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This is the end, Beautiful friend.
on 29 January 2008
Children of the Mind, as you will know by now, is the final instalment of the Ender Saga. The first of the books ENDERS GAME was a top notch space opera adventure tale, a rights of passage story about child soldiers of the futures being trained to fight off an alien threat. Good drama pegged on interesting characters, funny and sad with more than a little bit of action weaved in to create an enthralling book.
Then we got SPEAKER OF THE DEAD. The book that Card wanted to write but realised he had to begin at the beginning. A lot has been said about Card's Mormon faith and the fact that he is one of the very few writers of sci-fi who writes about families, the desperate needs and the unconditional love that they come with. The horror and the truly sublime are just different aspects of the same thing. The really interesting aspect of this novel for me was the way that someone with a devout faith chooses a character that, although it would be misleading to call atheist, treats organised religion with suspicion. As something that is perhaps needed by some but is not relevant to him. The main story is centred on a dysfunctional family who are helped by Ender to grieve and move on. A story that has more relevance to Ender himself.
The next book picks up on the fact that XENOCIDE is potentially coming to this new planet and desperate measures are needed. I felt that Card begins to lose his way here and some of the ideas towards the end of this novel are plain and simple bonkers. That's not to say that the book's not worth reading as yet again he managed to create a lump in my throat at some of his trademark emotional moments...I thrilled at as the poitical temperature increased and emotions where sent on a crazy dance as relationships mutate to the bizarre situations that the characters find themselves in.
So yeah, can you feel the 'but' coming? The thing is there wasn't going to be a fourth book. The third was going to end the story but he created too much for one book and decided to split them. The problem with this is that I don't really think he came up with enough for a full fourth book.
CHILDREN OF THE MIND has some funny moments, but not as many as the previous books. It has moments of tension, but not as many as the previous books. It has moments of emotional crisis, but they just don't weigh as heavy or have the same effect on the reader. If you've enjoyed the previous books, it's worth getting to the end of this and as Card is such an experienced writer this is never a chore. It's just not as much of a joy as the others (especially ENDERS GAME) have been.