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Songmaster [Mass Market Paperback]

Orson Scott Card
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 15 1992
A haunting story of power and love--a tale of the man who would destroy everything he loves to preserve humanity's peace, and the boy who might just sing the world away.

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Product Description

From Library Journal

Card here offers the tale of Ansset, a young boy whose perfect singing voice has the power of amplifying people's emotions, making him both a potential healer and destroyer. This is the first hardcover incarnation of the 1988 award-winning novel.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Card understands the human condition and has things of real value to say about it. He tells the truth well--ultimately the only criterion of greatness."--Gene Wolfe

"Orson Scott Card is a fine writer, with great insight, great idealism and love."--Science Fiction Review on Songmaster
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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There were many ways a child could turn up in the baby market of Doblay-Me. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Song of Power Aug. 3 2004
Format:Paperback
Card seems to have a predilection for having child protagonists. But not just any children, rather children who are special, who are prodigies, who in many ways are far stronger than most adults. This book is no exception, with Ansset as the premier Songbird of his day. Songbirds are specially trained child singers, trained in not just the basics of music, but more importantly in how to read the emotional makeup of their audience and express it in their songs.
Ansset is assigned to be the Songbird for the Emperor Mikal, a brutal man who thinks nothing of wiping out the entire population of a planet to further his ends. But the end Mikhal is driving toward is lasting peace throughout the galaxy - a truly benevolent dictator. It is just this moral ambiguity that Ansset sees and understands, just as he can understand, accept, and reciprocate the love of Josif, a bisexual who can only be attracted to one person at time.
In fact, there are no hard and fast moral laws laid down in this book. (...), kidnapping, assassination, murder, homosexuality, (...), devotion, political machinations, and, yes, even true love all receive an examination here, and each item is shown in more than one light. A good part of this book's strength lies within these examinations, which are shown by the events and people Ansset is exposed to, rather than by any sort of expository dialogue. The rest of the strength lies within the raw emotion that sings throughout this book, an almost poetic handling of what would be in lesser hands a very ugly set of happenings. Characterization is excellent, for not just Ansset but also all the players around him: Mikal, Ricktors, Esste, Kya-Kya - each are unique individuals that breathe life into this work.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sing, Ansset, Sing! Nov. 11 2003
By Rosebud
Format:Paperback
"I will never hurt you.
I will always help you.
If you are hungry
I'll give you my food.
If you are frightened
I am your friend.
I love you now
And love does not end."
It is very rare for an author to make himself as vulnerable as Card has in his marvelous book, Songmaster. One of his first books, Songmaster reveals the author's intense preoccupation with beauty and pleasure -- and how a person might go about satisfying his desire for such things.
Ansset is described as the type of boy that men (and, to a lesser degree, women) love to look at. Can you be any more blunt than that, Orson? At one level, this book is a sensitive portrayal of so-called "pedophilic" love -- in an emotional, physical and spiritual, but not a sexual, sense.
Card's greatest virtue is his greatest vice. He is always and everywhere trying to UNDERSTAND the experience of the individual. This makes the reader have to guess at Card's moral and political opinions.
Card paints a picture of reality brilliantly, just like his protagonist, Ansset. But we never get to see the real and authentic song of Orson Scott Card, behind all the masks he wears.
Card is a brutally honest man. He is a storyteller. He is a poet. He is Ender. He is Ansset. He is a singer of songs.
But when will we hear his own song, I wonder?
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Format:Paperback
I have never read a Card novel before this one. I've heard much of his Ender saga, but never got around to reading him until I saw Songmaster in a local bookstore. As a music student, I'm delighted when I have the rare opportunity of finding a fantasy/SF novel in which music plays a central roll.
Songmaster's premise as a novel well written is undeniable. Card's prose is stark, full of shocking realism and moments of real beauty that seem to transcend the plot into a spiritual dimension. As I read on, I found myself caring about what happened to Ansset more than any character I've cared about in a while. His predicaments and trials are unfathomable for me to think any man or woman surviving, much less a little child!
Yet the moral struggles Ansset faced (his failed homosexual relationship to Josef being a major one) move through the story
unanswered. At the end of the novel, when old Ansset reflects upon his life, the questions remain unanswered; no clear lines of right and wrong are drawn. However, when the story is approached as Card probably intended,(as a myth)one can see the consequences of the choices made by the characters, especially in the tragic figure of Josef, for example. Josef's love for Kyaren came into conflict with his homosexual desire for Ansset. He knew in his heart he could not have both -that he was at the crossroads of a moral choice, no matter what others told him. His end was tragic, his death an act of hopelessness, giving great anxiety and guilt to all those that loved him. It brings up the question of what is true, and transcendant love all about? If his love was true and transcendant and not based on lust, would his life have ended that way?
Anyway, I loved the book. Though Card is a Mormon, you can sense it only slightly in the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A younger, rougher Card May 16 2003
Format:Paperback
Orson Scott Card's stories and novels always carry a moral message. In his more recent, in-print publications, the moral message is often very clear and up front, and while he's hardly someone who uses a formula to write his books, he does have a very strong method and set ideas about what he wants from literature. But back when he wrote Songmaster, he was still finding his way. As with most of his early work, his characters here face far more immediate violence, pain, and hardship than in his later books, and while their responses can be somewhat uneven, the result is, from my perspective at least, a far more moving read than the smooth, knowing Card of today. This younger, rougher, less morally bound Card is worth checking out.
There's no denying the similarities between this book and Ender's Game. Yes, the main character is a male prodigy who struggles to learn and grow in emotional isolation. But all four of Card's major series begin with such a character (Ender, Bean, Alvin, and Nafai), and it's when he's writing about these remarkable children that Card does his best work. They're far more interesting than his adult characters because they genuinely don't know what to do when facing a problem -- every important decision they make is based on the information they have at hand, not any prior set of beliefs. This, plus their genius, makes them remarkably unpredictable and allows us to re-evaluate out own beliefs. Ansset, the "hero" of Songmaster, is no exception.
Card explores homosexuality in this novel, a topic he hasn't really braved since then, and an interesting choice given his Mormonism. The results may initally seem ambiguous -- after all, bisexual Josef suffers tremendously and commits suicide as a result of his failed encounter with Ansset.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Captivating and entertaining
It was an interesting new paradigm on magic, compelling and yet quite deep. I enjoyed the book immensely. Card shows great imagination!
Published 7 months ago by Lou101
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful service - great product
This is my absolute favourite book even thopugh it is out of print now, when I found it I ordered it right away. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2010 by Teresa Rempel-mroz
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but unsure...
I did enjoy the book, and agree with someone else in that the book depicts characters that love singing and music but the book itself is lyrical. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Another compelling OSC novel
ï¿Songmasterï¿ is, as usual, an ambitious work of sci-fi from the pen of Orson Scott Card. Read more
Published on April 22 2003 by Plaque
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story
I would highly reccomend this novel to any fan of OSC. In his typically excellent style Card tells a fascinating, if somewhat sentimental, sci-fi story. Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2003
2.0 out of 5 stars A Disappointment
I have loved many of Orson Scott Card's books, but I couldn't even finish this one. I was very disappointed, and I'm very surprised by the positive reviews I've read. Read more
Published on Aug. 16 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably my favorite Card novel
I've always been a fan of Orson Scott Card (that is, until I read The Folk of the Fringe) and this was not the first book of his that I read. Read more
Published on July 15 2002 by scifiman5
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