Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card is the second book in Ender’s Saga. What we have here is the sequel to the popular Ender’s Game, where Ender Wiggins has defeated the Buggers and promptly disappeared. This takes place around 3000 years after the Bugger War, and Ender is back. If you’re expecting more of the same as Ender’s Game, you have a big surprise coming. It’s nothing like the original book. It may even be better.
Ender Wiggin is now a Speaker for the Dead, a non-denominational non-religious person who digs up information about the recently dead and publically gives their life story from an unbiased position. That means the good and the bad are laid out for everyone to hear. He’s older than he was in Ender’s Game, and his sister Valentine is also older, having travelled with him, and so they are much wiser. Ender’s been asked to be a speaker for someone who died on the world of Lusitania, where a small community is set up to study the Piggies, a kind of sentient life. The community is Catholic, but as Ender is not, there’s a lot of resistance. Andrew Wiggin is well-known as a Speaker for the Dead, and is quite respected. Ender is the Xenocide, the man reviled for being the one who killed an entire species. Even though they are the same person, Ender is from 3000 years earlier, so no one connects the two. It makes an interesting conflict between the two personas. Novinha is an interesting character, being withdrawn from everyone, which makes it quite the challenge for Ender. Her children are a diverse group, from those who hate Ender, to those who trust him deeply. Jane plays Ender’s source of information and is a useful tool to get his way with anything. However, apart from Ender, the stars are the Piggies. Card does a great job portraying an alien species and their culture.
The story is at times very dark and violent. But there are reasons for the violence, and it’s not understood until later in the book. The secrets and lack of communication really help keep the suspense and interest level high. Who are these Piggies? Are they good or bad? With a lot of conflict happening between various parties, there’s no level of comfort, though as in Ender’s Game, Ender seems to know the right thing to say and do, although it does create a lot of turmoil.
The setting is pretty simple and very confined. It takes place mostly on Lusitania, in the village, and with the Piggies. I felt that I got to know the community quite well, and could picture it nicely in my mind. With such a small area, I got to know it intimately. I thought that was well done.
Card’s style and length of his novels makes them easy and quick to read. This was quite the departure from Ender’s Game, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Speaker for the Dead may arguably be better. I thought it was. I give this 4 1/2 stars out of 5. It is highly recommended!