When humanity is under threat from an alien race, Ender Wiggin, at the age of six, leaves his family on Earth to journey to the Belt. There he enters Battle School, where his life is strictly disciplined by mind games and computer mock-battles fought in deadly earnest.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Ender is special. He is a Third - a third child in a world where most families are only allowed two, a third child with a special purpose. The world is doomed unless a leader is found who can attack alien armies already on the move across space. Ender, like his brother Peter and sister Valentine, is some kind of genius. Aged only six he is sent to Battle School and begins intensive training. Continually striving against his classmates, obsessively trialling new strategies for the 'games' that make up so much of his education, he learns rapidly. While Ender is being trained for battle, politicians are predicting wars between terrestrial countries if the invaders are repulsed. Peter and Valentine launch an offensive of their own by contributing articles to leading magazines and websites under false names. Gradually their opinions are adopted by leading thinkers and Peter becomes as powerful as he had all along intended. Ender and Valentine, however, need to escape both his and their own success. This is an absorbing novel, particularly in the sections detailing Ender's single-minded quest for improvement. The contrast between the narrow focus on Ender's training and the wider issues brought to life by Peter and Valentine is highly successful, and the climax of the book combines both strands in a tour-de-force of writing. The characterization - except that of the three children - is sketchy in the extreme, and the plot as a whole relies on considerable suspension of disbelief, but somehow neither of these things matters in comparison with the gripping story of Ender's game. (Kirkus UK)
A rather one-dimensional but mostly satisfying child-soldier yarn which substantially extends and embellishes one of Card's better short stories (Unaccompanied Sonata and Other Stories, 1980). Following a barely-defeated invasion attempt by the insect-like alien "buggers," a desperate Earth command resorts to genetic experimentation in order to produce a tactical genius capable of defeating the buggers in round two. (A counterinvasion has already been launched, but will take years to reach the buggers' home planet.) So likable but determined "Ender" Wiggins, age six, becomes Earth's last hope - when his equally talented elder siblings Peter (too vicious and vindictive) and Valentine (too gentle and sympathetic) prove unsuitable. And, in a dramatic, brutally convincing series of war games and computer-fantasies, Ender is forced to realize his military genius, to rely on nothing and no-one but himself. . . and to disregard all rules in order to win. There are some minor, distracting side issues here: wrangles among Ender's adult trainers; an irrelevant subplot involving Peter's attempt to take over Earth. And there'll be no suspense for those familiar with the short story. Still, the long passages focusing on Ender are nearly always enthralling - the details are handled with flair and assurance - and this is altogether a much more solid, mature, and persuasive effort than Card's previous full-length appearances. (Kirkus Reviews)