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"When you walk on the face again, then I can be forgiven",
This review is from: Speaker For The Dead: Book 2 in the Ender Saga (Paperback)
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.