Originally posted here.
The last two chapters of this book seem to be about four chapters long. I mean, they move along so quickly that you’re hardly aware of any chapter breaks, but the information in those chapters is dense. It probably doesn’t help that time is so severely compressed in the conclusion of this book. It goes from weeks to years passing very quickly.
Mazer Rackham (not Cat Rackham) sneaks up on you, doesn’t he? It’s, in some ways, obvious that he is the old man when we first meet him. At this point in the book, it’s too late for a completely new character. Rackham’s been referenced but not described or explained until this point—it has to be him. He’s pretty brutal to Ender, both physically and emotionally. I’m not sure at which point he stops controlling the simulations and they become real battles, but my assumption is that it is very early on, perhaps as soon as the other kids join in.
Think back on the descriptions of the “simulations”. How crazy is it to think that all of those are actual battles costing real lives? It’s interesting to see these characters in a new context. They’ve built Ender into the commander he is, and now they must follow his instructions relatively unquestioningly. There are nice character bits with each of them, but Ender is more and more alienated from them as time goes on.
Speaking of alienated, Ender becomes more and more alienated from time and his own life as the battles continue. He sleeps and is tormented by…something (honestly the dreams were a bit tedious to me at this point, knowing the ending) and wakes for battles. He survives and thrives through his test by “giving up” in the same way he gave up to win his final battleroom game (nice bit of foreshadowing, that)—completely destroying the buggers homeworld. He then sleeps through the attempted coup afterwards.
At this point, the book goes into exposition mode and zooms us forward at increasingly quick rates. Ender becomes a war hero. He reunites with Val. Peter becomes president/dictator/hegemon. Ender and Val become colonists. Ender finds the last remaining queen bugger. Ender writes a history and becomes the figurehead of a new religion. Whoooosh.
It reminds me of the last quarter of Dune except with Ender refusing to take the reins like Muad’dib did. I’m overall disappointed with the ending of Ender’s Game. I understand it set up a series, but the part I care most about (battles, interpersonal bits) is left by the wayside at the end in service of endless dreams and world/religion-building. It remains a great book. Thoughts?