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Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Review by Mike

Enderís Game is one of the classic fantasy novels, and winner of several awards. It is a stand alone, but several sequels have been written by OSC.

The World
The story is set on earth and in near-earth space in a not too distant future. You immediately notice that the book was written quite a while ago (the seventies I believe), since the extrapolated political map is wrong. That shows you the standard problem of science fiction Ė as a book ages, more and more of its content turns out to be nothing but incorrect predictions. But in this case you donít think too much about that, since the plot is mainly character driven, and the scientific stuff still lies in the future.

So, when we enter the scene, humankind has fought twice against a race of alien invaders, and the second time Earth was very close to defeat before the aliens could be driven back. Now preparations are made for a third encounter, and the human forces are in desperate need of a extraordinary battle leader. For this purpose a Battle School has been founded, where little boys and girls are trained to become perfect soldiers.

The Characters
All the children in the Ender family showed great promise early on. Peter, the oldest, turned out to be too cruel, and Valentine was too soft. Only the youngest one, Ender, passed the tests, and was sent to the Battle School. Even though we get to follow both Peter and Valentine, since they have important parts to play as well, this is to a large extent the story about Ender, and how the unscrupulous leaders of the Battle School groom him to become the general they need. I admit that OSC handles Enderís POV masterfully, but personally I find it difficult to relate to extremely intelligent kids, the kind that acts and thinks like adults before they are teenagers.

The Plot
The plot seems pretty straightforward in the beginning Ė Ender has to be trained to become the best war leader ever, so the aliens can be defeated. Luckily, it becomes a bit more complicated, and the ending has some very interesting twists. Since this is supposed to be a spoiler-free review I have to stop there.

The Grade
I can easily understand why this book has won so many awards. It is very well-written, and the characters are interesting, even though they are difficult to grasp. I donít think itís re-read material though. So, shall we say four amulets.

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