Book Review: Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

09 Dec

Two weeks ago when I first posted about Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card, I didn’t look carefully at the book details on Amazon. I took what my Kindle was telling me at face value, meaning I thought the book was written by Card and by Sammy Yuen Jr.

In reading the sample, I could totally see a second hand in the novel. Yes, the book was typically Card with a highly analytical super-intelligent teenaged boy with dubious father figures around him, but it was more hard-science than I normally see from Card and later, when reading the full book I felt there were slips in the point of view at times, confirming that the veteran Card wasn’t the only person writing the book.

Turns out the Kindle info is incorrect.

Yuen is the cover artist. I don’t know why my Kindle lists him as a co-author. He’s not. The book is all Card.

Funny how what we believe to be true creates reality. I was sure there was a second author and found “proof” of that even though there wasn’t any to be found.

Pathfinder is a bit like that. It’s about time and perception and changing those perceptions to change reality and to change the flow of time itself.

If you liked Card’s other books like Songmaster, the Ender saga or the Bean series, you’ll enjoy this book. There’s also the idea of technology taking charge of humanity that we saw in his Homecoming saga. It’s what Card does best – put us in the mind of a highly advanced child and shows us the psychology of the adults around him or her. With the added hard science, however, it makes the read slightly different from normal Card fare, adding something new to the mix.

There are, however, a couple of things that I didn’t feel quite up to Card’s normal level of quality. When we’re following the point of view of the main character Rigg we’re right inside his head and we sense and feel everything he does. It’s clear and it’s obvious. That’s not the case, however, when Card switches the point of view to the secondary characters, Rigg’s companions. At times I felt that these point of view switches existed only because Rigg wasn’t present in the scenes and not because Card really wanted to use these characters. In a few scenes I wasn’t even sure from which character the scene was supposed to be taking place. The focus was very distant and almost seemed to jump between the two. It was a minor annoyance, however, and didn’t diminish my joy in reading the book.

I found the ending of the novel a much bigger annoyance. The book is the beginning of a new series, which about halfway through the book I figured out. That, however, isn’t the annoying part. The irritating part is the way it ends. Yes the characters achieve their main objective and yes we have some answers to the questions created throughout the book, but the way Card ends the novel felt more like a chapter ending than an ending to a book. There isn’t enough resolution to the current situation. The characters learn about what they have to do next and say “okay, let’s go do it” and then the book ends. If I’m expected to wait the year or so it normally takes for a sequel to come out, then I want a bit more closure, please.

Don’t let that put you off, however. It’s a wonderful book that explores some pretty cool science fiction ideas. And as with the best books, I had no desire to put it down, finding whatever odd moment I could to read a page or two more.

You can download a copy of Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card onto your Kindle via Amazon.

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Posted by on December 9, 2010 in Book Reviews


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