Rank the Series
In this feature, I take a look at a series that I’ve either finished or I am caught up through, and rank the books in order of worst to best. For those readers that aren’t turned off by jumping around (I don’t know how you do it) or for those that just enjoy ranking things, this is for you.
Ender’s Game Series by Orson Scott Card. Note: This does not include any short stories included in the Ender Univere.
13. Shadow of the Giant
Book Four of Ender’s Shadow
Book Eight Chronologically
The penultimate chapter to the Shadow saga, this book continued all of the worst qualities of the Shadow saga (characters that think they know everything, a terrible villain, oversimplified political intrigue) and capped it all off with the most patronizing ending imaginable. If you are a fan of Petra, I imagine you will hate this book.
Book Three of Ender’s Saga
Book Twelve Chronologically
After two excellent chapters in the Ender’s Game series, Xenocide feels like a story that was stretched way beyond its original idea into a meandering, endless book of filler.
11. Earth Awakens
Book Three of the First Formic War
Book Three Chronologically
If there’s one consistent with the Ender’s series, it’s that the longer the series goes the more likely diminishing returns are to be expected. Sadly, the prequel trilogy follows that pattern with this lackluster conclusion.
10. Shadow Puppets
Book Three of Ender’s Shadow
Book Seven Chronologically
This book is the turning point in the shadow series, as it continues the plot from “Shadow of the Hegemon” but does not feel entirely recycled yet. The characters are making their way toward pomposity, but they are not yet insufferable.
9. Earth Afire
Book Two of the First Formic War
Book Two Chronologically
A fairly average invasion book that continues the plot directly from “Earth Unaware,” but lacks the originality of its predecessor.
8. Shadows in Flight
Book Five of Ender’s Shadow
Book Ten Chronologically
I might have liked this story better if I didn’t already hate Bean by the end of Shadow of the Giant. That being said, this book did a nice job of telling a story that felt totally different from anything else in the saga with lower stakes and a more human core.
7. Children of the Mind
Book Four of Ender’s Saga
Book Thirteen Chronologically
This book truthfully had all of the same problems as “Xenocide.” Namely, it was bloated, padded and heavily featured a storyline (Han Quin-jao’s) that always dragged the book to a halt. However, this book also benefits from wrapping up the saga of Ender Wiggins, the greatest character in this fictional universe.
6. Ender in Exile
Book 1.5 in the Ender Saga
Book Nine Chronologically
From the description and timing of this book, one would expect it to have the same problems with padding and lack of originality, however “Ender in Exile” surprises by again focusing on the human element and providing some nice character growth for Ender on his way to “Speaker for the Dead.”
5. Shadow of the Hegemon
Book Two of Ender’s Shadow
Book Six Chronologically
Before the Shadow series got bogged down in the political chess match for three books in a row, “Shadow of the Hegemon” was a refreshing new idea set in the Ender universe. Taking the book out of the space setting and focusing more on the politics of Earth also provided a clever way to develop the rest of Ender’s Jeesh.
4. Earth Unaware
Book One of the First Formic War
Book One Chronologically
The prequel series to Ender’s game got off to a great start with “Earth Unaware,” introducing several memorable new characters and setting the stage for how and why a Battle School would be created. Card also wisely hints at the revelations about the Buggers true nature that is eventually learned by Ender.
3. Speaker for the Dead
Book Two of Ender’s Saga
Book Eleven Chronologically
The sequel to one of the most popular science fiction novels ever, “Speaker for the Dead” amazingly ditches nearly everything that made its predecessor popular and still remains an amazing science fiction standing on its own. More than any other book in the series, this installment manages to include all of the philosophical statements that Card wants to make but avoid getting bogged down in them.
2. Ender’s Shadow
Book One of Ender’s Shadow
Book Five Chronologically
Bean was a standout character in “Ender’s Game,” but who could have guessed that a spinoff novel running parallel to “Ender’s Game” from his perspective would be so satisfying? The only thing that keeps this from being a tougher choice at number one is that a few scenes seem to cheapen Ender’s accomplishments in the first book.
1. Ender’s Game
Book One of Ender’s Game
Book Four Chronologically
Was there any doubt what would be number one? If you’ve read this book and didn’t enjoy it, I’d say consider checking out “Speaker for the Dead,” which is totally different, otherwise this series is likely not for you as the original really is the gold standard for exciting, inventive science fiction action.