Title: Speaker for the Dead
Author: Orson Scott Card
Genre: Fantasy/ Science Fiction
Publication date: 1994
In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War.
Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening… again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery… and the truth.
When I finished the second book of the Ender series, Speaker for the Dead, by Orson Scott Card I was super excited about writing the review. It’s been a long time since a book enchanted me this way – and not by cool action, smart-ass characters or otherworldly magic or creatures. Instead, it was the calm, truthful and extremely powerful themes and questions which Orson Scott Card brought up within the book that took me on a journey that left me breathless. So here I am, writing a review that probably won’t do the book much justice.
I’ll have to admit that the book probably won’t be a good read for everybody. The first book, Ender’s Game, was full of action, intrigues and the promise of war and space battles. It was exciting and quick and the ending was unexpected at best. With the second book most of those things change. The pace slows drastically, war is over and replaced by long-lasting peace and the action and intrigues are replaced by the genuine story about guilt, atonement and redemption. Don’t get me wrong, we still get to go to other worlds and there are other species to fascinate us (the ‘piggies’, but we’ll talk about them more later) but the voice is different, grown, sullen. But so has Ender, in more ways than one.
In Speaker of the Dead the story follows again Andrew ‘Ender’ Wiggin who is now in his mid-thirties, travelling the world and serving as ‘Speaker for the Dead’ for men and women that had died by telling the truth about their lives since they can no longer speak for themselves. One of those calls come from a colony called Lusitania – a settlement with the single purpose of observing a newly discovered sentient species which they call ‘piggies’ as nickname. After the destruction of the buggers, which now, 3000 years later is called Xenocide, the human race is making sure that they don’t repeat the same horrible mistake but also making sure the piggies stay in the underdeveloped state they are – living among trees and eating worms.
We meet many new characters – Pipo and Libo (xenologists, basically alien anthropologists) who find an unexpected end among their subjects; Novinha, a brilliant young orphan girl that works with them; later on, Novinha’s family and many outstanding community members. And of course, Ender – changed, grown, full of regret and determination to make amends and prevent the same suffering from befalling another species.
There are many plotlines in the book, you may say there are whole life stories woven inside. That is what drew me in so much, the depth Card’s attention to detail, to the feelings and thoughts of human beings and aliens alike. I didn’t notice him doing this as much in Ender’s Game but he jumps point of view all the time, using something even third omniscient which is impossibly hard thing to do but it works for him.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the book were the piggies itself. Starting from the funny nickname coming from the fact that they do resemble pigs distantly, and going through their religion, their languages, their ceremonies and way of life. This book is a story about acceptance and forgiveness, about understanding of others and loving them for their differences. Through the book Card points out the difference between the humans and piggies, hinting again and again that we humans have always survival on our mind, domination, control even when we think we are doing good.
I would give Speaker for the Dead the biggest 5-star rating I can. I loved it to pieces.
What about you? Have you read the book? What rating would you give? What are your thoughts and takes on Speaker for the Dead?