Literature

Book Review: Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Pathfinder is a fictional novel by Orson Scott Card. Even twenty years after writing his most famous book, Ender’s Game, Card proves to still write with passion and imagination. Pathfinder has an original plot, and meshes both the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

This book tells the story of Rigg, the son of a trapper who has the unusual ability to see the paths of living beings— not your average superpower. Rigg is educated and clever, and often uses reason and tact to solve problems. When his father dies, Rigg receives parting instructions to travel to a faraway city to meet his long-lost family. And with that, his life changes from average to exciting as he journeys to uncover his real identity.Orson Scott Card, Pathfinder cover art

Scattered throughout the story are short passages following a completely different character, Ram Odin, who pilots a fleet of starships to colonize a planet. Though the side story is interesting enough, it is rather confusing to keep track of two storylines at once. Of course, the two stories are tied together quite nicely later in the novel.

The most important feature of Pathfinder is the creativity of its author. The plot definitely takes several twists and turns, and the ending of the story is wildly different than the opening setting. All of the characters are vivid and have distinct personalities, even the robots on Ram’s ship. Another difference separating Pathfinder from other sci-fi novels is the presence of politics. Political maneuvering and mind games take up almost as many pages as the action, and there is surprisingly little romance. Of course this can be seen as a positive or negative thing depending on what the reader enjoys, but it’s definitely worth noting.

Unfortunately, one aspect of the book keeps it from perfection. While the storyline is creative, this comes at the cost of losing reader comprehension. Between multiple storylines and the poor explanation of events and people, I often had to reread entire sections to make sense of what was happening. Perhaps if Card had slowed down the pace to give more time to setting the scene, the book would be improved.

Overall, Pathfinder is a fun read that will give you many new ideas to think about. It’s already been out for a few years, so the entire series is completed. Perfect for a reading marathon!

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Phillip Xiang

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