Monday, July 21, 2014

Librarian's Corner: Xenocide


by: Orson Scott Card 

So far the theme of "Librarian's Corner" seems to be: books I've been meaning to read for a very long time. This month's pick was a graduation present from my best friend, 8 years ago. I read Ender's Game in middle school (several times, in fact) and had read both of its sequels (Ender's Shadow and Speaker for the Dead) in high school. Ender's Game is the first book in two separate series: Ender's Saga and the Shadow Series. Xenocide is the third book in the Ender's Saga (following Speaker). I suppose that I should put in a disclaimer here, that since this book is the third in a series, there will be some spoilers for the first two books.

Xenocide picks up where Speaker for the Dead leaves off, with the humans and the piggies reaching a tentative peace, Ender/Andrew marrying Novinha, Miro heading out to space to meet Valentine and her husband Jakt, the Hive Queen comfortably settled and the entire planet of Lusitania in rebellion against Starways Congress. But Xenocide doesn't take us immediately back to Lusitania, instead we are taken to the world of Path where we meet Han Fei-tzu and his godspoken family.

It's hard to describe exactly what exactly I love about this book. Besides the fact that it follows brilliantly on the heels of a novel that is at its heart about humanity and how we treat one another. Ender's Game is ostentiably about Ender and his struggles to discover himself when he is being groomed to be the next great military leader. Speaker for the Dead also follows the journey of Ender, now Andrew, as he re-invents himself as a Speaker, telling the lives of others in order to avoid the truth of his own past.
In Xenocide Card has managed to weave together so many different stories into one remarkable narrative. We learn the stories of the piggies and the buggers. We learn about how Novinha and her family have both changed and remained much the same over the course of 30 years. And we have the story of Han Fei-tzu, his daughter Qing-jao, her secret-main Wang-mu and their own struggle for self-actualization in the face of the grand plans of Starways Congress.

But most importantly is the theme of xenocide that runs throughout the entire book. The threat of xenocide looms in front of piggie and bugger alike, as well as the potential xenocide of the descolada virus, and the threat of Jane's extinction. Which species is on the brink of extinction seems to shift back ad forth throughout the novel, and things are never quite what we think they are.

Xenocide is the middle book in the "Speaker" trilogy, followed by Children of the Mind, which I'm in the middle of reading right now. I don't know what I waited 8-9 years between reading Speaker and its sequel, but I'm not wasting another minute finishing up the series. And when I'm done with the Speaker series, there's always the other books, the Shadow series, started off with Ender's Shadow. I know that I've got plenty of reading ahead of me (especially since Card is still producing books in both series), so I better get to it.

So that's it for this month's Librarian's Corner, stay tuned for another installment on August 21st! In the mean time, have you guys read Xenocide of any of the Ender books? I'd love to hear your thoughts about them, you can post here in the comments! And of course, I'd love to hear about whatever else you're reading! Keep checking back over the next month for more things I'm doing.

Happy Reading!

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