Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A War of Gifts by Orson Scott Card

I've been waiting patiently for two years for this book to come out and I must say that it far surpassed my expectations. Many Orson Scott Card fans were disappointed that we weren't getting our "Christmas at Battle School" story last year for Christmas, but it was well worth the wait and Uncle Orson has given all of his readers a wonderful gift indeed with this new addition to the Ender saga.

A War of Gifts is much more than just the story of Christmas at battle school. It is a story of human connections, the spirit of a child, and a story of facing that moment where the spirit of a child begins to awaken into an adult. The story takes place at battle school during the events of Card's novel Ender's Game. A new child by the name of Zeck has been drafted into the army. Zeck is the child of a minister who claims to be somewhat of a vessel through which God speaks to his congregation. Zeck has been raised in a home where he has been brainwashed against any form of popular culture and is often beaten by his father as a way to cleanse his soul. Zeck's father preaches that Santa Claus is the creation of Satan and is nothing but a false idol paraded to children. Zeck also has a very special gift of being able to memorize anything he hears and is highly intelligent. He's recruited by battle school and is taken against his will...for battle school does not allow the expression of religion for the sake of uniformity.

On Sinterklaas Eve, a young boy in battle school leaves his shoes out in the hope that Sinterklaas will leave him a present and another child soldier in battle school notices the gesture and tries to fulfill the boys wish. Zeck sees this and reports it to the commanders as expression of religion in the hopes that others will turn against him and he can be sent home where he can once again practice his religion. But what escalates is beyond what he had planned for.

This book was just perfect and fans of the Ender series will love it. If you've never read a single book in the Ender series, you'll love this book. You don't have to have read any of the other books to enjoy this one. It's a short one at just 126 pages and I'd recommend it to be on anyone's holiday list.

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