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Ender is acknowledged as the victorious warrior against the notorious buggers threatening Earth in Orson Scott Card's momentous first novel, Ender's Game. Ender in Exile is the sequel to that first novel, revealing Ender's life-long quest to free himself of guilt in the death of Stilson, Bonzo and all the formics in the universe. But Ender clarifies this issue by stating he's not to blame for their deaths but he is responsible. Intent is not the issue but consequences are.
While Ender is attempting to reconcile his outer reputation as a savior of the earth with his killer, instinctual responses and consequences, the reader discovers the evolution of so many who touched his life and he theirs in some way during that questionable, short time span.
Colonies are being formed on all the former formic worlds and it is through the ansible email communications that we learn how Peter, Ender's brother, evolves into the Hegemon, a world leader who can wreak peace or devastating war on earth. What will he honor, knowing his own destructive, evil nature?
Hyrum Graff could retire as the engineer of the ultimately victory Ender won; instead, he has bigger plans as Minister of the Colonies now in the process of being rebuilt and shaped by humans traveling in and out of stasis to their destinies as the creators of a different world than strife-ridden Earth. Who is smarter about that process, the court-martialed, shamed Graff or Ender and what is the destiny of those affected by these plans?
Ender's sister, Val, is the single-minded relative and person who has Ender's best interests in mind and agrees to sacrifice her relationships with Peter and her parents to be a guiding force to heal Ender of the crushing burden he carries for past actions and as the first Governor of the planet, Shakespeare. How will Val reconcile her sacrifice and Ender's resistance to her advice? Are they really opponents or is there more behind their genius plans and conversations?
What about other members of Ender's "jeesh" or battle squads, those with him and those banished before and after the final war with the Hive Queen? While he might be worshipped by many of the world, what of Bean's descendant, Achilles, who carries a twisted story of the past and is determined to wreak punishment on the one who hold's the world's highest regard? This and so much more fills Ender in Exile with a story that covers the gap between the end of the war and the Speaker for the Dead story in Orson Scott Card's brilliant science fiction series.
A brief afterworld expresses not only thanks to the countless individuals who supported and assisted Card in this huge endeavor but also offers a singular message to those to whom this story is really directed, a significant, needed and moving tribute indeed.
Ender in Exile can be read as a stand-alone novel, with enough repetition for a new reader to understand what preceded this novel. It's also an excellent prequel to Speaker for the Dead which took a huge leap beyond the past bugger war. That Orson Scott Card manages to fill this gap and at the same time create a new story within a grand series speaks of his superb skills as a writer with enough imagination and creativity to shape stories within stories, changing, maturing character perspectives and worlds interweaving present, past and future science fiction to thrill both faithful and newly found readers of every persuasion.
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on November 16, 2008