Orson Scott Card,
Ender in Exile
(Tor, 2008)

Orson Scott Card is arguably one of the better science fiction writers out there. Over the past several decades he has written not only short stories and plays, but also stand-alone novels and multi-book series. The Ender series is, in my opinion, the most notable. There are at least 10 books in this series, including this one, Ender in Exile.

Rambles.NET has already reviewed the initial book, Ender's Game, along with a few others in the series, which I highly recommend reading if you are not yet familiar with Ender's universe. In short, Ender saved the human race after man's first contact with an alien species that appeared determined to wipe us out. Ender has been hailed as a hero by some and reviled as a mass murderer by others. Once he defeated the enemy, Ender was deemed more useful if he were to be sent out on Earth's first colony ship to another planet rather than be allowed back to his home.

Ender in Exile is the story of Ender's journey to that first colony and beyond. He is joined by his sister Valentine. This story fills in some of the gaps that are not fully explained in the earlier works in the series. For example, this novel gives some more details about how Ender came across a survivor of the species he supposedly annihilated. Consider this a setup for Speaker for the Dead. There is also a bit more exploration given to Ender's parents, who were initially introduced as kind of superficial characters. Here, we find out that they are a little more intelligent than their children give them credit for. Other familiar threads (assuming you've read the other books) will also return for a visit in this book for another, deeper look.

There are some new situations added to this story as well. This book takes Ender away from battle and more into politics. He is slated to be the first governor of the first colony, but he goes through a power struggle with the admiral commanding the colony ship. It is entertaining, to say the least, to watch the balance of power shift from the older military officer to the child genius who is more than a match for anybody he encounters.

Traveling at the speeds required for trips between the stars causes time to run more slowly for those on the ships as compared to those still on Earth. If you read any of the books beyond Ender's Game in this series you know that some of the books coincide in the timeline with Ender's Game, but take place from a different perspective. Some of the books take place well in the future of Ender's Game. As such, you can read many of the books in the series out of the order they were actually written. Ender in Exile, however, needs to be read after Ender's Game at a minimum.

I quite enjoyed Ender in Exile. While not the best book in the series, it is definitely a worthy addition. It should be noted that the writing styles can vary from book to book. In this one, much of the story is told via e-mail -- well, the future equivalent of e-mail. Each chapter starts off with at least one. Some might find it a little odd, but I think it works quite well. The author has also acknowledged that there are some inconstancies in the series. This shouldn't be a surprise with a series that has been several decades in the making. He is working to fix them. Personally, I wouldn't let them detract from the Ender Universe. If you've read other books in the Ender series, put this one on your list. If you haven't yet read the series, it isn't too late! Put this one on your list, but start with Ender's Game.

review by
Wil Owen

10 April 2010

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