on 2 September 2006
This was a fascinating, generational story of life on Lusitania, where humans have come into contact with the second sentient beings--the piggies--since the xenocide of the buggers in Ender's Game. Feeling guilty, the Starways Congress decides to allow xenologers to study these aliens and live among the Catholic colony on Lusitania. When two xenologers die at the hands of the piggies, the old calls for war ring again but instead of an armada, the Speaker of the Dead is summoned. Andrew Wiggin, Speaker of the Dead, sets off for Lusitania where he hopes to repair the lives of two of families on Lusitania and solve the mystery of the piggies.
This story is VERY different from Ender's Game, and yet it succeeds in many ways. The very idea of a Speaker for the Dead is incredibly moving and to have Ender, the slayer of the buggers, fill this role proves even more powerful. The dramatic effect he has on Lusitania is enough to declare the book a triumph. However, the culture of the piggies is at the heart of the story, and the gripping mystery of the xenologer's deaths, when resolved, will not disappoint. Card really doesn't need to continue this series; I can't image a more fitting ending.
on 8 March 2002
Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Card's original Ender's Game I was eager to get my hands on other copies of his work, however a friend of mine - the one who had introduced me to the Ender saga in fact - warned me that I would be disappointed with the sequels. Gladly I can say he was wrong.
The first thing to note is that this is not Ender's Game 2 - don't expect it to be the same as the first one, it's not. Instead this is an evolution of the storyline that devolops the character of Ender, mirroring the developing maturity of Card himself as a writer.
The luscious character descriptions remain, Card once more gives us characters we can emote to, and his main strength - the interaction and tension between those characters is amongst the best in the business.
The creation and realisation of alien societies reminds me of times of Asimov in The Gods Themselves (another underestimated work) and never at any time feels artificial or unbelievable.
Although you may guess some of the twists before hand this is a good book - it is not worse than Ender's Game, just different and deserves to be judged on its own merits.
on 28 December 2003
The Ender Saga is a magnificent piece of work, I have just concluded the series, literally closing part 4, 'Children of the Mind' just a few hours ago.
Speaker for the dead was the first of this series I read, my English Tutor introduced itt o me, recommending it as a thoroughly good read. I can't say I was dissapointed. In fact, I'd say it ranks amongst some of the best science fiction I have ever read.
As I read Enders Game after I read Speaker for the Dead, I can't really comment on how it feels to approach this book as a sequel, but I can say that having read this first allowed me to understand and sympathise with the Ender character of 'Enders Game'- brilliantly on my first reading.
Speaker for the Dead has us catch up with 'Ender the Xenocide' - Andrew Wiggen, who through the effects of space travel and relativity, is still living 3000 years after the events of Enders game. Though initially this story isn't about him, but a world where the galaxies only other sentient species since the buggers were destroyed, has been found. I read this story not even knowing their was a prequel/sequel and I couldn't have enjoyed it more.
It is inspiring, dealing with a whole multitude of characters and events, encompassing religion, humanities dealings with meeting an alien race, human conflict, everything, not to much nor too little.
I've read the entire Ender Saga and Speaker for the Dead definitely remains my favourite of the four, it is literally a different style to Enders Game, though the sequels to this book seem to follow suit.
I recommend this series, and especially this book, to any serious fiction fan, to any one who loves to read.
on 11 June 2013
Love the book but the kindle edition is riddled with errors. This might be more excusable in an immature print version but, as an owner of the paperback all I've really paid for here is an accurate transcription. Something I could do if the law allowed. Errors range from incorrect words, formatting issues and, perhaps least reconcilable, mixed up character names.
So apologies to the author but if your publisher is going to charge me full price for a digital copy of an old book I'm going to demand, as a minimum, the same quality I got the first time around. If not, 1 star.....
on 13 June 2005
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.
on 30 April 2016
*Warning - minor spoilers contained within*
I was initially surprised at the direction the story took. When I started reading I had in mind that it would start with Ender and the Hive queen, but instead we are introduced to a human colony living on a new planet some 3000 years after the events in the first book, with the first intelligent alien race discovered since the Buggers. Humanity has supposedly learned from the mistakes of the (now reviled) Ender and decided to try to live in peace with this alien race by limiting contact and interaction. Things take a turn however when the lead scientist is found vivisected just outside of the camp.
I actually loved how the series went from “full military” to part “murder mystery”. Not so much a “whodunnit” but more a “why-did-they-do-it?”. Again it is well-paced and never boring.
My main gripe was the fact that there were a lot of characters with very similar sounding names. I did find it very hard to keep track of them all. (Alas the page at the start of the book with characters/families explained was not very useful on the Kindle edition.)
As with the first book, everything came together fantastically and the scene was set for the third, and perhaps even the fourth books. Read it, you won’t be disappointed!
on 1 November 2013
After reading Ender's Game is a single sitting, after being told to many years ago, I bought this book. I was massively disappointed as I could not relate to the characters and it felt like it was wrote by a different author just using the brand to make money.
on 1 April 2005
"Ender's game" is a great book, but it is a one trick pony compaired to "Speaker for the Dead". This is simply the most imaginitive, moving science fiction I have ever read, and I have been at it for a while. Mr Carde has one of the most original imaginations I have ever encountered. He can throw more new and unusual topics into a book than any other auther I have read. He then goes on to make them hang seamlessly together into a compelling page turning narative.
The later books in the series are good too and should be read, but this is the best of the bunch.
Try "Songbird" as well. Not the same type of book at all, but obviously from the same brain and his 2nd best book.
on 8 February 2001
I went through various stages of opinion while reading this book... First was, "Hey- why is this nothing like Ender's Game? Drats!" Then, "What is with all this Portuguese stuff, and religious garbage?" and "Why is Ender some kind of space-detective?" And so I began trudging through this book with a lack of enthusiasm. Then slowly but steadily, this story pulls you in. You don't mind the lack of Game's glorious action. This is a very mature piece.
I doubt that anyone will be able to read Ender's Game and stop there. You want more. Speaker for the Dead is where you have to go. I find it extremely hard to consider this a sequel, because never have I seen an author switch his style this drastically within one series. Card forces you to accept all of his changes, but those who adapt to this book are highly rewarded! I found myself involved with Card's characters quite alarmingly, and touched by his themes on so many levels.
One thing that really impressed me- Card takes our first intelligent contact with aliens and compares it with 16th century European explorers encountering the natives of South America. It shows the barriers of language, technology, religion, and misunderstandings -as well as mankind's need to control or dominate any new race it meets. This book is like a history lesson that teaches us not to make the same mistakes when we reach this point of our future. Very interesting.
on 10 December 2005
In this book the true genius of Orson Scott Card is revealed. 3000 years after Enders Game, Ender is still travelling the stars until he hears about the brutal murder of a scientist by 'pigies', a new intelligent lifeform, and a call for a speaker for the dead.
Orson Scott Card makes his characters so believable that you cannot help feeling for them and their pain. I found myself especially feeling for Ender, because when he first killed the 'buggers' everyone loved him for it, but when he became The Speaker for the Dead, and wrote his book about them, eveyone demonised him, and 3000 years later he can't even tell people that his name is Ender.
An absolutely excellent book, that in my view should be compulsory reading!