I have a long standing relationship with Ender Wiggin and his Battle School soldiers. In fact, there is a picture taken of me as an infant with a copy of the first book, Ender’s Game. Naturally, I had to pick up Orson Scott Card’s latest book in the series.
Ender in Exile has a bit of an odd placement within the Ender series. It isn’t a sequel, but it isn’t a prequel either. Essentially, this entire book is composed of “deleted” scenes from the last few chapters of Ender’s Game. It covers what happened between Ender’s defeat of the Formics and becoming the Speaker for the Dead. While that may have been a weird space of time to wrap my brain around at first, it quickly became an essential part of the Ender lore.
In this book, we get to see the details as to why Ender was never allowed to return to Earth after the Formics’ defeat and the twisted politics of Ender becoming the governor of the first IF colony on another planet. We get to see the psychology of Ender as he copes with being The Xenocide, the psychology of Valentine as she adjusts to the person her brother has become, and the psychology of the first colonists to other planets. This book also, surprisingly, includes some insight into the characters of Ender’s parents, who I had never really given much thought to. It presents that same analysis of human drives and sociology that is prevalent in the other books and it was fantastic to go back to that.
Despite the fact that it has been a few years since the release of the previous Ender’s Game book1, it is easy to slip back into that universe. Card’s writing is as analytical and bitingly witty as ever and his dialog leaps off the page with its humorous sarcasm. Even though it took me far longer than it should have to finish it, I enjoyed every minute.
If you are a fan of the Ender’s Game series, you must read this book. It fills in some gaps and solves some thin plot holes at the end of Ender’s Game and during the time between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead.
1 And I somehow managed to miss that book. The latest release I’d read before Ender in Exile was Shadow of the Giant in 2005.