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Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card - Review by Ashlee, Staff Blogger


Enders Game - book coverOne of my favourite novels is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, so I eagerly picked up his Pathfinder hoping for the same kind of experience as I had with Ender’s Game. However, I ended up having mixed feelings about Pathfinder: enjoying some moments but disliking others.

Rigg lives a quiet life in the forest with his father and has a secret special ability to see the paths that every living thing has taken. When his father dies, he has to journey far away to determine his destiny.

From the title and the summary, one might conclude that this is book about, well, path-finding or tracking in some way. It is not. It’s about time travel. The universe is fairly normal except that there are a handful of people with the talent of manipulating the flow of time: Rigg can trace people’s pasts (whether they’re living or dead), his friend Umbo can time travel by speeding up the perception of time, another character can appear invisible due to micro-leaps in time, etc.

Pathfinder - book coverTime travel is interesting but unsettling to me. I’m always concerned that I haven’t quite understood everything that’s occurring. In Pathfinder, Card neatly sidesteps the usual problems with time travel and always manages to explain everything clearly, but unfortunately, he does so in a way that takes a lot of drama out of the time travel and hurts both the story and the character development.

For one, Rigg’s characterization suffered, in part because his father has trained him to be so poised, so manipulative, in political situations that he’s occasionally rather mechanical. But unlike Ender (from Ender’s Game), who was similarly a child genius with excellent leadership skills, Rigg hasn’t had to make the tough decisions that would help him to grow up—it feels like Rigg has already grown up, just without explanation. My favourite character was his friend Umbo, who does transform throughout the novel, growing more brave and determined as the book progresses.

In addition, there is some political rhetoric included that felt out of place in a book otherwise filled with sci-fi fun like mysterious abilities and time-travel shenanigans.Ruins - book cover

So while I enjoyed some of the elements, unfortunately, this novel was not what I was looking for in a sci-fi adventure story.

The second book in the Pathfinder series, Ruins, has been published, and the third book, Visitors, will be out on November 4, 2014.

Ashlee,

Staff Blogger

 

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