February 3, 2021

Mike Reads a Book: The Swarm

The Book: The Swarm by Orson Scott Card

While on my deployment, I've really taken some time to relax on the beach and read. On my first weekend here, I went to the used bookstore on post and picked up a few paperback books. I love my Nook, but I don't want it to be damaged by salt, sand, or surf.

This is the first one I read.

Warning: Heavy Spoilers to follow

The Swarm, by Orson Scott Card. This book is a prequel to Ender's Game, one of my all time favorite novels. The Swarm is Part One of a trilogy that tells the story of the Second Formic War. It is also the sequel to another trilogy telling the story of the First Formic war. For those lost itn the sauce, Ender's Game tells the story of Third Formic war. I realized early on that I made a mistake by not reading the first trilogy. Apparently all of the prequel novels have the same characters, and I don't know about you, but a little backstory is always appreciated.

It begins 5 years after the end of the First Formic War, where Formic scout ships decimate China, killing millions. It follows the stories of several charactes from the previous books, the main being Mazer Rackaham, hero of the Second Formic War and future teacher to Ender Wiggin. The novel sets Mazer up as the unsung hero of the first war, regulated to testing equipment for space marines. His story is by far the most engaging in the book. It's a rollercoaster of promotions, demotions, red-tape, "legal drama", and holier-than-thou-isms.

The rest of the book is really just taking stock of what the Earth's current situation is. Aspects discussed include:

  • The technology that Earth will use to defend itself
  • The defense of Earth is seemingly secondary to nearly all people with the exception of the main characters
  • How the The Hegemon and the International Fleet navigate their existence. These are topics I wish the Author spent more time with.

What I enjoyed most in the novel is the subplot that follows the exploits of a broken military bueracracy that is entangled with the Earth-bound military-industrial-complex. SPOILER It lacks the depth and nuance seen when Mar's sells it's military hardware in Nemesis Games. The whole plot sets up what, I expect, will be the internal antagonist for the remainder of this trilogy.

3-Point Scale Rating: 2

A fun read, and helps expand upon unknown corners of the Enderverse. Aside from that, the world of the novel itself feels a little shallow, and it feels like the story is happening to the characters, rather than the cahracters impacting the story. It's good for people invested in the Enderverse, but there are better books to read if you haven't read Ender's Game.