Reviews of science fiction and other types of novels.
Ender in Exile is the sequel to Orson Scottís card award winning Enderís Game. However, it is also a prequel to his equally award winning Speaker for the Dead. So, if you are a fan of Cardís novels, you may find little here in the way suspense knowing how things will eventually turn out for the protagonist, Andrew ďEnderĒ Wiggin. Iíve actually never read any of Cardís other books. So, I had the advantage of being able to be surprised by the events of Ender in Exile. Also, not having read Game was not a problem as conversations in the first few chapters do a great job of cluing the reader in to the events preceding novel.
As the novel opens, Ender has just won the war between humanity and an alien race known as the Formics. In fact, his strategies have lead to the apparently complete annihilation of the Formics. Considered too politically hot to bring back to earth, Ender winds up heading for the stars. He is to be the governor of a former Formic world, now human colony. The journey is to take two years during which Ender chooses to remain awake so he can come to terms with his actions in the preceding novel as well as ponder just why the Formics appeared to make such an obvious tactical blunder that enabled him to win the war. On his journey he is joined by his sister Valentine who wants to help him come to terms with his identity. Meanwhile, back on earth Enderís Brother plots to take over the world.
This novel had much the same feel as Frank Herbertís Dune. Not only is the protagonist is a young man whose exceptional qualities place him above humanity, but the story also emphasizes the human aspect of the future rather than dwelling on technology or science. Each characterís actions are driven by their separate, usually hidden agendas, and there is a great deal of contemplation and scheming within the characters conversations and thoughts.
Exile is a must for the thoughtful, philosophical sci-fi type reader but not so much for the action fan. While Game may have been a novel involving an interstellar war, Ender in Exile is much more about one personís introspective journey. Also, it does suffer a bit though from being a bridge novel in that there is little in the way of resolution by the end, but, knowing that there is more to the story, itís not too much of a problem.
Constance Fairchild loses her parents when she is 14. With only a few distant relatives surviving, including her enormously wealthy and mysterious grandfather, she is sent to a boarding school in Lucerne. Soon after, she determines that the strange visions that she sees are memories of a previous life. In deed, she even finds hard proof that she was a computer security consultant that died shortly before she was born.
Constance's life at the school is far from normal. Someone is bugging her room, and she's being followed. Soon, to make matters worse, her acquaintances and friends start turning up dead. It's up to her and knowledge remembered from her former life to figure out just what is going on.
Smith writes well for a first time Novelist. The style is straight forward and easy to follow, while the first person point of view makes it easy to sympathize with the protagonist. The pace is a bit slow at first as Constance adjusts to her life at the school in Lucerne, but it picks up in the second half.
One issue I had was that the reincarnation theme really only impacts the plot at the beginning and end. It's kind of forgotten through the majority of the novel where it seems to do little more than to serve as a reason for Constance to philosophize.
I was also a little bit disappointed at the climax when the two main antagonists meet their resolution "off stage", so to speak. Rather than being seen or experienced by the protagonist, their plot outcomes are merely discussed in retrospect.
Mills has suspense to spare and the mystery is not one you're likely to guess to soon. There is also a good helping of poetry sprinkled in to spice things up. The Mills of God is an intriguing read whose suspense, philosophy and speculative aspects will keep the reader engaged and introspective.