Speaker For the Dead
by Orson Scott Card
I read Ender's Game
way back in August and somehow, in spite of being completely blown away by it, forgot to write it down in my book notebook and therefore forgot to review it here. But it was amazing in that way that only really, really good sci-fi can be. I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible here, but if you haven’t read Ender’s Game
, you should probably do that before reading this review. Seriously, go read it.
After I read Ender’s Game
I didn’t read any of the sequels because I didn’t want my perception of the first book to be ruined by potentially not-so-great books in the series. I’ve had this issue a few times which leads me to be wary of series in general, especially those I know weren’t originally intended to become series. But then I talked to two friends who told me that the whole series was good and possible even better than the first book and I should read it. So I ordered Speaker For the Dead
and stayed up ridiculously late reading it one night. I think maybe the latest I have ever stayed up reading. But it was totally worth it. Because this book is even more incredible than the first, in my humble opinion, of course.
It picks up three-thousand years after the events of Ender’s Game
. Ender Wiggin is now a name spoken with disgust since people now see him, not as humanity’s savior, but as a Xenocide, someone who wiped out an entire race of ramen, intelligent beings who share many characteristics with humans. What none of them know is that the Speaker for the Dead, Andrew Wiggin, who travels from world to world as an itinerant Speaker is Ender Wiggin, still young because of the effects of inter-planetary travel. No one except his sister Valentine knows his real identity or that he is the original Speaker who wrote The Hive Queen and The Hegemon. He is still tortured by the guilt of what he did, still trying to work out some kind of reparation for it by Speaking the truth.
When Ender receives a call to go to Lusitania, a colony of Brazilian immigrants which is fenced to protect the colonists from the piggies, the only known ramen, his life and the lives of those on Lusitania begin to unravel. As he questions their foundational beliefs, he exposes ugly truths. It is only then that they are able to reach some kind of healing, that they are able to go on.
I loved Ender in the first book. I think you have to, for the book to work. But in this book, I loved him even more. For some strange reason, I have a soft-spot for characters who break my heart and Ender did that several times.
I did have some quibbles with this book. Card’s Mormonism made a sudden appearance at one point, which meant that there was part of the book that I had some problems with. On a more minor level, I’m not sure how no one in three thousand years connected “Ender Wiggin” with “Andrew Wiggin.” However, I can see how if you are thinking of Andrew Wiggin, Speaker for the Dead, Ender Wiggin, Xenocide doesn’t really pop into your head. So I guess that one is just me, being bothersome.
“How do you know there wasn’t something that he touched kindly? Someone who loved him, who was blessed by his love? Destroyed everything he touched—that’s a lie that can’t truthfully be said of any human being who ever lived.”
I can't wait for the next book.