on 2 September 2006
This was a fascinating, generational story of life on Lusitania, where humans have come into contact with the second sentient beings--the piggies--since the xenocide of the buggers in Ender's Game. Feeling guilty, the Starways Congress decides to allow xenologers to study these aliens and live among the Catholic colony on Lusitania. When two xenologers die at the hands of the piggies, the old calls for war ring again but instead of an armada, the Speaker of the Dead is summoned. Andrew Wiggin, Speaker of the Dead, sets off for Lusitania where he hopes to repair the lives of two of families on Lusitania and solve the mystery of the piggies.
This story is VERY different from Ender's Game, and yet it succeeds in many ways. The very idea of a Speaker for the Dead is incredibly moving and to have Ender, the slayer of the buggers, fill this role proves even more powerful. The dramatic effect he has on Lusitania is enough to declare the book a triumph. However, the culture of the piggies is at the heart of the story, and the gripping mystery of the xenologer's deaths, when resolved, will not disappoint. Card really doesn't need to continue this series; I can't image a more fitting ending.
on 8 March 2002
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Card's original Ender's Game I was eager to get my hands on other copies of his work, however a friend of mine - the one who had introduced me to the Ender saga in fact - warned me that I would be disappointed with the sequels. Gladly I can say he was wrong.
The first thing to note is that this is not Ender's Game 2 - don't expect it to be the same as the first one, it's not. Instead this is an evolution of the storyline that devolops the character of Ender, mirroring the developing maturity of Card himself as a writer.
The luscious character descriptions remain, Card once more gives us characters we can emote to, and his main strength - the interaction and tension between those characters is amongst the best in the business.
The creation and realisation of alien societies reminds me of times of Asimov in The Gods Themselves (another underestimated work) and never at any time feels artificial or unbelievable.
Although you may guess some of the twists before hand this is a good book - it is not worse than Ender's Game, just different and deserves to be judged on its own merits.
As much as I enjoyed Ender's Game, I wasn't really looking forward to Speaker for the Dead. I didn't see, truth be told, that there was much left to exploit in the world outlined in the first book. So, I started reading it with some trepidation. It took a little bit of time to warm up, but before too long I was drawn deeply into the story. By the end, I felt that it was a measurably *better* book than Ender's Game.
Not only is it a more confident story, it's also a richer, deeper, and more important story. While Ender's Game toyed with ideas of social context, the role of consent, and the burden of duty, Speaker for the Dead takes on much more important topics. It asks 'what does it mean to be human', and 'what is the value, and utility, of truth'. It's about reaching out between alien races and finding common ground. More than anything else, it's ultimately a story of redemption, through a journey of explicit soul-searching through millenia.
It's also a book that delights in language - specifically, an almost fetishistic recitation of truly lovely words. Some of this is a natural byproduct of the Portuguese within, but the words are so well chosen that they just feel good to say out loud. The names and the places are all given a l'il lyrical twist to the point that I now sometimes find myself intoning the words for no reason other than to enjoy the shape they take in my mouth. Not a lot of books have such a deep, integral focus on the poetic of language, and very few of *those* are explicitly narrative works.
So, yes - a better book than Ender's Game, and one that made me very enthused about reading the next in the series.
on 28 December 2003
The Ender Saga is a magnificent piece of work, I have just concluded the series, literally closing part 4, 'Children of the Mind' just a few hours ago.
Speaker for the dead was the first of this series I read, my English Tutor introduced itt o me, recommending it as a thoroughly good read. I can't say I was dissapointed. In fact, I'd say it ranks amongst some of the best science fiction I have ever read.
As I read Enders Game after I read Speaker for the Dead, I can't really comment on how it feels to approach this book as a sequel, but I can say that having read this first allowed me to understand and sympathise with the Ender character of 'Enders Game'- brilliantly on my first reading.
Speaker for the Dead has us catch up with 'Ender the Xenocide' - Andrew Wiggen, who through the effects of space travel and relativity, is still living 3000 years after the events of Enders game. Though initially this story isn't about him, but a world where the galaxies only other sentient species since the buggers were destroyed, has been found. I read this story not even knowing their was a prequel/sequel and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.
It is inspiring, dealing with a whole multitude of characters and events, encompassing religion, humanities dealings with meeting an alien race, human conflict, everything, not to much nor too little.
I've read the entire Ender Saga and Speaker for the Dead definitely remains my favourite of the four, it is literally a different style to Enders Game, though the sequels to this book seem to follow suit.
I recommend this series, and especially this book, to any serious fiction fan, to any one who loves to read.
on 11 June 2013
Love the book but the kindle edition is riddled with errors. This might be more excusable in an immature print version but, as an owner of the paperback all I've really paid for here is an accurate transcription. Something I could do if the law allowed. Errors range from incorrect words, formatting issues and, perhaps least reconcilable, mixed up character names.
So apologies to the author but if your publisher is going to charge me full price for a digital copy of an old book I'm going to demand, as a minimum, the same quality I got the first time around. If not, 1 star.....
on 13 June 2005
After I finished with "Ender's Game" I read an interview with Orson Scott Card in which the author said that the only reason for expanding the first book in the series from a novella to a novel was to provide a more solid foundation to the real story he wanted to tell. Having loved the first book in the series I could not wait to get my hands on "Speaker for the Death" based on that "recommendation", and luckily I was not disappointed in the least.
More than three-thousand years have passed since Ender annihilated the buggers without knowing what he was actually doing, and we find a world that shocks us in our core, since Ender is seen as a murderer of masses. On the other hand, most people venerate the Speaker for the Dead, unaware that this person is none other than that who they despise: Ender Wiggin. But even if for most people he is just an evil guy that lived three millenniums ago, we find him alive thanks to the intricacies of intergalactic travel. Ender is only thirty-eight years old and spends his time trying to find a world in which to provide the buggers with a new beginning; using the cocoon he has, which contains a new queen of the buggers.
Those that read "Ender's Game" probably liked the fast pace of the book and the way in which the author engages the reader with the games and the battles. That book also contained ethical aspects that affected the story, but these were hinted at and not discussed too deeply. I was expecting something similar, but found that there was a surprise in store for me, with a book that is not fast-paced at all, but instead reads more like a reflection on philosophical and ethical issues. This does not sound as much fun, but let me tell you, the author surrounds these main topics with such fascinating events that the journey is a real treat. The final result was that I loved this book, and now even prefer it over the first installment.
The story is set in Lusitania (in allusion to Portugal), a planet in which the human race cohabitates with the pequeninos (little ones in Portuguese). Here we find Pipo, a xenobiologist that is in charge of studying the behavior of the pequeninos, also called piggies, while interfering as little as possible. He is assisted in this task by his son Libo and an orphan called Novinha. When everything seems to be moving forward as planned and Libo and Novinha start to build a relationship that goes beyond friendship, Pipo ends up murdered by the piggies. Novinha knows that the reason behind this has to do with findings from the research she showed the man right before his demise, but does not know exactly what. As a she is disoriented and decides to summon a Speaker for the Dead to speak Pipo's death and bring closure to this incident. The speaker that is closest to the planet is none other than Ender, who now gets a new opportunity to interact with another alien race and who believes that the planet may be a good environment for bringing the buggers back to life. When he gets to Lusitania more than two decades later things have changed, and he finds a complex set of relationships and a web of lies that can destroy many people. Being able to handle this, plus the pequeninos, plus the buggers, seems a challenge that only Ender Wiggin can face.
I would have to rate "Speaker for the Dead" as the best fantasy novel I have read so far, since not only it is extremely entertaining and develops in a cleverly and precisely created world, but also explores complex topics without losing an iota of the readers attention. In my mind this is clear indication of the outstanding quality of Orson Scott Card's writing and of his prodigious imagination. I am already looking forward to reading the third book in the series, even though I am aware that it is almost impossible that it matches this one in its quality. But I am willing to bet that it will be an extremely pleasant experience anyway.
on 1 November 2013
After reading Ender's Game is a single sitting, after being told to many years ago, I bought this book. I was massively disappointed as I could not relate to the characters and it felt like it was wrote by a different author just using the brand to make money.
Although heavily flawed Ender's game was at least readable with some interesting aspects regarding training children in preperation for a future war so I figured I would see if the rest of the series improves upon what the first book started. The potential was certainly there.
Speaker for the Dead decided not to follow through on that potential.
There are very few books I give up on before finishing yet I barely got through a quarter of this book before giving up as it essentially continues on with the aspects of Ender's Game I hated focusing heavily on religious revelations, amateur child psychology and one dimensional characters.
I found it incredibly boring and it felt like a completely different book to it's predecessor. If I didn't know it was a sequel, I wouldn't have guessed that's for sure. I certainly wouldn't read any more work from Orson Scott Card based upon this.
- Heavy religious revelations in an advanced culture based sci-fi hard to swallow.
- One dimensional characters.
- Boring to read.
- Doesn't remotely feel like a sequel to Ender's game.
on 1 April 2005
"Ender's game" is a great book, but it is a one trick pony compaired to "Speaker for the Dead". This is simply the most imaginitive, moving science fiction I have ever read, and I have been at it for a while. Mr Carde has one of the most original imaginations I have ever encountered. He can throw more new and unusual topics into a book than any other auther I have read. He then goes on to make them hang seamlessly together into a compelling page turning narative.
The later books in the series are good too and should be read, but this is the best of the bunch.
Try "Songbird" as well. Not the same type of book at all, but obviously from the same brain and his 2nd best book.
After the great, tightly wound Ender's Game, this book comes as a complete change, mostly set on a forested world where humans live in an enclave and the dominant native species forages. The action is minimal and the story occurs over a couple of generations.
I found the author's note at the start very interesting. He says that he wrote this book first, or the essence of it - kept having to change things - and then decided to make a longer novel of what was presumably a short novel to go ahead of it in order to tie in. I think the only reason this feels forced in Speaker, is the inclusion of the same characters after three thousand years. But in Ender, it explains the padding. You know all the fantasy computer game scenes, where Ender is exploring a countryside that only exists in his mind and his version of the game? And how at the end we get a chapter explaining that game as originating with a hive queen many light years away? I never took that explanation as credible. If the hive queen could interfere with one computer program she could alter the course of the war, and would have. Anyway the author's note explains why he included the padding. It was to tie in with Speaker.
I don't find the scientists in Speaker credible. Of course they would find a way to take DNA samples of the subjects of study. Even faecal matter has DNA. Of course they would explore further and learn more and analyse more than noncommittal conversations and observations over decades. The planet would be crawling with visiting researchers, even if they were unable to leave the town. And if a scientist thought he was going to die he would find a way to let the other scientists know how and why.
Mainly what Scott Card did in this book is to reverse the situation that exists in Ender. Take an example and look for the obverse. Ender Wiggin was a general; here he is a man of peace, a cross between a detective and a priest. Ender fought a fearsome, technically advanced foe; here he helps a small, unadvanced race. Ender was among men and a few women whose only creed was survival; here he is plunged into an oppressively Catholic community.
This tale also reminds me of a Cordwainer Smith short, A Planet Named Shayol. Like that we get an alien biology and infection. Here the symbiotic effect has been taken to extremes but we get philosophy as well. I liked the read but it's not nearly so gripping as Ender's Game and due to the long elapses of time mentioned, we feel no urgency about arriving at any solutions.