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3.7 out of 5 stars101
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 3 July 2013
It reminded me of Frank Herbert's Dune series - stunning first book is head-spinningly brilliant, second book has maybe a little less verve and swagger but nevertheless delivers and then the third one starts to suffer from Lorenzian urges and just loses impetus under the increasingly suffocating swathes of irrelevance and invention for its own sake. It flies off to the left and right like a kid with Tourette's, barking here and howling there but never engaging or startling as Ender's Game did. By now I'm a little sick of Andrew Wiggins (and starting to think how sad it would be if the universe were indeed multiply saved by someone called Andrew Wiggins) and feeling he's something of a smug wee prig.

I liked the Chinese girl idea, but again the execution became wearysome. By the time we discover faster-than-light flight (by sitting in a cardboard box and rubbing the side of our noses) I've seen visions of Paul as a sandworm - a book I last read over 30 years ago - and remembered the frustration of a legendary saga that hit the ground running and then just started digging until it ran out of steam.

A shame, that...
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on 26 January 2014
Wow, I really liked the previous two books in the Ender series, but this one was hard work. Too often the narrative flow stalls with character's self musings that are a little too esoteric, literally when this starts you can skip two or three pages and the skipped material has zero impact on the overall plot. The characters are also less likeable, I found myself not really caring what happended to any of them. I mean it isn't a terrible book, it simply isn't as engaging as its predecessors.
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I can't say for sure that each of the three Ender's Saga books I've read has been better than the last - they're all too different to really invite easy comparisons. I will say though that I thought Speaker for the Dead was much better than Ender's Game, and I think Xenocide is every bit as good as Speaker for the Dead. It has the same contemplative, introspective philosophising as SftD but with an entirely different focus. It also benefits from introducing a new thread of the story, centred on Qing-Jao and her father - the Godspoken of a colony planet called Path. I began feeling somewhat cold towards this part of the tale, but as it went on it grew to be my favourite lens through which to view the actions of the main protagonists. It offered a view of the bigger picture of the ongoing political context that deepened the more intimate portrayals of the main story.

If the book suffers from anything, it's a kind of 'sequel fatigue' - at the end of the third Ender's book, I was ready for the whole thing to be wrapped up. I was somewhat disappointed that it continues onto a fourth book since it seems that it could so easily have been an extremely good trilogy rather than a somewhat stretched out quadrology. A particular 'plot twist' at the end removes any real hope of a satisfactory conclusion and sends the series spiralling off into a direction that veers dangerously into the territory of its own posterior. The final chapter of Xenocide is as poignant as any I've read in science-fiction, and it would have been a fitting capstone for a tremendously well constructed body of work. Whether I still feel that way after Children of the Mind remains to be seen, but I can't say I've started that with anything approaching the enthusiasm with which I started Xenocide.
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on 18 October 2001
First two books in Ender series are wonderful reads with a gripping storyline and excellent writing. Well, the third book has the same excellent writing but lacks the storyline.
No wonder Mr.Card is a great writer; whatever he writes he writes it good. Unfortunately Xenocide serves the purpose of bringing up a number of muddled ideas rather than telling a story. As a matter of fact there are so many ideas (overcoming an intelligent virus, how to save Jane, the Godspoken, Novinha's frustration against Ender, Ender's "split" personality, piggies' rights, virus rights, Bugger's way of thinking, Inside and Outside, faster-than-light-travel and some more minor things) that all comes to frustrating complexity and since the author does not have enough "time" (number of pages) to devote to each idea, almost everything except a few becomes muddled.
At the end, since the author creates more problems than necessary for a book - that can be handled in a single book - in order to neatly tie all that mess up, he has to resort to deus ex machina by means of hard sci-fi. Well Mr. Card is a great writer of characters, but he's not that great in hard sc-fi; thus his attempt makes you feel kinda cheated.
Overall this is an inescapable book. If you've started Ender Saga you'll have to read this. Thanks to Card's writing, it is still a fun read but especially with its ending it is unsatisfactory.
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on 21 May 2016
First let me clarify, I *loved* the first two books. They moved along at a good pace, with Ender filling the typical “chosen one” role, but bringing something new each time. In the first book he was a child prodigy, the second he was the Speaker of the Dead, a writer of wrongs… thoroughly enjoyable.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED!?

Around 70% of this story was taken up with pseudo-philosophical debates that went in circles before going NOWHERE (GAHHHHHHHHH!), arguments between Ender’s step family that went NOWHERE, and normal conversations that went on TOO LONG. e.g:

(Jane and Ender)
Ender: Do it
Jane: I’m not sure I should do it
Ender: Well [reason why you should do it]
Jane: I’m not sure
[See line 1, and repeat for several pages]

Now imaging this formula done with philosophy in EVERY chapter, mixed in with family-feuds in EVERY CHAPTER.

WHERE THE HELL WAS THE EDITOR!? GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!

This piece of crap was around 20% longer than the previous installations, and it had about a quarter of the story!!!! GRRRRRRR!! I am so annoyed!

Much like the second and third Matrix films, it seems as though the author has started believing his own press and tried to add too much philosophy and hidden meanings to the point where an “okay” story has become bloated and irritating.

A favourite quote of mine (after I’d put up with all of this **** for about 75% of the book):

“…my adoptive nephew, it is wild philosophy we need…”

GAHHHH!!! NO… MORE… PHILOSOPHY! STOP MAKING EVERYTHING LONG AND BAD!!!!

This has got to be the first time I have finished a book out of pure spite. I did it because there was a story buried in there, and unlike the second Robin Hobb book, good things did eventually happen, even if they did happen all at once at the very end (*fume*).

Ironically, I AM going to read the next book (having already bought it when I bought book 3). I can only hope that he manages to rescue the series after this monstrosity.

*spit*
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on 23 March 2014
The third book in the Ender saga takes a bit of a dive. It's closer to Speaker for the Dead than Ender's Game (Speaker being very different to Game to start with.)

Set mostly on Lusitania, the strange near-failed human colony with two other sentient species (well, two at the start, anyway) it answers all the threads set up in the narrative arc but seems much more complex and confused. Where Ender's Game was a straightforward clear-as-glass sci-fi novel, Xenocide is a big-canvas. The Chinese-themed colony does have a reason to exist in the novel (two reasons actually - one to comment on the nature of religion, and secondly to throw Starways Congress into sharp relief) but they're not very big ones, and a huge chunk of the text is set on a world getting to know characters that don't really do much.

Where it shines is in continuing the sheer nastiness of Novinha and her children, although it's a bit over the top to think this deeply troubled set of siblings can get over their squabbles after a few chats from the Wigginses (Ender being known to them for over thirty years by this time.) However, the character of Jane gets given more space, becoming more essential than in "Speaker".

That said, OSC's writing remains absorbing and fast-flowing; he knows how to spin a yarn. Talking of yarns, though, the biggest flaw for me was a matter of personal taste: there's too much "magic" in the physics.

The philotics, the Outside, Jane herself: good sci-fi takes today's science as its starting point, and there's no evidence at all to suggest these concepts could ever be real. Any writer who ignores physics is writing Fantasy, not Sci-Fi. So this was the hardest thing for me to accept. After all, OSC had already proven his hard-sci smarts in a very rare manner: by not allowing his starships to use magic (hyperdrive) to get around. With that gone, the universe's solid feel went, too.
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In this, the third novel in the Ender series, the world of Lusitania is under threat. The planet is in rebellion, and the Starways Congress fears that if the descolada virus escapes from Lusitania all humanity will be at risk. The descolada virus kills all humans with which it comes into contact but the pequeninos (piggies) require it for the third stage of their life cycle. The human colonists on Lusitania eat food laced with inhibitors to keep the virus at bay. The Starways Congress has decided to destroy the planet: a fleet is on its way with the means to sterilize the planet.

If Lusitania is destroyed, then other sentient species will be destroyed. Andrew (Ender) Wiggins is working to prevent this, and the plot turns on whether Andrew, the members of his family and the leaders of the other species can work together to prevent this multiple xenocide. Research is undertaken in the hope that the descolada's deadly components can be neutralised without destroying the virus.

But the ultimate fate of Lusitania may rest with the Chinese Taoist colony of Path, with Han Fei-Tzu and his daughter Qing-Jao (`Gloriously Bright'). Gloriously Bright is able to discover various truths, but is unable to deal with some of the reality exposed.

`There are many different purposes in this world, many different causes of everything.'

Xenocide is a long novel with multiple themes. The themes of duty and absolution that were so much a part of `Speaker for the Dead' are continued, but there is also considerable reflection on the nature of life and the consequence of choice. Families are split apart as well during the battle to save or destroy Lusitania.
I liked this novel, and although in parts it moved very slowly because contemplation slowed action, I find myself lining up for the fourth instalment. I am intrigued by some of the questions raised, and keen to know what happens next. The worlds created are rich in detail and full of existential dilemma.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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on 25 November 2013
The book is the continuation of the Ender saga and continues in the style of "The speaker for the dead". The third book is just a little less of all the positives of the previous book for me. While still drawing you in, this instalment is just a little less intriguing and a bit too blunt and straight forward sometimes. Some revelations just pop up a bit too fast and arbitrarily perhaps.

It's more a feeling than a fact, but to me this book is just a notch down from the two previous books in pretty much every way. Still a good read though!
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on 15 December 2014
having enjoyed the first two books I was looking forward to this. About a quarter through I've given up reading it. It is full of philosophical ramblings which are all very well, but I am just not interested. I find the whole plot line with the Confucian inspired Chinese child abasing herself before the gods and her ancestors extremely annoying and was largely the reason why I stopped.

If you enjoyed the first two in the series I strongly recommend you stop and remember the good things.
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on 10 October 2011
A very well written book by Orson scott Card, this shows the series continuing to tackle more complicated ethical ideas as opposed to the military fiction of Ender's Game. Ender has grown into a distinct character instead of playing the sterotypical child genius from the first book. Though occasionaly the normally hard science fiction elements can devolved into more metaphysical religion I thouroughly recommend the book.
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