Three thousand years ago, Ender Wiggin completely destroyed the alien race known as the Buggers. Ender disappeared after and was reviled for this xenocide: the total destruction of the only other known race of sentient beings known in the galaxy. A powerful voice - the Speaker for the Dead - came to be heard: telling the true story of the Bugger War.
A new race of beings was discovered on the recently settled planet of Lusitania. This discovery, of a race the humans called the Pequininos, (also known as `the Piggies') was seen as an opportunity to atone for the destruction of the Buggers. And thus, to avoid any tragic misunderstandings that might lead to war, strict rules have been put in place to prevent the human colonists from influencing the evolution of the piggies. Only trained xenobiologists are permitted to interact with the Piggies, and contact is limited.
`The piggies were not to be disturbed.'
Over time, two xenobiolologists are killed by the Piggies in what appears to be a bizarre fashion. One consequence of each death is that a Speaker for the Dead is called for a different member of the colony. A Speaker is summoned, and travels to Lusitania. In order to speak for the dead, he also has to understand the living and this includes both the Piggies and the human colonists.
It happens that the Speaker who responds to the request is the original Speaker for the Dead, Ender Wiggin himself, and he has another mission as well.
`On his starship, Ender Wiggin had no notion of the freight of other people's dreams he carried with him.'
I thoroughly enjoyed this sequel to `Ender's Game', and am looking forward to reading the third novel in this series. This book could be read and enjoyed on its own, but I'd strongly recommend reading the series in order. Orson Scott Card has created a fierce, complex world occupied by beings with a mixture of historical, contemporary and likely future problems.
on January 17, 2004
This sequel to "Ender's Game" is an entirely different kind of novel, although it follows directly from the conclusion of the first book. Ender Wiggin is now thirty-five, while three thousand years have passed in the universe during his light-speed sojourns. (Card very poignantly explorers the emotional consequences of space travel that keeps the journeyer young while everyone he knows ages decades. See Haledman's "The Forever War" for a similar exploration of this idea.) The action occurs on the Portuguese colony planet Lusitania, where the humans struggle to understand the native race, the 'piggies,' without interfering with them. Ender arrives to investigate the deaths of two xenologists at the piggies' hands.
The real concern of the book is a human confrontation with a completely alien society and ecosystem, which leads to a reevaluation of the assumptions of how we treat that which is different from us. In this way, the book has much in common with Le Guin's "The Left Hand of Darkness," but has less of the book's subtlety. Nonetheless, Card makes the story effective through his focus on the family conflicts tied up in the Lusitania crisis, and his message against biological imperialism and genocide in the name of safety is a potent one today. A deserving, award-winning novel. If you read "Ender's Game," prepare to be surprised all over again.
on January 8, 2004
I really enjoyed Ender's Game, so when I picked up speaker of the dead, I expected it to be something along the same vein. Well, you can imagine my disappointment, when, instead of a military-themed story set in space, we get a 'murder mystery' and a 'Christ-like' Ender Wiggin out to redeem everyone whether they like it or not. Ech.
The plot centers around the mysterious Piggies, and their strange habit of murdering people in a really gruesome manner. (I can't imagine how any true anthropologist could find this mystery all that surprising). Ender is called to witness the death of one of the science team, and finds himself embroiled in an almost ridiculously complicated melodrama involving a scientist, her deceased abusive hubbie and her bastard children.
While I did enjoy Speaker of the dead, the psychobabble, self-loathing (on most most noticeably Ender and Noviniah), got tiresome. I also disliked that Ender Wiggin's transformed (in between books) into the Doctor Laura of the star waves. This was seriously annoying. Wiggin, the master of 'tough love' decides what's best for everyone, whether they like it or not.
Erk. What if Ender is wrong? But of course he NEVER is.
A good book, despite the flaws, I've mentioned. However, I personally could have done without the psychobabble and soapboxing.
on December 14, 2003
For those familiar with Ender's Game, this is a must-read, though it is most certainly not the same high-action level. A quieter, even more subtle read than EG, with some plots choices I didn't favor. As a Speaker for the Dead, Ender is no longer known as "the" Ender, but as his true name, Andrew Wiggin. A new alien species has been discovered on another planet. The "piggies" are most likley intellegent, but due to government laws and clashing cultures, there is an enormous misunderstanding. Ender comes out to Lusitania to speak at the death of one of the researchers, but when he does, he uncovers much more than he could have anticipated...A slower story, with almost all new characters in a new world, this will definatly change your perspective. I would have appriciated some of the old gang back, and a more familiar world. I didn't feel the emotional attachment to these characters that I did in Ender's Game/Shadow, but it was still a well written book, and definatly worth the time.
on March 18, 2003
All right, so you've read Ender's Game. You loved it, you loved everything about it. You want more. You rush to the bookstore to find Speaker for the Dead. One small problem: Speaker for the Dead is nothing like Ender's Game.
Ender's Game was a story about a boy and his growth and struggle through the tough times at Battle School, and the war he fights without knowing it's real.
Speaker is set about 3,000 years later. Ender's about 30, this made possible by some quirk of interstellar travel. As a Speaker for the Dead, he comes to Lusitania to speak the death of several people, members of the family intimately connected with the pequininos, the indigenous aliens dubbed the Portuguese equivalent of "piggies". Together with Jane, the sentient computer, the sleeping Hive Queen, and the help of his sister Valentine several light-years away, Andrew (as he now calls himself) must puzzle his way through the deaths and the whys of Novinha's tempestuous family.
It's a good book, but it's a lot different from Ender's Game. Fans of that genre may not like Speaker as much. A good alternative is to read Ender's Shadow, the parallel novel about Bean, set at roughly the same time as Ender's Game. Either way, you get an excellent book.
on January 24, 2003
This was an interesting follow up to Ender's Game. Three-thousand years later, Ender, the hero of the world, is now the most despised person in human history. Often, he is referred to simply as the Xenocide. Ender has now spent his life travelling the stars and has left his infamous past behind. Now he is known as Speaker for the Dead, and goes throughout the Hundred Worlds, speaking the lives of those who have died. But he carries a secret, the last remaining Hive Queen of the world he destroyed. A call from a planet with a life form that seems almost human sends Ender on a mission to prevent the next Xenocide, and to undo the past Xenocide.
This made for an interesting read. A lot of the book was taken up discussing philisophical issues, especially Ender's Xenocide 3000 years earlier. Space travel has allowed him to stay young and see civilization change around him. The "piggies", the race of beings on Lusitania that humans are trying to study, are interesting, but in the end, their way of life and planet seem a little far fetched and the last few chapters require you to suspend disbelief. Still, if you are a fan of Ender, then I would suggest getting this book.
on October 28, 2002
There's no way to write about "Speaker" without mentioning "Ender's game". Although OS Card, in his personal comments always says "Speaker" was the story he imagined as his "opera prima", and "Ender's game" was just an introduction, a short story, in my opinion those roles were reverted. "Ender's game" is science fiction at its prime, fast paced, interesting characters and situations. "Speaker for the dead", although using the same main character, is totaly different, mostly in its rhythm and in its purposal.
Lusitania is the only of the 100 human-colonized worlds where Man has found another intelligent species. The "piggies" or Little Ones, as they are called, are way down in the technological scale, and the Starways Congress has a very strict set of rules to deal with the Little Ones, after the disastrous first encounter of Humans - Alien Species, described in the war against the Buggers in "Ender's game".
"Speaker" is set three thousand years after "Ender's game". "Ender" is a forbidden word, related to xenocide, something humanity must avoid commiting a second time. Nobody knows that Andrew Wiggin is the original Xenocide and the original Speaker for the Dead. Traveling among the colonized worlds, he is able to live three milleniums because of Relativity.
"Speaker for the dead" deals with the main families and people of Lusitania, a world colonized by catholic brazilians. There, the zenadores and xenobiologists must deal with the Little Ones, and these functions are passed through the families, father to son. But the two main families, Pipo's and Novinha's have conturbed lives. And it is in the middle of these troubled times that Ender, the Speaker for the dead, is called to speak the death of the first Zenador, Pipo, tragically murdered by the Little Ones. Ender has a new chance to combine humanity and a new sentient species.
Although an interesting story, those who liked "Ender's game" will not accept at first the radical change of style Card goes through. "Speaker for the dead" has not the allucinating chapters and battles, and sometimes the story just drags on. This is, though, a very beautiful and well-though story. I will read "Xenocide", no doubt about it. I think that books should be rated by the story they contain alone, no comparison to other books. But in this case I will make an exception, and rate this one within the series (compared to "Ender's game"). That's why I gave it 4 stars.
Just another thing: "Speaker for the dead" is set in Lusitania, a portuguese-speaking world. Being from Brazil, and a portuguese speaker, I know how difficul it is for an english-speaking person to learn and understand portuguese, since it's a very complex language, one of the most complex of the latin languages. Card does a good job in trying to explain the basics of portuguese in the introduction of the book, though there are some serious mistakes in pronunciation and writing. There are some mistakes in the names of some of the characters, mainly the name of the Mayor of Lusitania: Faria Lima Maria do Bosque. "Faria Lima" is a compose last name, and "Maria" a first name. I think this is not an intentional mistake; the correct name should be Maria Faria Lima do Bosque. Card is right to give nicknames to his lusitanian characters, since in Brazil and also in Portugal it is a common practice. There are other minor mistakes regarding portuguese language and brazilian culture. But the major mistake is this: in one of the first pages, Card says that the habitants of Lusitania are "brazilian by culture". Well if they are brazilian, they would NEVER name their planet after Portugal's historical name. We brazilians have strong cultural and historical bonds with our ancient colonizers, but to name a planet with such a Portugal-reminding word is something brazilians would never do.
on October 9, 2002
I bought this novel with a little trepidation. There were, in my mind, some glaring story holes revealed in the synopsis of the book, and I just did not see that there was anything to add to the story told in Ender's Game. I was pleasantly surprised.
What I found was much more than Ender's Game. Indeed, it is obvious from this story (and the foreword) that Speaker was the book Card was working on when he wrote EG. EG was the back-story necessary for the real meat of Ender Wiggins, Speaker for the Dead. The most disturbing point that drew me away from buying Speaker was that it takes place 3000 years after Ender drops the last bomb on the buggers. Surprisingly, this is resolved neatly and without too much need for suspension of disbelief. In short, thank Einstein.
The story itself examines Ender's redemption of his participation in the Xenocide within the context of First Contact with the piggies. The piggies are sufficiently different, both biologically and socially, to be a fascinating mystery, and understanding their differences prompts the introspection necessary to consider why other cultures on this planet choose to do things that seem so irrational.
It is a very moving story with characters that (mostly) act with 3d realism. A surprising number of characters are sketched in detail that clearly distinguishes them from each other. This is no small accomplishment for an author. One of the high points is Ender's speech as the Speaker for the Dead. In it he speaks for a deceased man who the community almost universally regards as a mean-spirited worthless drunk. However, when Ender reveals the dead man's perspective of his own life, you get the sense that we should take care in our judgments of others.
With four stars its not surprising that there are some problems. The first - far too much Portuguese. All the Portuguese words and names interfere with a smooth read, and just do not seem necessary. If we were reading a story that took place in France, sure throw the French at me, but not out here where it adds nothing to feel of the book.
The other problem is that a huge portion of the plot hinges on the irrational concealment of a biological discovery. The character that hides this discovery acts so out of character in doing so, that it is obviously a weak plot device the author hoped to just "slip in" without our notice. This turn does not ruin the book, in fact most of the better aspects of this novel turn on this point, but I do wish Card could have found a better way to achieve it.
I especially enjoyed the forword included in the version that I read. This bit in particular is great reading for would-be writers, but should be left until after finishing the story as it reveals too many clues to the plot.
All in all it is a very good read, and recommeded for any SCI/FI fan.
on July 27, 2002
I've always found most sequals to have little or nothing to do with the original. I've always read the first book, then gone right on to read the second only to be gravely dissapointed. This was not lite that at all, though. You do not need to read the first book in this series (Ender's Game) to know what's going on in this book (though I would- it gives you a bit more background and it's an amazing book). This book is so cool in that it's science fiction (not my favorite) but it has great mystery elements, some romance, and cool anthropology and biology stuff in it. Unlike the first book, Ender's Game, this book does require a more sci-fi mind. You have to be willing to put the limitations we have in our world today on hold and let your imagination go with this book. At times, it was a stretch for me because I do not tend to like science fiction and things that don't seem possible. But this book, like Ender's Game, didn't feel so out there that I wasn't thinking of it as something that could happen. This was a great book. I read it like it was possible, because it felt possible, but yet the things that were happening obviously have not happened and could not happen with the technology we have now. The characters feel real and everything that happens to them you feel and can totally empathize. The story is a great one, and the little twists in the story make it all the more exciting. This is not only a great sequal, but it is a great book by itself. Speaker for the Dead does a wonderful job of creating two very different species and developing their differences and simmilarities. Another great book in the series. The Ender Series is terrific!
on March 26, 2002
Having read the first book in the series of which this is the second, I was quite anxious to see where the story went next. The first book, "Ender's Game" was a true sci-fi action novel which, to date, is the best I have read. Knowing this, I was more than ready to see where the hero of the story went next.
Alas, the author seems to have taken a radical departure from the style of the first book. "Speaker for the Dead" is a much more slowly developed story with much deeper characters. The story seems to be more deliberately developed, with quite a large portion of the book devoted to a back-story.
Once adjusted to the different style of book, I became intrigued by the newly introduced characters, and the dilemmas they face on this far away colony on a planet habitated by a completely foreign race. It is an interesting statement on how the humans react and treat the foreign race ... one that I would find entirely plausible.
Eventually, the main character makes a trip to the planet to learn the story of both a recently-passed human, but also to understand the interaction of the person with the foreign race. The hero eventually tears down the barriers (literally and figuratively) between the races and essentially turns the whole coloney on its ear.
The story is very well told, with outstanding character development, and scenery description. Card does a great job of capturing the emotions of the moment. He also does a great job of conveying the technology aspects of the sci-fi novel without obsessing on them or letting them get in the way of the story. It is a great balance.
What I found somewhat difficult was the love-story sewn into the novel. I thought that it was rather 'convenient' and perhaps could have been more fully developed.
Other than that minor nit, it was a very good read, and I look forward to continuing on the series.