At first, Ender believed that they would bring him back to Earth as soon as things quieted down. But things were quiet now, had been quiet for a year, and it was plain to him now that they would not bring him back at all, that he was much more useful as a name and a story than he would ever be as an inconveniently flesh-and-blood person.
At the close of ENDER’S GAME, Andrew Wiggin – called Ender by everyone – knows that he cannot live on Earth. He has become far more than just a boy who won a game: he is the Saviour of Earth, a hero, a military genius whose allegiance is sought by every nation of the newly shattered Earth Hegemony.
He is offered the choice of living under the Hegemon’s control, a pawn in his brother Peter’s political games. Or he can join the colony ships and go out to settle one of the new worlds won in the war. The story of those years on the colony worlds has never been told . . . until now.
After I read and thoroughly enjoyed Ender’s Game earlier this year I was quite pleased to see Orbit release this, a direct sequel to Ender’s Game, in the UK. As I haven’t read any of the other sequels I thought it would be as good a place as any to continue the journey with Ender. While the story that takes place in Ender in Exile is briefly skimmed at the end of Ender’s Game, I felt I would be able to come to it without many expectations other than those garnered from the original. The unfortunate thing is that Ender in Exile just can’t hold a torch to Ender’s Game…
While we still follow Ender, Valentine and, to some extent, Peter I just didn’t feel the same level of attachment and enjoyment that I had while reading the original. While Valentine and Peter are still very much the same sort of people that we left at the end of Ender’s Game, Ender is the one who is having to adjust more than ever. Now the war is over he has to come to terms with the fact that he will probably never return to Earth because of the political debates and arguing over how to use him. The way that Card deals with Ender is good and believable, and as Ender has correspondence with former and future colleagues we see his character grow from the war hero he is seen as at the start of the novel.
The story is a fairly simple one that follows Ender as he leaves the solar system to join a colony, one which he will be governor of (another result of his war hero status). The journey to this colony and the arrival there is fairly straight forward with the typical political maneuverings and reactions to a governor that is still a teenager. I wasn’t surprised much at all with anything and it felt very much a run-of-the-mill storyline. To say I was disappointed would be fairly accurate.
However, this is not my main issue. What made Ender’s Game so successful was Ender’s genius and strategic mind. The way he would use his intellect to win the battles and adapt quickly to anything was one of the highlights. This was almost completely missing from Ender in Exile (baring a couple of exceptions) and as a result I wondered whether this was the same character I loved so much in the original.
The problem with Ender in Exile is not so much because of what is included in the book, it’s much more because of it is such a departure from Ender’s Game. I know that each book should be judged on its own merits, but sometimes that just isn’t possible, and I found that very much the case this time around. Perhaps if I had come to this in publication order I may have a different view, but reading it straight after Ender’s Game was not the best of ideas…