I'll start this by saying I'm a huge Card fan. Ender's Game is my favorite book, and I loved Pathfinder. I counted down the days until this was published, but now I'm left disappointed.
Card's usual depth and complexity are there in the story, and I cannot deny it isn't well written. But he significantly faulted, in my judgement anyways, by making the drama in this book all about the characters and their inabilities to trust each other.
A little bit of resentment towards each others is one thing, but there were whole chapters where the characters would argue or fight or just plain whine the whole time. It was distracting, removed me from the story, and even made me stop listening for chunks at a time. Honestly, it was so bad I wanted to slap the characters. It didn't really feel "real" considering what we'd known about them from the last book.
He's all set up for a climactic book three in which there will hopefully be real drama and conflict. This one felt forced, as though in order to justify a book two he forced out character drama that didn't need to exist and borderline overwhelmed the rest of the story.
I cannot wait for book three and I put my hopes on that one. This one felt as if half of it was unneeded, and downright annoying.
This story, in itself, is fantastic. The world-building, the prose, the characters, all fantastic. Ryan did an amazing job of keeping the story unique (despite all the obvious similarities to another god-send, The Name of the Wind) and keeping the pace going strong. It's a bloody tale full of political intrigue with a main character in Vaelin who COULD have become a Mary Sue but didn't. Absolute applause for Anthony Ryan.
The major letdown is the narration; Steven Brand has an amazing voice and it could have complimented this story fantastically, but he does exactly two voices the entire book. Given that this book doesn't always have "character A said" or "character B inquired", it's often really easy to get lost and have NO idea who is talking. It's a disappointing letdown, but in no way one that should keep you from picking it up.
I am a huge fan of Orson Scott Card, but I, like many of his fans, worry that he's overdoing the series. There comes a point when I hear he is writing a new Enderverse book and I just groan.
That said, the books are always fantastic, and this one may seriously be my second favorite Ender book (aside from Ender's Game, of course). The characters, the plot depth, it's all vintage Card. I expected it to be rushed, but aside from the ending, it wasn't.
The producers always get the best out of a fantastic narrating cast as well. Props to them for continued excellence.
The ending was rushed, yes. We'll have to see in the final two books if the whole thing could have been stuck together in one book, especially considering WE ALL KNOW HOW THIS ENDS. But it wasn't a let down, it's vintage, fantastic Card.
Excellent book, very comical. It wasn't "oh my gawd my sides are splitting" funnybut it was clever, well-developed, kept my interest. Easily recommended.
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