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The Swarm

(The Second Formic War #1)

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4.13  ·  Rating details ·  4,214 ratings  ·  353 reviews
Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston return to their Ender's Game prequel series with this first volume of an all-new trilogy about the Second Formic War in The Swarm.

The first invasion of Earth was beaten back by a coalition of corporate and international military forces, and the Chinese army. China has been devastated by the Formic's initial efforts to eradicate Earth
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Hardcover, 464 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Tor Books
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Joseph Graham
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Crew No. No need to read it as soon as possible. This is only the first book of an unfinished trilogy, and in my opinion it was only a 3 star book. Pretty…moreNo. No need to read it as soon as possible. This is only the first book of an unfinished trilogy, and in my opinion it was only a 3 star book. Pretty average. I will continue to read the trilogy, but I'm not super excited about it. (less)

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Orson Scott Card‘s ENDERVERSE has grown to sixteen novels and counting, along with several novellas and short stories, since he published Ender's Game in 1985 (or if you want to go back even further, since the original “Ender’s Game” short story was published in Analog magazine in 1977). Andrew Wiggin, or Ender, is the main character in only a few of these works; others focus on his brother Peter Wiggin, Ender’s protégé Bean, and other new or
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Eric Allen
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was ok
An interesting idea for the beginning of a story ruined by completely uninteresting characters, and series shattering continuity errors.

Unless you REALLY enjoyed the characters from the previous trilogy about the First Invasion, you will probably want to pass on this one until the rest of the Second Invasion trilogy is out. I found it to be horribly boring, and full of characters that I haven't given a shit about for years, if I ever did to begin with. The only part of this book that I found
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Andy
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good fun for Enderverse fans, so 4* for that crowd. Not the best in the series and not worth it on its own.

What is different in this episode is that the International Fleet is completely dysfunctional. In the other books, the governmental authorities have a level of omniscience and infallibility that is godlike. Generations ahead of time, they can predict future battles, adopt the appropriate strategies and select the perfect leaders to win the war. I think, sadly, that it's a sign of the
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Jane Stewart
Note to myself: don't get the audiobook. You can hear the narrator's breath. I understand the best narrators use editing software to remove their breaths. This was released in 2016. You'd think current day publishers and narrators would solve this. I will wait until the rest of the 3 books are out then consider buying print - not audio.
Crew
Aug 04, 2016 rated it liked it
I have been anticipating the continuation of the prequels to Ender's Game since the last trilogy ended. However, so far I am somewhat disappointed. This book wasn't bad, it was just - meh. The story didn't advance as far as it could have. It was definitely written as the first book in a trilogy rather than a stand-alone in a trilogy. I like trilogies or book series, but I think it is a cop out when the author purposefully drags things out to fill up space and make a series of books from one ...more
Andrew Jaffe
Jul 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: summer-2016
Damn you, Card and Johnston. Damn you for creating such a uniquely vibrant world that sucks me in like literally no other. Damn you for putting out only one of these a year that I'm almost literally forced to read in a single sitting.

Now that that's over with, The Swarm, the most recent entry into the Ender's Game prequel series-es, was an absolutely outstanding component of the series that you absolutely cannot fully appreciate without reading (and probably enjoying) every other book in the
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Sean
Aug 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
masterful storytelling. the characters here are so insightful, and the alien race's technology marvelous. the infuriating careerist military leaders and criminals are loathsome, the goodness and wisdom and character of the heroes are inspiring. I don't know if I've ever read a book that engaged my interest, imagination, and wonder so fully, other than the other books in this series. My thanks go out to Card and Johnston.
Sarah
May 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Getting back more to what I want the Ender books to be-- politics, hard science, etc.

There's a lot of nano tech, and extensive videos of the Formics here that I found myself wondering how they didn't make it into the set-in-the-future Ender's Game book. The authors have already created an alternate history (gay people and cel phones don't exist, for example, though it's never explicitly stated) timeline to set the Ender books in. Why not just stick with that?

The cognitive dissonance of the
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Noah Goats
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ender's Game is always on those lists of the Top Science Fiction Novels of All Time, but to tell you the truth, I kind of feel like it's overrated. Not that it's bad, because it's not bad, it's good, but it's not great. It's structure and the way it ends drain the drama out of it in my opinion (I won't say more about it, because I don't want to spoil it). So, when I say that I actually liked The Swarm better than Ender's Game, don't read too much into it.

I thought The Swarm was very
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James Mourgos
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
Starts out OK but to make a long story short, it should have been shorter! There is much to be said for a build up to the next book, but this one was not really developing the characters much from the previous novel. You are required to read the previous one or else you will be lost, not a good sign for any author.

I'm wondering if Orson would have done better without a co-writer here. The story is very slow-paced, the characters I really don't care much about.

I did like the adventure of
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Tyler
Aug 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I've read every book in the Enderverse, while I enjoyed The Swarm I must admit it is relatively weak in comparison to other books in the series . Fans of the First Formic War series will enjoy revisiting many of the same characters in this series but not much else. There's plenty of the Card charm and intrigue but it's clearly written to be a trilogy and as a result there's not much of a climax and I have a feeling only hardcore fans will enjoy it.
Chris Friend
Feb 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Builds well. Fills in gaps nicely. Pays tribute to characters from both the original story and those we’ve met in the Formic Wars series. In short, it functions very well for what a story has to do in its slot in the timeline of prequels.

Stylistically, I hand it to Johnston—he got me to cry with the beauty of one chapter’s end. That’s all I’ll say, so as to avoid spoilers, but he deftly used a character who’s been built up over the past few books to effectively tug at heartstrings and make me
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Karen A. Wyle
May 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ideally, one should read this book after Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and the First Formic War series. I don't think I've read all of that series, but there are sufficient clues to what happened. As for Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, this book takes place before either and can be read independently of them, though the reader would miss a number of winks and nods toward those books, including some satisfactory foundation-laying.

I found this an absorbing read, suspenseful enough that I (a
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Cody
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I waited too long to write this. The specific details are fading.

The Swarm is another solid book in the series. Like the first formic war series, it's interesting knowing the ultimate results hundreds of years later. And yet again the story that unfolds has many twists and unexpected details.

One new thing I picked up that seems common in other Ender books is what I'd call a sketchy emotional sub plot. In this version it's a couple characters that in one encounter go from engaged to confused and
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Alyssia Cooke
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this, far more in fact than I enjoyed the works on the first Bugger wars. The characters seemed far more developed and the narrative all but flew past. The issues with the IF are well explored and although Mazer is perhaps wasted a bit, the events that surround him are interesting enough that you don’t really mind.
Timothy Olson
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Another entry in the "Ender-verse". Orson Scott Card never fails to deliver.

Ender's Game is truly a classic of the sci-fi genre. Card's depth of understanding of his subject created a need in his readers for more. Although you can still see Card's influence in this book, it is clear there is a co-author. It is somewhat like the move from George Lucas' Starwars to Timothy Zahn's Starwars. The stories remain compelling, but become less about the original characters, and more about the universe the
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Homer
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the book, but it definitely feels like book one of a trilogy and doesn't stand alone well. I liked how Johnston used the character Lehm to poke fun at the "coincidence" that brought the main cast from the previous trilogy back together. If you enjoyed the previous trilogy like I did, I think we are set for another fun adventure as the next two books are released!
Martin
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to this one. The ending was too soon.
Radek
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book
Very good action s-f book. Nothing like Ender or Shadow series in terms of wisdom, but a good fun to read.
Ice Bear
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
It's ok but long winded when you consider the length and depth of Ender's Game.
Edwin
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
To start off I really enjoyed Ender's Game, the movie. I know it wasn't a big hit, but I like the nuances and what have you. As such, I figure I pick up something by Orson Scott and get into the universe.
I started with this as it was the first of the trilogy before the actual Ender's Game.

Well, cringe, it wasn't good.
What I liked, was some of the research of weapons as they figure out how to defeat the Formics (furry bug alien things). This went across Lem's and Mazer's story lines.
Also like
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Virginia
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Gah! Why is it that I just found out about this book and now have to wait for the next one?!?

It doesn't matter that we "know" the big picture of what happens. It's the how. I want to know HOW sooner than later.

As with all the best space operas, it is the people and the love and ultimately, family and perpetuating the human species that makes these lives worth living.
Olav
Jul 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like this book, and encourage all who liked the 3 former books on the Formic wars to read this as well, and by all means those who haven't read the former books. Though it would be recommended to do so first, as you'll understand more of what the main characters have gone through.

In this book we meet Vico, Mazer, Bingwen and Lem again, together with other old, and new, characters, and see how they have evolved and/or changed from the aftermath of the first war.

However there are things that
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Jon
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
This book suffers from all the same flaws as the others in the Ender-verse prequel series. That is, they don't belong in the Ender-verse.

If this were written as a stand alone piece of literature -- it would be perfectly adequate. It's a techno-babble heavy, character light, sci-fi adventure book. Perhaps not the height of literary achievement, but a genre which has its own charms and audience.

But there's very little continuity between what other books in the series have told us about the events
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Mike
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book. Great characters and wonderful villains. Can't wait for the sequal.
Connor Wood
Dec 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-the-best
Orson nailed it. Again. This is the kind of book that keeps me up at night because I'm thinking about how humans would prepare for an alien invasion. The politics and the conniving, backstabbing bureaucracy is infuriating, and the humans that act out of selfish, wicked pursuits in the face of jeopardizing the human race... I mean HELLO! the entire world is at risk and you really want to push a risky mission secure a promotion, or kill a squadron to steal expensive equipment ... hold on, I need a ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Set a century before Ender's Game, The Swarm addresses the beginning of the Second Formac War. The world becomes aware of a new invasion and unites with a political and corrupt military system. The early years of Mazer Rackham in the military as he bucks the system are explained setting the statge for a new science fiction series that will lead him to his role in Ender's Game. A good read although Card shared the writing duties with Aaron Johnston.
Turkinator
Enjoyable but form(ula)ic

I always enjoy these as a guilt ypleasure, but it was a bit predictable. Characters seem to be one dimensional, and dialogue is a bit hackneyed. With that said, as a prequel, it does a good job of laying foundation in a way that doesn't disrupt already established elements of the Ender universe. Recommended for the hardcore Ender franchise fans out there. Not recommended for newcomers to the series.
Matthew
Aug 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an excellent prequel to the Ender's Game series. I found the storyline was interesting, and his use of multiple main characters, who's fates all end up tied together in the end. This story centers around Mazer Rackham and his journeys through the Second Formic War. We see the construction of the battle room and Mazer's first trainees. It's a great continuation of the series, and I can't wait for the sequel of this prequel.
Susan Miller
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Prequels can be tricky, but this one was great! Many origins of key pieces and characters of Ender's game were, of course, woven into this first prequel installment and done so in an easy natural way and I didn't ever feel as though the author was forcing my attention to any specific detail.
If you liked the Ender's Game series, you'll equally enjoy this first prequel installment.
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series
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Other books in the series

The Second Formic War (3 books)
  • The Hive (The Second Formic War #2)
  • The Queens (Second Formic War, #3)
“I divide officers into four classes—the clever, the lazy, the stupid, and the industrious. The man who is clever and lazy is fit for the very highest commands. He has the temperament and the requisite nerves to deal with all situations. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the high staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be removed immediately. —General Baron Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, German Chief of Army Command (1930–33)” 4 likes
“He thinks I'm like him, Mazer realized. That's what we do as humans; it's how we read minds. We assume that other people think like we do. So if we're nasty and suspicious and conniving we assume that everyone is as nasty and suspicious and conniving as we are.” 1 likes
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