Top positive review
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Enjoyable and Fast-moving Quest.
on 14 March 2013
This second part of the trilogy moved past at a terrific rate and was exciting throughout. I couldn't put it down and read through in a few days, even though it is over 500 pages long.
Orson Scott Card never lets his style get in the way of the story and we move along on the journey across the world of "Garden", with the main group established and finding out how to work as a team. In fact this could be seen as the main theme of this book, with Card returning to the idea of benevolent symbiosis in alien races, seen in "Speaker for the Dead" and "Xenophobia". Team work between species or amongst the mice,for example - is seen as making the whole, greater than the sum of its parts.
We do have a lot of Card's favourite obsessions here - like Time Travel and its various paradoxes - becoming ever more complex here. We also revisit his interest in how children grow up and whether they are better suited to some task than adults, as we saw in "Ender's Game".
What also makes this book endlessly fascinating is the way we get to discover a different world and how its history has been split 19 ways - how each civilisation, with slight differences, becomes a very different way for human beings to live. Another Card obsession is what it means to be human and this becomes crucial to the plot, as we explore the kind of robot/human conflict that was first explored by Isaac Asimov in "I, Robot".
This is classic Sci Fi, but also has elements of Fantasy novels, which almost make this more of a "quest" story, with a band of heroes travelling across strange lands, using supernatural powers, rather than any technology - which is often wielded against them, by mendacious robots.
All in all, this is a hugely enjoyable read for anybody with an interest in Fantasy/Sci Fi - although of course it helps to have read the first part of the Trilogy. My only slight criticisms would be about the way it ends. The book sets up a satisfying conclusion, but then pulls the rug out and stops abruptly. Of course this must happen, as we know before starting that this is book 2 of a Trilogy, so it cannot end here. But I felt the way it ended was manipulative and didn't feel right. Maybe it will all be resolved in the final part - I hope so and will certainly read on to find out what happens.