumstances surrounding their interactions with a new race. Once Card decided that the Speaker would be Ender, then the original "Ender's Game" short story was rewritten as a novel, adding enough background to Ender's character to make it a proper set up for Speaker.
Speaker is a story dealing with speculative anthropology--a fairly unusual sub-genre of science fiction. On a foreign world, 3000 years after the events of Game, human colonists have found an intelligent, but pre-industrial civilization. Anthropologists study them, trying to find out as much about them as possible, while concealing as much as they can about their own civilization. The "piggies", in turn, are always testing and probing the anthropologists trying to find out what they can about human beings, despite their efforts not to "contaminate" piggie culture by revealing anything.
The novel is set in motion by the murder of one of the anthropologists by the piggies, for reasons that are undetermined. One of his associates is a very young woman acting as the colony biologist, a girl who views herself as an outcast from the community, and who views Pipo, the murdered anthropologist as a father figure, and who blames herself for Pipo's death--something he saw in her work led him to a realization about the piggies that he immediately raced off to ask them about, immediately before his murder. The colony is Catholic, and because she considers herself an outsider amongst her own people, Novinha summons a speaker for the dead from off-world to Speak Pipo's death, in defiance of the Church, whom she knows considers speakers to be heathens. Twenty-two years later, Andrew Wiggin, speaker for the dead, arrives, bearing secrets of his own, to find Novinha grown, and widowed, and mother of an extremely dysfunctional family.
What really makes the novel work is not just the individual stories of the piggies, the mystery of their murders (another murder happens off screen before Ender arrives), and the mystery surrounding Novinha's family and the apparently self-destructive behavior that led her to deliberately put herself in an abusive marriage. Each of those stories are individually fascinating. But what pushes the book into top-tier territory for me is the way Card interweaves the stories with common themes--redemption being perhaps the strongest. Ender has been the master of his own fate during the twenty years of his life that have passed during all his years of star travel since the end of the Bugger War. But during all that time he has never learned to overcome the isolation and disconnectedness he learned and had forced upon him during the course of Ender's Game. As he uncovers the mysteries and secrets surrounding the piggies and Novinha's family, he also finds his personal barriers dropping, and finally finds himself reconnecting to the human race. His attempts to redeem Novinha from her guilt help him towards his own redemption, and along the way he manages to confront and overcome hostility from one of the church leaders, reintegrating Novinha's family back into the community and discovering and reconciling the fates of the human colonists with those of the piggies.(less)
Ender in Exile rekindled my interest in the Ender franchise, so I'm working my way back through the ones I've already read, and will be reading the on...moreEnder in Exile rekindled my interest in the Ender franchise, so I'm working my way back through the ones I've already read, and will be reading the ones I haven't read yet as well (mostly in the sister ...Shadow series).
I reread Game almost immediately after rereading the original novella again in First Meetings in Ender's Universe. The original story is still very good, but it was much improved by the addition of the back story that comprises the first half of the novel, where we see Ender's life at home briefly before he's drafted, and we meet his siblings. We also get to see his introduction to Battle School, and how he came to command his army. The novel also expands on and adds depth too his supporting cast at the school, and it gives a name and a face to the nameless enemies from the novella.
Most of the second half of the novel is the same as the novella it came from, with details (buggers, supporting cast) added at appropriate points. The novel also adds a coda to set up Speaker for the Dead, and the coda, in turn, was great expanded later to good effect in Ender in Exile.