Saturday, December 6, 2008

Ender in Exile review

At the close of Ender's Game, Andrew Wiggin, also called Ender, is told that he can no longer live on Earth. The 12 year-old chooses to leave his home world and begins the long relativistic journey out to the colonies. Ender in Exile is an "interquel" and occurs in between Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead. Though Ender is just 17 by the end of "Exile", so there is a question whether or not there could be more books to follow this one.

The story of "Exile" takes place one year after the Formics were defeated and the Battle School children, except Ender, started to return to Earth. It was agreed that Ender could not go back to Earth because there could be world dilemmas and more than likely wars over who got to keep him to use for their own uses. Since Ender had no way to go back to Earth, he was offered the job of becoming the Governor of the first colony of the Formics' former worlds. A world soon to be called "Shakespeare". His sister Val decided to accompany Ender on his journey because she was sick of being controlled by her older brother Peter. Also due to the fact she wanted to rekindle the relationship she had lost with her little brother.

Ender resides as Governor for a few years in Shakespeare. Near the end of his time as Governor, Ender, and Abra (a young boy from the colony) go to find a site for a new shipment of colonists. Ender wants it to be far enough away from the other settlements so that there will not be any sort of competition between them right away and so they can develop by themselves. In the process of finding a new settlement, Ender stumbles upon what appears to be a note from the Formics. It is a structure made to look like a game he used to play in battle school. When Ender goes to investigate the structure, he finds the pupa of a living Formic Hive Queen that is fertilized and prepared to make hundreds of thousands of babies upon its own maturation. Which in turn, leads Ender to write his first book as Speaker of the Dead, appropriately titled The Hive Queen.

Later, Ender's brother, Peter, near death at this point, asks him to write one for him for when he dies. This book becomes known as The Hegemon. Afterward, Ender resigns as Governor of Shakespeare and leaves the colony for another called "Ganges". The leader of Ganges is Virlomi, who happened to be in battle school with Ender. Here he encounters Randall Firth who believes he is the son of Achilles de Flandres, and even refers to himself by the name Achilles. Randal starts the propaganda of Ender and the Xenocide in an attempt to discredit Virlomi and get revenge against Peter because he believes he was responsible for his father's defeat. Randall tries twice to meet with Ender and discredit him somehow. On the second visit his plan is to cleverly provoke Ender into killing him so that people will see how violent and dangerous he is, but Ender does not attack. Instead Ender tries to convince Randall that he is not Achilles' son, but that he is in fact the son of Bean and Petra; hence where he gets his giantism from. In the end, Randall believes him, though Ender took a beating before it concluded. Randall ends up changing his name to Arkanian Delphiki. After Ender heals a bit, he, Val, and the pupa get on a star ship to go to travel more to far and distant systems.

Orson Scott Card is a solid story teller. I compare his characterizations, not necessarily the way he tells a story, but how he constructs these characters to the late Robert Jordan, author of the famed "Wheel of Time" series. The novel also serves to transition Ender from the end of “Game” to the character we see in “Speaker.” Card is able to do this superbly and the chapters that look at Ender’s character are compelling and solid. I have to nitpick here though. This was billed as a direct sequel, though as I previously mentioned it's more of an interquel, but more than that, More than half the novel is taken from several short stories previously published in Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.

Ender in Exile ties up a number of loose ends that were left dangling in "Speaker" and "Xenocide". If you enjoyed Ender's Game. but felt lost as the series progressed, then "Exile" is a satisfying missing-link to the overall story that will ease your troubles. I couldn't recommend it unless you are familiar with that initial story and its science, characters, etc.

I enjoyed this book with it's snappy dialogue and suspenseful moments as well as the tear-jerking ones. It's a plain good read what a wonderful author. If you haven't by now taken a look at the Ender universe, I think it's about time you check it out.

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