Orson Scott Card is one of the most hit-or-miss authors I know of. When he`s good, in books like Ender`s Game, Ender`s Shadow, the early Alvin Maker books, he`s truly awesome, a storyteller to be reckoned with who has great insight into what makes people tick. When he`s bad, he`s awful, with pages of banter and pages of introspection populated with passive aggressive characters who are manipulating each other to the nth degree.
So it was with great trepidation that I picked up his latest Ender book, Ender in Exile, supposed to be filling in the time right after Battle School and before Speaker of the Dead.
I stood in the book shop with it in my hand for a good while. Do I really want to take the risk? Do I want to be disappointed again? The back blurb caught my attention though, in which conflict is set up between Ender and the Captain of the ship he`s riding on. Ender is due to be the governor of the colony when they arrive, but the captain is a power-grabber and unlikely to let it happen.
That`s simple, but promising. After the complexity of Ender on the whole, simple is needed. Perhaps this is do-able, I thought. Ender`s series didn`t start going off the rails `til Xenocide, and not truly off `til Children of the Mind (which was awful).
Well, of course I was disappointed. The book is more a bunch of bits than any kind of single narrative. The bits leading up to conflict with the ship`s captain are all actually quite good. But that storyline finishes about a third into the book proper, with ender laying the smack down very easily. After that we are left with loose ends from other books to be tied up. Some evil version of Bean, some bits of stuff on one of the colony planets. Basically a lot of filler, things that we could assume from the other books, that were glossed over in summaries because they weren`t worthy of book status.
Well, here Card slams them all together and calls them a book.
Some of the banter scenes are just atrocious. At one point a mother and daughter are introduced, god knows why since they play no role in Ender`s life, but we are forced to read page after page of them banter/manipulating each other. The mother is ridiculously frenetic, calling everything a fairy and constantly prancing around. I skipped this. We`re also subjected to page after page of emails between Valentine, Peter, Ender`s parents, Graf, and others, all discussing how best they should be manipulating Ender, or trying to manipulate him, or whose responsibility it is to manipulate him. Some sense of suspense is built up over Ender will ever enter into normal relations with his parents, but never paid off.
Sigh. The book climaxes with the evil Bean character getting quite easily smacked down by Ender.
Don`t read this book, I guess. I`m still amazed that Card managed to produce such a good book in Ender`s Shadow, after going into such tripe on the Ender side of things. Everything else is garbage.
However, if you feel you must buy it, why not buy through the image link above? I`ll get a miniscule fraction of the book`s cost, at no extra expense to you. Cheers!