Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ender In Exile

Card, Orson Scott. 2008. Ender in Exile.

Ender in Exile is the "new direct sequel" to Ender's Game. And in a way, that's true enough. The novel begins with Ender on Eros. His brother, Peter, and sister, Valentine, are on Earth. One lobbying for his return, the other arguing that he should not be allowed to come home. At all. Ever. If Ender was sent home, so the argument goes, he'd be a pawn for governments and militaries to fight over. He'd be targeted by power-hungry individuals for the rest of his life. Right? Those that have read the Shadow books (Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant) know that is exactly what happened to other Battle School children--including Petra, Bean, and Alai--when they returned. With the return of the children come wars and rumors of wars. Valentine--a.k.a. Demosthenes--wants better than that for her brother. Valentine loves her brother. If he can't come to her, she'll go to him. She decides to join her brother in space in his exile.

Admiral Ender will soon become Governor Wiggin when he's sent (along with Valentine) with one of the first (I think it is the very first) colonization vessels. At thirteen, he doesn't feel ready for the job no matter what anyone on Eros or Earth has to say about his legendary hero status. And there is at least one man on board--a fellow Admiral--who is captain of the ship--Quincy Morgan--who feels that Ender is a sham of a man. He glories himself to be the better man for the job. And he plans accordingly.

This journey will take a little over forty years give or take a month or two. But for Ender--and for the others that remain awake for this flight--it will be just two years. Who would choose to stay awake when they had the option of sleeping and not aging? You might be surprised at how many. Ender chooses because he wants those two years desperately to make him "mature" into a man that a colony of strangers would respect. Valentine chooses because it will give her time with Ender...and it will give her time to write. She's got plans for writing about Battle School and the Formic Wars. The reader is also introduced to two others that choose to remain awake: Dorabella and Alessandra Toscano. Dorabella is a strange woman living in a fantasy world and dreaming big dreams. Here is a feisty woman with ambition. Alessandra is the much shyer, much quieter, mostly-obedient daughter who's afraid to stand up to her mother.

Where are they going? Colony 1. But this colony is soon given a name: Shakespeare. And Ender begins communicating with the governor even before they've left Eros. He wants to know everything about the planet, everything about the people, he wants to make these vital connections, and it's not because he has to. The reader is introduced to some of these colonists throughout. (None will be familiar except Abra.)

A lot can happen in forty or fifty years. And Andrew and Valentine are not cut off completely from Earth. Not exactly. So we do hear about Peter becoming Hegemon. About the wars on Earth. About Bean and Petra and the others whose adventures we followed in the Shadow books.

At some point in the book, Andrew learns about another colony-in-the-making that will be governed by a Battle School graduate named Virlomi. And on that ship is a child that Graff feels is the missing ninth child of Bean and Petra. He wants Andrew--if he's able--to go to this new Colony if he gets the chance to find out for sure. The colony in question is Ganges. On this ship and on this colony are several people whom the reader first met in one or more of the Shadow books.

So Ender in Exile is also the direct sequel to Shadow of the Giant. It follows a handful of the characters into space. And we also follow in a limited capacity those left behind--Peter, Petra, Graff, etc.

Almost everything that happens (but not all of what happens) was hinted at in the final chapter of Ender's Game. There aren't any BIG surprises along the way. The Ender of Ender in Exile is a boy in transition. He's not yet a man. He's not the wise-beyond-his-years Speaker For the Dead. He's a guilt-ridden boy who is burdened by what he's done--the deaths of those two boys, the annihilation of the Buggers--and he is anxious to make amends. He's a good-natured, boy who is seeking answers, always seeking.

How does Ender in Exile compare to others in the series? I enjoyed it. While it could never take the place in my heart for Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead, it certainly belongs there with the others. We've got a good mix of old characters and new characters. The characterization--like always--is great. The plot was as exciting (in a way) and well paced as others. This one wasn't as bogged down with politics and strategies. Nor was it bogged down with philosophy. I'm not picking on the other sequels--I happen to enjoy them all--but I also acknowledge that some fans of Ender's Game are turned off by the sequels.

I've never been sure how to order these books. I read them Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, Ender in Exile. But chronologically, they're all over the place. All of Ender in Exile occurs within the final chapter of Ender's Game and before Speaker of the Dead opens. But there are events discussed or mentioned in Ender in Exile from the Shadow books. There are characters introduced in the Shadow books that are a part of the action in Ender In Exile. So I'm not sure what order to recommend them anymore. I think they can be enjoyed in any order perhaps.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

No comments: