After a long hiatus during the holiday break, Tuesday’s Odd Shelf returns. The Nightmare King is currently processing and should be up as soon as Amazon gives me the a-okay.
I read a lot of books over the break, but I’ve chosen to highlight two–the first two parts of a fantasy series by Orson Scott Card called Pathfinder and Ruins.
I have a funny liking/disliking for Card’s books. Speaker for the Dead remains in my top five of all-time favorite books. I also love Enchanted and Homebody, and few other standalone works. The problem I occasionally run into with Orson Scott Card is the man is really, really smart, and simultaneously religious, political and philosophical–which sometimes means his narratives get deeper than my puny mortal understanding can comprehend and I toss the book aside with a slight headache.
The Pathfinder series walks this line beautifully well. For an introduction to this series, I direct you to the short, dramatic-music-included book trailer:
So, like a lot of Card’s younger protagonists Rigg is thirteen, but is about eighty times smarter than me (a twenty-four year old almost college grad). But whatever. I’m guessing Card was equally obnoxious and brilliant at that age.
You like Rigg for the same reason you like Ender. Smart, overly-qualified kid–who is pressured by a lot of responsibility he never signed up for. The reason I recommend these books on Odd Shelf is, for one, the world-building is brilliantly handled. The time-traveling science Card sets up is enough to make your brain melt out your ears, but by the end of the book, I understood. Sometimes information significant to the plot is first mentioned over halfway through the book. But that’s the way to do it, when you don’t want to overload readers with complicated science. Babysteps. Let them get used to the weirdness. It’s a great example of integrating a workable learning curve.
The other reason it’s worth studying is the same for nearly all of Card’s books. The characters are wonderfully multi-dimensional. You can hate and love them in the same chapter and that’s how real people are. Honest and dishonest at the same time. Full of courage and cowardice in equal parts. Card usually portrays the reality of humanity in a way I find refreshing.
Worth a read, my friends. But as a warning–if you’re not into fantasy and science fiction . . . read Homebody instead.