Select one of the keywords
Ender in Exile    by Orson Scott Card order for
Ender in Exile
by Orson Scott Card
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2008 (2008)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Since his publication of Ender's Game in 1985, Orson Scott Card has written many subsequent books following on or (in the case of Ender's Shadow and First Meetings In the Enderverse) paralleling or preceding the original. His latest in the series, Ender in Exile, is billed as the first direct sequel to Ender's Game, and begins right after Ender's annihilation of the alien Buggers. Card himself calls this book a midquel.

In his Afterword, Orson Scott Card speaks of his grief for those who have fallen in war - 'or who, surviving with dire injuries or broken hearts, have been deprived of much or most of the future'. Ender, though only thirteen when he annihilated the formics, has been deprived of his future. He's vilified on Earth for killing two boys who viciously attacked him in Ender's Game, and prevented from going home where he would be perceived - and exploited - as 'the great weapon'.

Ultimately, Ender (made a very young Admiral) and his beloved sister Valentine take ship for the colonies, leaving Earth's timeline and their family behind. Every formic planet has become available for human colonization. Ender, obsessed with the race he destroyed and puzzled that the Hive Queens let it happen, has chosen to go to a colony he names Shakespeare, where he hopes to learn more of the alien race.

Though Ender has been designated Shakespeare's governor, it soon becomes obvious that the ship's captain, Admiral Quincy Morgan, envisages himself in that role. He has no idea who he's up against in the super-Macchiavellian Ender Wiggins, and it's fun watching him as he's outclassed, outmatched and outmaneouvred right up to the day of landing.

A sub-plot follows widowed Dorabella Toscano and her intelligent teen daughter Alessandra. Dorabella keeps Alessandra under her thumb - just as her own witch of a mother did to her, but in a more loving manner. Dorabella signs them up to colonize Shakespeare, choosing to stay awake during the voyage. Once aboard, Dorabella starts matchmaking, setting her own sights on Morgan and encouraging Alessandra to seduce Ender (whose 'inner chimp' wants to respond).

Another sub-plot introduces Shakespeare's chief scientist, Sel Menach, who works hard to make the planet safe for humans. On a field expedition, Sel makes contact with telepathic 'Rock-devouring larvae.' These help Ender get into the formic mindset, and catalyze an important discovery that gives him a new lease on life.

While laying out the beginnings of Ender's healing and redemption - and giving us a blueprint for colonial governance in space - Card also ties up loose ends in the Enderverse. We meet Virlomi, worshipped as a goddess in India, who was defeated by the Hegemon and exiled to govern Ganges colony. One of the colonists, Nichelle Firth, venerates the evil Achilles and raises her baby (Bean's and Petra's kidnapped embryo) to believe that Achilles was his father.

Throughout Ender in Exile, I enjoyed Orson Scott Card's elder wisdom just as much as his Ender tale. Comments that struck a chord with me include: a treatise on the challenge of parenting; 'There really is evil in the world, and wickedness, and every brand of stupidity'; and 'Pacifism only works with an enemy that can't bear to do murder against the innocent. How many times are you lucky enough to get an enemy like that?' If you're an SF reader who hasn't discovered Ender yet, where have you been? If you're already a fan, Ender in Exile is an absolute must read.

Audiobook Review:

Why do I love this audiobook? Let me count the voices ... there are so many of them and they are so good. The 12 CD audiobook is read by David Birney, Cassandra Campbell, Emily Janice Card, Orson Scott Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, Kirby Heyborne, Don Leslie, Stefan Rudnicki and Mirron Willis. The variety in speakers distinguishes the characters nicely, making the plot more accessible to the listener. Indeed, this Ender in Exile reads more like an exciting radio play than a simple audiobook.

Note the strong representation of female narrators, something I especially appreciate. Despite the Shakespearian tradition of young male actors performing female roles, male narrators reading female roles in audiobooks often grate on me, particularly when they sound nasal or childlike. The women here (especially those who play Ender's sister Valentine and the colorful Dorabella Toscano) speak their roles with verve and feeling. Indeed the entire audiobook comes across as a labor of love, read by people - including author Orson Scott Card himself - with a passion for their parts.

Some good books come across even better when read aloud and this rendition of Ender in Exile, with its excellent selection of a good variety of narrators - is one of them. I recommend it to fans of the series as a way of getting more from the novel, through the different perspective that an audiobook - especially in such a well produced performance - gives to the listener.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more SF books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews