Excluding "War of Gifts" and "First Meetings", this is really the ninth book in the Ender's Game series. This wraps up the entire series by solving some of the questions that we were plagued with at the end of both series', which include: "Where did Ender find the Hive Queen?" and "What happened to Bean's final embryo?" This book was written to detail what happened to Ender Wiggin, after he destroyed the "buggers" and saving the human race. This story details his adventures in exile.
The tale starts out on the colony ship, which is delivering Ender to "Shakespeare Colony" AKA "Colony I" where he is to become governor. However, the captain Quincy Morgan has other ideas. The captain has become hungry with power, and expects to lead the colony when the ship lands. He also has complete authority and power over Ender's future while on the ship, able to put Wiggin into stasis for the duration of the trip, a state of inactivity caused by opposing equal forces. While in space, time elapses more quickly than on earth, and Ender cannot waste any time in stasis when he needs to focus on getting to know his future colonists and dealing with world politics. After the ship lands and the citizens make it to Shakespeare colony, the rest of the book details the finding of the Hive Queen in addition to traveling to Ganges where the mystery of Bean's embryo is discovered.
I found this novel very dualistic, contrary to nearly all other Card novels. It seemed as though Card was distracted with all the details in the first half of the novel. It was evident that he was trying to make all the pieces fit without contradicting himself, and I think he neglected to focus enough on the story and instead plugged it with such things as a play within the novel on "The Taming of the Shrew," with his own characters playing lead roles. After the arrival at Shakespeare colony, it seemed like Card relaxed a little bit on the details and let the story flow a little more. At this point, the story told itself and couldn't help but get wrapped back up into the Ender universe.
The story is really about how a war veteran deals with the psychological aspects of post-war life. Ender was consumed with guilt for destroying the Bugger race, and he spent most of his time on the ship going through material on their lives. He was obsessed with the question "Why did they let me kill them?" The continued development of Ender Wiggin, not only in actions, but in thought processes is reason enough to read this novel. This novel became a pleasure because of it, and redeemed some of the poorer aspects of the story as a result.
Card repeatedly uses some offbeat humour that comes across as childish, in the novel. I understand his playfulness, but at times, it was uncalled for and not inkeeping with the story. At one point, Ender signed his name "Ended" in a note which was written "in case he died." It was a horrible attempt at humour, and was one of a handful of poorly placed quips. In addition, by the end of the novel I was really getting sick of Card's use of naming places, people and things. In addition to "Shakespeare Colony" and the character "Achilles", which were coined first in another book, he named an Italian family Toscanos - obviously a play on the Italian city of Tuscany. In addition, the town that this family came from was called "Monopoli." Is it just me, or does that come across as a playful but stupid?
In summary, this was ranked just better than "Shadow of the Hegemon" and "Xenocide" but worse than the other novels. While half of the story was boring and tedious, the story picked up after landing at Shakespeare Colony and the growing of Ender's intelligence. Some interesting insights into people and war rounded out the novel nicely and made it a good, if not impressive, read. Three stars.
"I didn't have the skill to hurt them enough to prevent future attacks, and yet not kill them." 33
"People don't change, Val. Not their fundamental character. Whatever you're going to be as an adult is already visible to someone who really knows you from your birth onward." 60
"A smart boy isn't looking for a girl who is even smarter, he's looking for a girl who will love him." 91
"We aren't here to preserve the local ecology like a museum. We're here to colonize, to suit the world for ourselves." 199
In regards to monetary coins:
"You always give the greatest man the smallest denomination." 307