I was a bit worried when I picked up this book whether I would enjoy it as much as Ender's Game. I had read mixed reviews of this book, most indicating that it had gone off on a very different direction, some liking it and some not. However I have to say that, in my opinion at least, this is every bit as good as Ender's Game.
At first I was all to aware of the differences, how Ender had become a man of peace, truth and reconcilliation rather than a man of war, but then the themes in common began to become apparent. Both books are concerned with how man deals with and comes to terms with alien contact. How do we overcome the problems of communication and seemingly insurmountable cultural differences that arise from their starkly different physiologies?
Humanity has come a long way from where it was at the time of the first book. Three thousand years have passed and Ender is no longer regarded as a hero but as the perpetrator of an unforgivable xenocide of the only sentient alien species we ever encountered. Now at last a new sentient species has been discovered and humanity is determined to take a very different approach this time. Indeed, perhaps this approach goes too far to the other extreme? The apparent murder of an xenologer who was studying the "piggies" gives Ender, now a Speaker for the Dead, a chance to redeem himself. Can humanity do better this time?
This is the companion piece to Ender's Game. It completes a story concerned with humanities next difficult step, to reach a level of emotional maturity to accompany our technological maturity, something far more difficult to achieve. Can we look beyond so many apparent differences to see the common essences shared between sentient, purposeful beings to regard them as us, human? And surely there's some parallel between this and the challenges we face right now on earth...