Thursday, February 11, 2010

Review - The Authorized Ender Companion by Jake Black

The Authorized Ender Companion by Jake Black
published 2009
432 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

Now, for the first time, in THE AUTHORIZED ENDER COMPANION (A Tor hardcover; November 2009), fans will be able to explore the first complete and in-depth encyclopedia of all the persons, places, things and events in Orson Scott Card’s beloved Ender Universe. This long-awaited volume was written by Jake Black under the editorial supervision of Card himself, who was recently awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature from the American Library Association.

Highlights include the first full timeline of the Ender series, character biographies, colony histories, family trees, and ten black & white illustrations. The encyclopedia answers questions fans have had for decades: Where did Ender go when he left Earth, before he arrived at Lusitania? What did the battle room really look like and how did it work? What people discovered the descolada, and what is their story? What was the history of Gloriously Bright’s world?

But one of the most incredible parts of this compilation is the section devoted to letters from readers. The letters range from young readers who saw themselves in the characters—especially in Ender—to adults on active military duty, who gained courage from the novel to continue specialized training in the army and to serve overseas. The letters express gratitude to Card and love for Ender’s Game, a novel that many say changed their lives . . .

My thoughts:

If you are a fan of the Ender series, this book is a jackpot. I have no problem admitting that I haven't yet read it from cover to cover - I don't know that it's the kind of book meant to be utilized in that way. What I have done, however, is spend several hours over the course of a couple of days jumping from entry to entry in the encyclopedia-like volume, remembering people and ideas I've loved from the series, and discovering new insights I hadn't yet explored.

Jake Black is clearly a fan of the series - you can sense his affection for the characters as you read his descriptions of their lives and loves. The amount of research that went into this book is astounding. Black has basically summarized every person, place, event, location - everything that is introduced in the series can be found in this book, along with where in the series they can be found, and their importance to the overall story.

If you haven't already delved into Ender's world, I wouldn't start here - while it's a great resource, you will miss so much of the magic of the story if you simply read Black's summaries. If you have read a book or two, and want to catch up on the lives of Ender, Valentine, and the like, you will probably have fun dipping in and out of the Companion. If you are a fan, like me, this is definitely a book you want to get your hands on. I'm so happy I have it to add to my Ender collection, and can see myself using it again and again as I continue to explore Ender's world.

Source: review copy from publicist
Rating: 8/10

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