Friday, June 27, 2014


My latest read from Orson Scott Card was his science fiction novel Pathfinder. This was an interesting story driven by characters who are trying to come to grips with a world that they understand less with each sunrise. As the story begins, we are introduced to a humble yet precocious 13 year old boy named Rigg (certainly a variant of Card's Ender) from the Earth-like planet called Garden. Rigg and his father live an isolated existence up in the mountains, where they eke out an existence trapping and hunting. Rigg has never considered himself poor or deprived. His education under his father's guidance has been advanced, even if Rigg can foresee no purpose to what his father has taught him. Why should a boy living in the woods have any need for studying culture, history, science, and government? Rigg's world changes one day when he finishes his chores and comes upon his father trapped beneath a tree. Father gives Rigg a last cryptic instruction before he dies that he needs to find his sister in a far-off city. Father has also left Rigg with a pouch of jewels, but he has no idea where his father would have acquired such items or what their purpose might be.

Rigg leaves the mountains behind and begins his trek to find the sister he never knew that he had. Along the way, he picks up a traveling companion, a boy named Umbo whose father has disowned him. As they travel together, they come to understand that they each possess some sort of strange ability to control time. Hard to understand and even harder to control. Rigg is a pathfinder. He can see the paths that all living creatures leave, a path that is unique for each creature and never dissipates. Umbo has the ability to move himself and others through time. When Rigg attempts to sell one of the jewels that his father gave him in order to survive, he comes to learn that each jewel is priceless and that he is a prince of the royal family that was removed from power by the people's revolution some few decades in the past. Exposed as a royal in a population that remembers the oppression during the monarchy, Rigg's life is in peril.

The other story arc that runs through this book to explain how humans settled on the planet of Garden, is an Earth colony ship that is attempting for the first time to make a faster than light speed jump. However, due to an anomaly, this process does not follow expectations and 19 identical versions of the colony ship are created some 11,000 years before they actually left Earth. They are directed by their commander to set up 19 colonies, each separated by impenetrable energy fields such that each colony has no knowledge of the others. When Rigg finds his sister, he learns that she too has a power that allows her to alter her own pace of time. Rigg's unexpected arrival in his mother's home, sets into motion her scheme through her own band of loyalists to restore the monarchy. Her plans call for her to immediately eliminate all others who might have a claim to the throne, including Rigg and his sister Param. Rigg and his sister then decide to use what they have come to know about their powers and the history of Garden, to penetrate the energy field into the next colony. There they finally come to understand who they are, who actually controls the planet, and what role they have been destined to play in the future of their world. A fun book to spend time with. I now move onto the second part of the story in Ruins.