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3.8 out of 5 stars56
3.8 out of 5 stars
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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.
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I've worked my way through four of the Ender books in the past few months - I enjoyed each of them a lot. Looking at the list of books in the series however, I think this is where it comes to a natural conclusion. Children of the Mind felt in many ways like an unnecessary book - it's not as tightly written as the first two, and it seems like Xenocide could have been stripped back a little to incorporate the meaningful parts of this one without any real loss. It's not a bad book by any means - it has some very nice moments in it and it does manage to bring a complex narrative to a mostly satisfying conclusion.

So much more than previous books though, it is driven primarily by philosophical exposition - very little actually *happens* in it. It seems in some respects to be an indulgence on the part of the author, looking to inject his own metaphysical meanderings somewhere people would actually read them. That's not wrong - he can put whatever he likes in his books - but it always seems a little bit cheap to insert your words into the mouths of your characters. The Ender books have always merged philosophy and narrative. They just usually do a better job of making it seamless than in this one.

Still, this mild criticism aside, I'm glad I read it because it brings a good sense of closure to a complex cycle of books. However, certainly at the moment, I feel like I'm done with Ender - looking at the ten remaining books in the series brings a sense of dread rather than a sense of excitement. In my review of Xenocide, I said that it had given me a slight case of 'sequel fatigue'. Children of the Mind stands as a book despite that, but it did put the nail in the coffin of my wanting to read any more in the Enderverse any time soon.
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on 26 August 2001
After reading the first three novels of the Ender Saga, this, as as the finale to the range, was rather dissapointing. Unlike the other books of the series, Ender Wiggin hardly features in this book, apart from the first few chapters.
As the back cover explains, Jane--the artificial lifeform--is able to travel "outside" of space-time. At first this was interesting and exciting, but after the Nth time, it merely became annoying. Also, the book has drifted from the philosophical roots of the previous books, and instead this book concentrates more on the "mystical" and spiritual elements which, again, just became tedious.
If you feel obliged to read this novel due to the high quality of the other books in the series, think twice, for it's not essential.
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on 29 December 2013
I totally agree with Roy Oestensen's review. Far too much angst and prevaricating and navel-gazing; not enough advancing the plot.

Like Roy, I also found the FTL mechanism - indeed, the whole "Outside" concept, and aiuas - a little far-fetched.

Also, it appears that the only notable thing to have happened in the 3000 years between now and the time this book is set is the Bugger War. At least, no mention is made of any other historical events. Does this not seem a little far-fetched as well?
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on 7 December 2003
Having waited years for the end of the Ender/Speaker series, this was a let down. I got the impression that Uncle Orson knew he had to finish the series - but didn't really know how to do it. So he throws some completely over the top ideas into the pot and ....
If you've read the rest, you probably need to read this for completion - but don't expect to be wildly impressed. When he's hot OSC is the best - but on this occaision he fluffed it.
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on 10 March 2014
I thought the plot jumped too much, I skimmed the majority that followed Peter as I found that sub section incredibly dull. After the fight to save the piggies, I thought the rest fell too easily into place.
It's a good read, it's interesting to the core. I found a few of the characters ludicrous and totally unlikeable ie Quara.
I'd read it again on a rainy dull day.
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on 7 December 2015
This last chapter of Ender' saga is for sure entertaining and fun.
Although the story closes many of the storylines started in the other books, some of them were left hanging, maybe waiting for a book never written.

The book is not at the level of the first Ender's game but if you like the characters, you will surely enjoy it.
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on 31 October 2010
This is a very intelligent book taking all the themes from the previous books and expanding on some and clarifying others while adding new ideas.

This is quite a thoughtful book without very much action.
The ideas introduced in Xenocide are expanded and some that seemed silly make better sense and allow for a few interesting twists.

We get a deeper view into Ender's mind although none of the other characters are expanded on and some seem to become more two dimensional rather than less.

It is clearly a book designed to make the series neat, loose end after loose end is tied up with every character getting a resolution of some sort.
It does get a little preachy at times making sweeping moral statements based on nothing of substance but these bits far less frequent than the moments of intelligent drama.

The ending is neatly done but it is a little anticlimactic in how easily it all falls together and you are never in any doubt as to the eventual outcome.
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I don't really understand why there are so many bad reviews of this book. Yes, Ender is not the protagonist anymore, ok. He just stays aside and it is Peter, Wang Mun, Jane and the rest who have a relevant role in the story. However, they are also fantastic characters and are developed in the way that only Scott Card is capable of. They all are constructed with care and tenderness. We can even see the most human aspect of some of them, like the almighty and cold Hive Queen or Jane. Furthermore, there is something in this novel that the second and the third one seemed to lack: a connection with the original story, Ender's Game. Children of the Mind is full of references to the first novel that will delight the fans of the series. In general, my impression has been quite possitive and I do recomend this novel to everybody (everybody who has read the previous books, of course XD). It is a story to reflect, but overall it is a story which will move you.
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on 13 October 2010
A little less rambling than the first one, but I would still much prefer the storyline to be tighter rather than giving way to the self indulgent waffling from the author that crops up in between the good bits. However there were just enough good bits to keep my interest and there was more of an element of science fiction and mystery to this than in 'Xenocide'. Some good ideas definitely but they could have been explored a little further. The novel works best for me when it concentrates more on the psychological aspects than the philosophical ones including all the political stuff and religious stuff which I really didn't find that interesting. However the character studies and questionmarks worked better but it was hard to sympathise with a lot of them as they appeared to be so selfish. Still not up to 'Ender's Game' standard yet.
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