If you love a thing, set it free. So it was with my copy of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game — a book I cherish so much I have been compelled to share it as often as possible.
It has had many sequels, from the redemption tale Speaker for the Dead (my personal favorite), which takes place 3,000 years later), to Ender’s Shadow, which overlaps with the original novel’s timeline and centers on Ender’s best friend in Battle School, the diminutive Bean. But Ender in Exile (hardcover, $25.95, Tor Books) is the first true, direct follow-up that takes place immediately after the original, chronicling “the lost years” between Andrew “Ender” Wiggin’s deliverance of humanity from an alien threat and his ultimate salvation of its soul in later volumes.
Ender has won the war against the alien Formics — the “buggers,” as they’re widely known — but it quickly becomes apparent to everyone that he can never go home. Many on Earth see him as a monster because he killed two other children — bullies — in self-defense. Others fear his use as a political weapon now that the threat of annihilation is gone and Earthbound rivalries are resurfacing. And Ender is obsessed with discovering why the enemy’s queens allowed themselves to be exterminated. So he joins the millions embarking on a journey to colonize the now-empty Formic planets, to spread the seed of humanity so far that it can never be threatened with extinction again.
Ender in Exile fills in gaps that Card’s readers may not have noticed were there, but the result is a new richness that widens the universe and makes you want more. It effectively hijacks the denouement of Ender’s Game and expands on Ender’s discovery of a surviving Formic cocoon and his decision to live and travel as long as it takes to find a suitable planet where it can hatch and redeem him.
The book is both a worthy follow-up and a handy companion to Ender’s Game and its many sequels. The characters are both larger-than-life and easy to identify with at the end of the day. Ender in Exile doesn’t have a lot of baggage, unlike its characters. That being said, it does help to know who Bean is and why he is so special (so reading Ender’s Shadow, etc., wouldn’t hurt). But even so, it’s funny, fast-paced and easily accessible to newcomers to Card’s saga. A-
Marvel gets in the ‘Game’
Exile isn’t the only news to come out of the Enderverse lately. For the first time ever, Card’s novel has been adapted into another medium: comics. Marvel started publishing the limited series Ender’s Game: Battle School in October. A free preview is available online through November. A follow-up, Ender’s Shadow: Battle School starts in December.
In the video below, Card discusses both Ender in Exile and the series’ jump to Marvel’s visual medium:
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