Friday, March 7, 2014

Ender in Exile

My online friend Ricky suggested that I might enjoy Orson Scott Card's "Enderverse". So far I have read through the original Ender Quartet, but I did not stop there, continuing on down the path of the many other books in this series. Card has added to his original works with sequels, prequels, and parallel-quels (books written from different character's viewpoints). I have read some commentaries by Card who has admitted his difficulty in keeping everything straight over the three decades that he has been writing stories in the universe of one Andrew "Ender" Wiggin. One thing that I will note is that, for the most part, Card does not seem to be milking a dead cow. The storylines are consistently tight, the writing strong, and the different story arcs engaging. My latest read is entitled Ender in Exile. This story was meant to be the direct sequel to the original Ender's Game and all takes place before Speaker for the Dead.

Ender Wiggin has just defeated the insectoid alien race known as the Formics (or the buggers as they are slangily called). During the time that the young Ender was in Battle School training to be the ultimate commander of Earth's forces, Ender's older brother Peter was setting himself up to be the leader of the united nations of Earth, the ultimate position of power, called the hegemon. Peter has a dark, antagonistic history with Ender, and does not want the new military hero of the Earth to steal his thunder, so he makes it so that Ender will not be allowed to return to Earth. Instead Ender will become the new governor of an Earth colony on the planet Shakespeare. Ender's sister Valentine, will not stick around to be subject to the whims of Peter, and makes arrangements to go with Ender on the transport ship. Ender is only 15 years old, and we see at each step of the way how clever and subtle his actions are. Like a chess player, he is always thinking several moves ahead. Card has a way of writing such that you cannot fully appreciate how cunning Ender is until he plays his hand. Then his past actions can be seen in their true light.

Ender serves well as governor on Shakespeare for two years before his wanderlust takes over and he knows that he must move on. However, his powerful urge to move on is not due to boredom, but due to an absolutely unbelievable discovery that he makes on Shakespeare concerning the buggers. It is this discovery that helps puts his past xenocide into perspective and gives him ideas that will shape his future. I thought this book was as good as any in the series that I have read so far. I will next continue on into the Shadow Saga, a series of parallel novels to Ender's Game, starting with Ender's Shadow.