ENDER IN EXILE by Orson Scott Card

Book Quote:

“I wonder if what we call ‘goodness’ is actually a maladaptive trait.”

Book Review:

Reviewed by Mike Frechette (JUL 31, 2009)

If there can be one criticism of Orson Scott Card’s nearly perfect science fiction masterpiece Ender’s Game, it’s that the ending feels rushed. After destroying the Formics, Ender is carted off across space, where, in just one chapter, he learns to govern a colony and discovers the complex truth about why the Formics allowed him to annihilate them. Over twenty years later, Card has addressed this shortcoming in his most recent endeavor Ender in Exile. As Ender fans know, there have been a number of Ender-related books since 1985 such as the origal series which includes Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide and Children of the Mind and then the more recent “Ender” books, such as  Ender’s Shadow. This newest addition, however,  constitutes a direct sequel to Ender’s Game, where Card expands and fleshes out the final chapter.

While Ender’s Game skips over Ender’s passage to the Formic world, Ender in Exile spends a significant bulk of its pages on the journey itself. Readers witness Ender’s parents accepting his fate as an exile from Earth, his sister’s decision to join him in his new life, and the difficult relationships he must negotiate with the other passengers aboard the ship. For those who read Ender’s Game years ago and have since lost track of his adventures, Ender in Exile is an excellent place to pick back up. A nostalgic romp through space and time, this latest piece of the Ender story will transport you back to your first encounter with this precocious child and the unique universe he inhabits.

Though set in the deep recesses of space, Card’s stories, like all good science fiction, are much more about humanity itself than any other life form or physical place in the universe. Ender must exist in a world – much like our own – where hostile people and societies vie for power. In this newest adventure, our protagonist must once again resort to psychological manipulation in order to contend with those who wish to divest him of his standing and authority. During their journey to the colony, Ender must feign submission to the ship’s captain, Admiral Morgan, who foolishly believes that, once they land, the colonists will recognize him as their governor instead of a mere child. At the end of the novel, Ender confronts another warped soul who has used Ender’s writings to portray him as a xenophobic murderer to the peoples of earth. In this contest, however, Ender displays what he has learned from the Formics and mimics their wisdom, allowing himself to be beaten to the point of death. By allowing himself to lose, Ender discovers he can achieve truth, harmony, and reconciliation with his opponent, ideals forever out of reach if sought through aggression and war.

Clearly, Card possesses a real gift for deepening his science fiction with a thoughtful dose of mystical paradox. This assessment extends to his treatment of the space/time continuum as well, which should please those readers who are real suckers for time travel. For Ender and the other passengers, the journey to the colony lasts only two years due to “the relativistic effects of time travel.” For the colonists and those back on Earth, however, forty years have passed, leaving Ender’s family very old or nearly dead by the time he reaches his destination. By contrast, the more evolved Formics “are always connected to the real time of the universe.” Their “hive queens never needed to subdivide time into hours and minutes and seconds, because…everything was infinitely now.”

Although a worthy direct sequel, the storyline of Ender in Exile seems aimless at times compared to the tightly managed plot of Ender’s Game. For example, almost out of nowhere, Card introduces Allesandra Toscano and her mentally unstable mother, two Italians who end up journeying to the colony with Ender. At one point, it feels like Ender and Alessandra might marry and have children, but Ender eventually leaves the colony for a new one, essentially ending Alessandra’s part in the story. In another instance, Card belabors a seemingly irrelevant scene of the colony before Ender’s arrival, where scientist Sel Menach, an even more peripheral character, and his fellow researcher struggle with sexual temptation.

With that said, please note that this criticism comes from someone who has now read only two books in the ever-bulging Ender phenomenon. Perhaps these characters and small subplots answer questions from other parts of the series or will play a larger role in future projects. Some superficial Google research reveals a persistent interest in the Ender character, spawning a comic book series and even a movie idea. With this latest novel, Card continues to expand on Ender’s adventures, and hopefully we have not seen the end of a character who has captured our imaginations now for over twenty years. Ender’s final line in the book sounds like a pledge to his fans: “I’ll try not to get killed. I still have things to do.”

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-4-0from 217 readers
PUBLISHER: Tor Books (November 11, 2008)
REVIEWER: Mike Frechette
AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK? YES! Start Reading Now!
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Orson Scott Card
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read reviews of:

Bibliography:

The Ender Wiggin Series

Shadow Saga

The First Formic War

The Homecoming Saga Series

The Alvin Maker Series

The Mayflower Trilogy (with Katheryn Kidd)

Women of Genesis Series

Mithermages

Pathfinder

And More:

Collaborative works:

  • Robota (2003) illustrated by Doug Chiang

E-Book Study Guide:

Other:

 


July 31, 2009 · Judi Clark · One Comment
Tags:  · Posted in: Scifi, y Award Winning Author

One Response

  1. Judi Clark - August 6, 2009

    Hi Mike… thanks for bringing our attention to this latest Ender book. Carl and I are long-time fans of this series and downloaded the book to our Kindle while I was working on formatting your review.

    I think this is an entertaining read for those that have read the other Ender books, however, I would highly recommend that people read SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD prior to starting the Shadow books or this “sequel.” I think SPEAKER and the 2 subsequent novels are far more mature and interesting follow-up to ENDER’S GAME than is ENDER IN EXILE.

    In reading Card’s AFTERWORD, he points out that he has rewritten the last chapter of ENDER’S GAME to deal with the discrepancies that ENDER IN EXILE and other SHADOW books have introduced. He says he didn’t change the chapter, just the timeline and details. This rewritten chapter will be included in a future reprints of ENDER’S GAME.

    And doing a search on the web, you were correct to point out that Allesandra Toscano seemed “added in.” It was. Chapter 5 was originally and Ender short story. Scientist Sel Menach was also introduced in a short story.

    I think if someone has read all the other books and just wants to stay in the Ender Universe, then this is a descent enough follow-on, especially for the Bugger part of it. But if someone is just starting out in this series, I strongly suggest reading in the order that Card wrote them. It’s quite a trip.

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