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Book Review: Ender in Exile

Title: Ender in Exile
Author: Orson Scott Card
Series: Ender Saga
Date Released: November 11, 2008
Length: 384 pages; 13 hours, 44 minutes (audiobook)

 

Overview of Ender Saga

I begin with an overview of the Ender Saga because this book inserts itself smack dab in the middle of the series, though it is completely incapsulated within two chapters of the first book of the Ender Saga, Ender’s Game. Within a few lines of Ender’s Game, we go from the end of the war with the Formics straight through to Ender being governor of the first colony from Earth. This story covers those two years and the events during and after Ender’s term as Governor of the Shakespeare Colony in rich detail and incorporates the four Ender’s Shadow books. I should note that when reading Ender’s Game, the section dealing with Ender being the governor of the first colony reads much like an epilogue rather than a central part of the story. It is only when it is incorporated into the Speaker For the Dead series following does the chapter bridge the two stories.

The Ender Saga is made up of two quadrilogies primarily, each following a different student at Battle School. We follow Andrew “Ender” Wiggin through the first series, beginning with Ender’s Game as he studies to lead a galactic fleet to defeat the invading “Buggers”, the Formics, and follow through three thousand years later in Speaker For the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind as he faces the possible extermination of yet another sentient species, the Pequeninos. While the last three of the four books can be read with little introduction to Ender’s Game, the underlying connectivity help enhance the gravity of what occurred and its longstanding effects.

The second quadrilogy is the Ender’s Shadow series, which follows the development of a small orphan boy named “Bean”. Ender’s Shadow is considered by the author to be a companion novel- it follows roughly the same timeline as Ender’s Game and follows the same events as it concerns Bean. But where Ender’s Game ends, the Ender’s Shadow series continues on. Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant continue the story of what happened to the children of Battle School once they are returned home from space and the ensuing wars not only for political power but also to have a prized child military genius under their command. While Bean is the main character in the four novels, he is certainly not the only one; nearly every child we encountered in Battle School is later at least commented upon, and many take up active roles as suddenly their heritage is once again important on the global level, where it wasn’t on the galactic. 

Ender Saga and Ender in Exile

The time between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead leaves us with three thousand someodd years in which we know little of what happened to the boy we see Ender as at the end of the Formic Wars to the Andrew Wiggin we see as he comes to the Lusitania colony to act as a Speaker for the Dead for a fallen Xenobiologist who was killed by a Pequenino. The two books were written within a year or so of each other in the mid 1980s. Since then, Card has seen fit to re-enter the Enderverse and begin to fill in some of thos blanks. He has done so with great skill and careful attention to the storylines he’s already developed. For me, the jump from the end of the Formic War to Ender’s time at the Shakespeare Colony was a disconnect—I reached the end of the Formic War and was ready for the book to end. Ender in Exile changes that for me. We get to deal with the psyche of a child who is dealing with the immediate aftereffects of xenocide—he has to deal with the unending grief he’s feeling over his actions as a child. We as readers also get to see how he begins to mend his relationship with his estranged sister Valentine and how it is that they can travel the world at relativistic speeds for three thousand years. By the time we see Ender again in Speaker for the Dead, the name Ender is a curseword. But what happened immediately after the world was free of the threat of extermination by the Formics? Was he a hero? Was he a mass murderer to the likes of Hitler? Or perhaps he was just a child who was puppeted by the military? Ender, once he saves the world from the Formics, is forced to leave it forever—effectively exiled to space by the same people whom he saved. He’s lauded as a hero, given the rank of Admiral, and sent on the gallant quest to conquer the Formic planets and make them ready for human colonization. Not everyone is happy with how things have turned out, and we have a brilliant chance to see the myriad of responses.

Ender in Exile also deviates from the previous series as it directly incorporates storylines from the Ender’s Shadow series. Other Battle School children come into play in the story, exiled for their own reasons following the wars on Earth after the defeat of the Formics. We see finality to some of the storylines left over: the final Delfiki child kidnapped by Achilles, Petra’s life after Julian, and the tense relationship between Peter and Andrew Wiggin. The Ender’s Shadow series has not before had any direct relationship to the continuing Ender Wiggin story. Once he was sent out to lead the Shakespeare Colony we as readers assumed that he had little contact with Earth again; now we have a chance to see that indeed it is a small galaxy afterall.

Ender in Exile on It Own Standing

Outside of the obvious influence that Ender in Exile has on the Ender Saga in whole, I must also touch upon some of the many sections that don’t deal directly with Ender Wiggin. True, he’s the main title character, but he is far from being the most interesting or well developed character. The story also gives us a glance at the possible reasons one might choose to leave Earth and begin colonizing other planets, as we witness through the story of Dorabella and Allesandra Toscano and Michelle Firth. The story is about the first colony; the soldiers who travelled fifty years to get there and fight, knowing they couldn’t return home; the first generation of “natives” and structuring society and morals to best achieve reproduction; the old military command who remembered fighting under Ender’s orders and the new bureaucracy who still saw Ender Wiggin as the child he was when he commanded that fleet. Each character had their own agendas and plans as the first colony ship was about to set down upon an alien world. Card also gives us a view of how other colonies turned out and how leadership and nationality played out among the stars. Card also gives us a view of how logistics might work in setting up a galactic trading network, introducing currency into fledging economies, and creating a society in the ashes and ruins of a society to which they committed genocide.  Someday we might actually be the ones colonizing new planets, and it is an interesting perspective to see potential motives, reasonings, and logistics.  Who knows--maybe this and other science fiction novels dealing with planetary colonization may become the standard in which our own future policies and theories are determined. 

The Audiobook

I’ve listened to every Ender Saga story via Audiobook. Orson Scott Card himself prefers the audiobook version as the preferred reading method, the added dimension of voice and inflection making a marked difference in the read. I agree with him on all counts. The productions not just of Ender in Exile but of the entire Ender Saga including both quadrilogies and several short stories including Pretty Boy, A War of Gifts, Mazer in PrisonFirst Meetings, and Cheater, are among the best produced audiobooks I’ve listened to in several years. They are read by a cast of readers, which allows for a bit of dramatization in the storyline; a slight Russian accent and a deeper voice to an old Russian commander, female voices for the chapters led by women characters, and a continuity thorughout the series to some of the main voices, such as Hyrum Graff and Valentine Wiggin. We know the real pronunciation of names which might differ just by reading them; a prime example is Achilles. Even within the Ender’s Shadow series, Achilles name is pronounced in both the Greek and French, Achilles and Ascheel. The production team worked closely to make sure which pronunciation should be used at that time to differenciate between people who just knew the boy on paper or by rumor and those who knew him well enough to get his name right. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference, and in the case of Card’s books, the audiobook versions adds a whole new dimension to the reading experience. 

Intergalactic Medicine Show Magazine

One thing I should point out—several chapters of this story were previously released as short stories in Orson Scott Card’s online science-fiction magazine, the Intergalactic Medicine Show. Card updated these stories and incorporated them largely in whole into the larger Ender in Exile storyline. 

Suggested Reading

As Ender in Exile is truly ensconced in the Ender Saga (some of the stories below, especially the Speaker for the Dead trilogy can be easily read without reading Ender's Game), I’ve included a reading list and order to thoroughly enjoy the series.

  1. First Meetings: The Polish Boy (About Ender’s Father, John Paul Wiggin)
  2. First Meetings: Teacher's Pest (About Ender’s parents meeting)
  3. Ender’s Game (Stop at beginning of Chapter 15)
  4. Mazer in Prison
  5. Pretty Boy (Short Story about Bonzo Madrid)
  6. Ender’s Shadow
  7. Cheater (short story about Han Tzu aka Hot Soup)
  8. A War of Gifts
  9. Shadow of the Hegemon
  10. Shadow Puppets
  11. Shadow of the Giant
  12. Ender in Exile
  13. Ender’s Game (Chapter 15-end)
  14. Investment Counselor (introduction of Jane)
  15. Speaker For the Dead
  16. Xenocide
  17. Children of the Mind

This is largely in chronological order; Pretty Boy, Cheater, and War of Gifts are placed slightly out of order, but placed after stories where you should already know the characters. Mazer in Prison chronologically takes place before Ender’s Game, but should be read after it as we have little understanding of the character beforehand. The last chapters of Ender’s Game, according to the author, require rewriting to account for timeline differences he created in Ender in Exile. Card assures us though that other than changing the number of years that has passed, nothing substantially has changed.

 

Tags: book reviews, ender saga
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