Ender in Exile

Orson Scott Card
Ender in Exile Cover

Ender in Exile


I really, really liked the book and wolfed it down in two days. We get to take one more look at Ender, his fragility and his strength. It fits very nicely within the Enderverse, and expands of some issues that were glossed over before.

But, and it is a huge but - I don't think that this book was actually needed. Everything that was previously glossed over, could have been left as such, and nobody would have missed it much. As the author says, this ties chapters 14 and 15 of Ender's Game. Both 14 and 15 covered huge issues - totally instrumental to Ender, but to be honest, I didn't really need to know how we got from 14 to 15.

Another issue I have is that I kinda felt this to be a book-and-a-half. Three quarters are about Ender getting and being on Shakespeare. If the book had only those chapters, it would have been a nicely wrapped story, albeit a bit inconsequential. But we have the last chapters on Ganges, which feel like a separate, tacked-on novella. From what I've read in author interviews, those were intended to be the point of the novel, but after all the ups and down on the ship and on Shakespeare, they felt forced. I would have preferred to have two separate pieces of work, one for Shakespeare, and one for Ganges.

A special contrast is the villains of the two pieces. While Quincy Morgan is an overambitions incompetent bureaucrat, blind to his own faults and dangerous in a unscrupulous and meddling way, Randall Firth is a totally different form of menace - smart, driven, physical. Both are nicely crafted characters, but they really needed to be baddies of their own book. The shift from Morgan to Randall was especially jarring, in my experience.

(One issue that has been raised a lot was that Quincy Morgan feels unreal and cartoonish. Yes, he does. Feels like lazy writing, and I would have counted him as a bad thing for the book a decade ago. However, in the meanwhile, I've gotten to know - in real life - quite a few cartoonish villains, along with both the incompetence and authority of Morgan, the former president of the USA being the prime example)