Children of the Fleet
Author: Orson Scott Card
Fleet School #1
Enderverse Chronological: Takes place concurrently with Shadow of the Hegemon
The Enderverse continues to do best when starting a new branch of books. Much like Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow, and Earth Unaware, Card tells a straight forward story with genius characters overcoming difficult situations for the first time. I can only assume the sequels to this book will also drop in quality and becoming increasingly redundant (like the other books’ sequels did) but at least we’re off to a good start.
Taking place after Ender’s Game but before the end the the Ender’s Shadow saga, the famed battle school that trained Ender Wiggins has now been rebranded the Fleet School where child geniuses and the children of members of the fleet train to lead colonization missions in the future. As far as humanity knows, we’ve won the Formic Wars and the threat is over, but readers of the Ender’s Shadow books will be aware that unrest on the planet is going to affect everybody.
The protagonist of Children of the Fleet is Dabeet Ochoa, a ten year old genius who doesn’t know the true identity of his father and who believes almost none of what his mother tells him. When he gets recruited to go to Fleet School, before he can go he is kidnapped by terrorists who hatch a plot with him to eventually have Dabeet be the mole inside Fleet School that will allow them to infiltrate for some sinister purpose. They threaten to kill Dabeet’s mother if he doesn’t help. Once Dabeet goes to Fleet School, the book is pretty split between him trying to acclimate himself to fleet school and trying to figure out a way to stop the terrorist plot.
Dabeet is not as easy to root for as Ender (who was an all time great protagonist) or even Bean (at least in the early books) but I did prefer him to the plucky space miner kid from the prequel books. Dabeet is written as arrogant and it’s something he becomes aware of and tries to overcome throughout the book. The supporting cast was not particularly memorable with the exception of Monkey, a girl who is an expert at maneuvering outside in zero gravity.
Fans of the whole series will enjoy cameos here by several prominent characters from the other books. ***Spoilers follow*** In addition to Colonel Graff who is a main character in the book, characters like Ender, Bean, Achilles and Mazur all either show up or are heavily referenced. For the most part that’s good, except I never cared for Achilles so his showing up didn’t invoke nostalgia for better books like the others did. Also the twist involving Graff seemed unnecessary and made Dabeet seem less interesting than leaving the issue open. ***End of Spoilers***
The series as a whole is definitely getting unwieldy, as there’s currently another prequel series still being written (The Hive, The Queen, The Swarm), as well as another Shadow book on the way in addition to this midquel book. I’ll plan on updating my series rankings if it ever wraps up.