I just finished this book and can recommend it for people that enjoyed Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead - this book is a midquel from Ender's point of view, related to his years after battle school and before he visits Trondheim. Was also good to see that the elements of many of Card's short stories have also been incorporated in this book, and it ties up a lot of loose ends from the parallel Shadow books on other former battle school kids, administrators, villains, and explains how Ender wrote his famous books and became so transformed in the later part of the series. Here is my recommended order for reading the books in this series.
Order to read the books -
A War of Gifts
Shadow of the Hegemon
Shadow of the Giant
Speaker for the Dead
Children of the Mind
Shadows in Flight (not yet published - conclusion of series)
Reviewed by Erikka Adams, aka "The Bookbinder" for TeensReadToo.com
Where did Ender disappear to after he saved planet Earth from the formics? What happened to Peter and his bid for world domination, to Valentine in Peter's shadow, and to the human race and its government between ENDER'S GAME and SPEAKER FOR THE DEAD?
Finally, Orson Scott Card provides the missing story in the ENDER series that readers have been waiting for! Card writes with his characteristic straightforward style that, though simple, belies the hidden ethical dilemmas presented to the characters every step of the way. And through it all, the story is as gripping as ENDER'S GAME and will keep you up all night until you reach the book's AWESOME conclusion.
Having saved the world from a race of super intelligent and ruthless fighting formics, Ender is exiled to the far reaches of space under the pretension of governing and developing a new colony for humans on a new planet. As always, the government plays an underhanded game in sending him off and all his doings, as Earth and its countries are still at war and unsettled after Ender and the other children of his Battle School won the war. Seen as "Earth's most deadly weapon," Ender soon guesses he will never return to Earth, his family, or any semblance of the life he once knew.
Instead, he begins to research his new obsession, the formic race he destroyed. The new colony he is going to is built on an old formic planet, so Ender goes willingly into hyperspace, aging only two years while everyone on Earth ages forty years. Valentine escapes the plans of Peter on Earth to join Ender in space and secretly, Ender is relieved to have someone he can trust. While Ender indulges in every spec of information on the formics and on the people of his new colony, Valentine waits patiently for Ender to confide his new plans to her while also beginning a series of historical novels on Ender, Battle School, and the Earth wars.
Upon landing on the new colony planet, Ender is hailed as a hero and a welcome source of leadership. He is also confronted with the best discovery he could have asked for - a species of creatures is found deep in a cave, hybrids between formics and a native creature. This is the closest Ender or anyone else has come to studying the actual formics themselves! Through his mental and telepathic communications with these creatures, Ender learns more than he could hope for about the planet and the formics history.
One day, Ender and a native person named Abra go off to explore the planet to find a location for a new colony. On this adventure, Ender discovers the answer to the question he has silently asked himself since he found out the game he played was really a war - "Why did you [the hive queens] let me kill you?"
The truth is more exciting than I can spoil for anyone who has breathlessly awaited this novel.
As always, Orson Scott Card intertwines the story of emerging governments, political struggle, and personal and moral dilemmas as the story of Ender unfolds. Kudos to him for not only continuing a series for over twenty books, but for doing so with inventiveness, brilliant writing, and a compelling story.
although this book takes place directly after the end of ender's game, you should definitely read all of the shadow books prior. card ties up some of the loose ends from the end of _shadow of the giant_, which was definitely appreciated.
card is my favorite author, and i own almost everything by him. so, i may be biased when i say this: though i have tired a bit of ender's story, his universe is so vast and it is so easy to have affection for the other characters, that this story is not unwelcome. in fact, it's a nice bridge from ender's game to speaker for the dead -- to see how ender went from being a broken child to a strong man with a specific purpose.
I think Card must be a good writer because I find myself caring deeply about his characters. I kind of hope Ender gets a break at some point. Having saved the world (or did he?) as a child, he is now a teen facing decisions of governance for human colonies in space. I feel like I need to keep reading to find out what happens, but I also am anxious.
I like what Card has to say about the importance of community, but feel sort of sad about the line of thinking that the only good leaders are people who don't want the job or people who act good as a premise for so long, that they actually do become good. It may be true, but I'm thinking twice before handing this one to my kids.