Beginning and ending well, there was enough to like about this book
scattered around, but it was tedious in many spots. Valentine’s voyage
getting to know Miro, the riot in the middle of the book, and especially
all the scenes on Path were the highlights, which I looked forward to
though the rest of what appeared to be filler. The philosophical
discussions had me turning the pages to get them over with, as they argued
the same things over and over again, but with different people. I longed
for a book that was seriously contracted..
Very little happens in this book, from action to relationship. In the
previous book, Ender learned all about the Rebeireo family and then went
to see the Peqininos, where he made the discovery of how they move into
their third life, as a tree. It was interesting as we grew to know them.
This book feels like filler. Yes, it takes time to create different
solutions to the problems, but most of the book is about spinning their
Valentine comes to Lusitania, to help Ender in his search
for a solution, but doesn’t do much of anything. She even stops writing
as Demonsthenes after she gets there. Ender watches his adopted family
fall apart, but is powerless to do anything. He goes to talk with the
Hive Queen, who has been very busy increasing her numbers, as well as
building starships. One reason is survival, as the Council of the
Hundred Worlds has sent a ship to Lusitania to destroy the powerful
descolada virus, which is actively destroying everything not native to
the planet. The Peqininos wonder what will happen to them if any of the
groups succeeds, whether to eradicate the virus, which is vital to their
lives as they know it, the advancing fleet, the Hive Queen, or the
Christian missionaries. Ender, meanwhile, worries about the virus
spreading to other planets if the Hive Queen leaves Lusitania, or if the
increasingly agitated Peqininos get off the planet.
half of the book, in which the tension mounts slowly, peaks with one of
the Peqinino trees killing a missionary, one of Ender’s adopted
children. Another of his children starts a riot, which gets out of
control and goes on a killing and burning spree in the nearest Peqinino
colony, rather than the farther one that actually did the killing. It
was probably the best part of the book, but only the parts told from
Grego’s point of view, as he tries to regain control.
aspect of the book is the origin of Jane, the AI who lives among the
ansible network. It turns out she was created by the Hive Queen as part
of the ploy to infiltrate and take over Ender’s mind, and evolved out of
her control as Ender played the Giant game. She lives and can control
the ansibles, and she stops the connection between the doomsday fleet
and the rest of the galaxy. But this alerts people, especially those
working on Path, to her existence, which puts her life at risk. As she
faces the countdown to new computers replacing the old ones she had
“infected”, she contemplates life. That part got stale quite quickly,
but I did like Ender’s attitude, that they could find a way to save her.
While there is no Star Trek ending, where she would be transferred into
another body, it turns out she’s connected to Ender so that she can’t
die completely, though she’ll be seriously hobbled when it happens.
Personally, I thought she’d be “called” into a bugger egg.
was disabled in the last book trying to sneak into the Peqinino’s forest
illegally. Here, he goes out to meet with Valentine, which means he
doesn’t age as the rest of the galaxy ages thirty years. So he comes
home to everyone being seriously older, new families sprouted up, and he
remembers them as their younger selves. The thing is, very few of them
have actually changed, and none of them have made progress in any way.
Miro is a major character, but doesn’t have much impact on the story,
except to stop the rioters from destroying Human and Rooter’s trees.
The story of the characters on the planet Path was completely
separate until about halfway through the book. The author created an
extraordinary culture of obsession, which was by far the most
interesting part of the book. At first it takes place with years-long
interludes, as Valentine progresses on her decades-long voyage to
Lusitania. At this point, we are introduced to Han Fei-tzu, whose wife
dies, and whom he promises to teach their daughter about dedication to
the gods. When she is older, he brings her to a place where she is
forced into confinement to determine if she’s been “touched by the
gods”. The upper echelon of Path believe they have a direct pathway to
the gods, as they go through purification rituals which include extreme
washing, and other OCD behavior.
Qing-jao feels the extreme need
to trace the wood grain on floorboards, sometimes to the extreme of
following them across every floorboard in an entire room. The way Han
Fei-tzu teaches his daughter about the gods allows everything to be
explained by their grace. Even the most extreme behaviors are described
as being influenced by the gods as punishment or reward, because they
never do anything directly. It’s total brainwashing, because it can
justify any behavior.
Qing-jao is tasked with finding out what
happened to the doomsday fleet, and she takes the peasant Wang-mu as her
servant. The point of view starts with Qing-jao, but ultimately shifts
to Wang-mu as the servant becomes more important than the master. Qing-jao
never loses her faith, even after it is revealed that the Council
created their advanced intelligence, but with an intentional
side-effect, the humiliating rituals of purification.
Fei-tzu is converted immediately, and starts to work with Jane and
Ender. They contribute the idea that the descolada is a constructed
virus, but little else. Qing-jao starts working against her father, but
mostly that means ignoring him. She delivers the news about Jane to the
council, and even convinces herself that the cure developed by the
Lusitanians is punishment for the gods. She continues her purifications
though no longer compelled to do them. It was wonderful to see them go
through all the manipulations, and Wang-mu’s stance about her status
compared with her dedication to Qin-jao.
The Rebeiro family is
completely divided, and it’s only when they start working together that
they come up with true solutions. Wang-mu speculates that the descolada
is an engineered virus that got out of hand, and that leads to all sorts
of new research avenues. All at the same time, the family is trying to
communicate with the descolada, replace it with a version of itself that
is not deadly to humans, find a way to travel faster than the speed of
light, find a way to save Jane, and remove the humiliating cleansing
ritual required by the godspoken of Path. By the end of the book, thanks
to the Hive Queen and the way she “calls” souls into her newly formed
children’s bodies, Grego has figured out how to travel anywhere
instantaneously, and they use that no-space to create the new
replacement virus that two of the sisters have managed to formulate.
They spread it over the planet, so it is no longer deadly.
also figure out that Jane is permanently attached to Ender, and that she
can carry the memory of people inside her, which allows them to go and
come back. They can also create things by wishing for it, such as the
virus. But an unintended side-effect is Ender’s subconscious, which
creates two people -Peter and a younger more na´ve version of Valentine.
Presumably these are the titular characters in the next book, Children
of the Mind. For now, Peter exists only to torment Ender, as he once
did, and to reveal his plan to take over the galaxy, becoming Hegemon
all over again. He goes to Path to pick up Wang-mu as his apprentice.
The thing is, as the Council is acting dishonorably, we feel that Peter
might be better off leading the galaxy. Miro chooses to change his body
to the undamaged one.
There were only a few really good parts of
the book, but while the others weren’t bad, they were definitely less
interesting, as the author delves into the meaning of life, and
different opinions of the morals of replacing the descolada, and its
right to live as well. I just found it was too much I was much more
interested in the new characters from Path, and the society that had
been created there. It’s neat how we were able to go from sympathy to
love to sadness for the main character there.