Earthborn

Orson Scott Card, Author
Orson Scott Card, Author Tor Books $23.95 (378p) ISBN 978-0-312-93040-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 448 pages - 978-0-8125-3298-2
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-11475-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-1902-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-1901-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-4332-1905-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4332-6227-2
Book - 978-1-4332-1904-7
Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-4299-6546-0
Hardcover - 384 pages - 978-0-312-85928-2
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This concluding volume of the Homecoming series (Earthfall, et al.) doesn't live up to the earlier books, which were notable for their subtlety in developing essentially religious themes through focused plotting and sensitive characterization. Here, the plot relies on familiar Judeo-Christian archetypes, tailored to examine discrimination, theocracy and the relationship to God-or, in this case, the powerful mystery of the Keeper. Three intelligent species now inhabit Earth: the sky people, who live in treetops; the earth people, who live in the soil and in tree trunks; and the middle people, humans descended from colonists who have returned to Earth after an absence of 40-million years. In addition to the stilted speech of some of the characters, the novel is slowed by Card's ``naming conventions,'' which increase the mystical and cultural importance of names but also force readers to refer frequently to the separate chapter on the author's system of compounded names, titles and endearments in order to determine which characters are speaking or acting. The conclusion of the story, however, in which the firstborn son of a former priest and leader sees the evil he has caused and selects his future, is vintage Card and a joy to read. This mildly disappointing wrap-up to a rich series about humanity's journey from Earth to the stars and back might be satisfying enough to Card fans, but it's not the book through which to meet Card for the first time. Author tour. (May)
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