Ender in Exile

Ender in Exile – Orson Scott Card (2008)

The last novel in Orson Scott Card’s Ender series is a patchwork, in more ways than one. As it probably wouldn’t make much sense to anyone who is really invested in the series, I’ll recap where we are so far assuming that the reader is at least slightly cognizant of the main story lines.

After Ender Wiggin (unwittingly) conquered the aliens In Card’s original Ender series, we had Ender going off into space to visit colonies set up on the planets where humans were left after defeating the formics. So in that arc, the time travel involved had Ender going into a future ahead of the relative time back on Earth. When Card restarted the series with the Shadow arc featuring Bean, all of that series occurred on Earth in relative Earth time, so there was very little bridging the two arcs, with the exception of course of the first novels in each arc which were basically the same story in battle school, but from different character (Ender and Bean) points of view.

“Ender in Exile” largely tells the story of Ender’s first trip out to the first colony, Shakespeare, as Governor designate. As he has opted not to travel in stasis, he can still periodically communicate with Earth. But the relatively short 2 year trip on his time is a prolonged decades long time duration on Earth. While most of the story is told from Ender’s end (in the spaceship or on the planet), Card uses communications on the ansible to document ‘emails’ between Ender, Valentine and a few colonists to Peter/Locke, Hyrum Graff and Ender’s parents, all who are aging quickly.

The first part of the novel introduces a girl and her mother that join Ender on the colonizing ship. By far the most interesting character in the book, Alessandra Toscano, is presented as a potential mate for Ender while at the same time having to deal with her partly unbalanced mom. Unfortunately the potential for this character is simply set aside in a quick turn of events.

Another minor intriguing element of the story is how Ender deals with the career minded captain of the ship, who obviously wants to take on the role of Governor himself upon arrival at their destination. Again, the climactic showdown, while interesting, is over in a blink.

Another angle that plays out is with the existing colonists awaiting the arrival of the ship for supplies, and of course their new Governor. Again, relative time differential downplays the relationships established and importance to the story.

The final ‘patch’ to the novel is Ender departure for Ganges, Virlomi’s planet to deal with Randall Firth, presumable the son of Achilles. This whole sequence really seems like padding as aside from the presence of Ender to solve things, it really is something that should have been left as a stand alone short story in the Enderverse.

I think you can begin to see how the novel is more like a bunch of stories than any one main plot. That is not to say that there are not other interesting things contained in it. There are, like Ender writing Speaker for the Dead, and The Hive Queen. Its just a matter of not having a sustaining overall plot to follow.

For obvious reasons, neophytes to the Ender saga won’t have much here for them to enjoy. For those who have followed the series, it may prove an interesting read only because it does fill in a few holes. But it is hardly an epic entry in the series.

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