Review: Ruins by Orson Scott Card

Ruins by Orson Scott Card
Ruins by Orson Scott Card

Ruins
Orson Scott Card
Simon Pulse, 2012

Have you ever read a book that was almost compulsively readable yet you can’t decided whether it was good or not? For me Orson Scott Card’s Ruins is such a book. Picking up almost immediately after 2011’s Pathfinder, Ruins continues the journey of Rigg, Umbo, and Param as they search for the truth behind the world of Garden and uncover the mysteries of the Walls which segregate it. Rigg, as readers learn in Pathfinder, has the ability to see the paths of the past, where living creatures have left an imprint on the world. Trained by a machine-man to be able to read people and societies Rigg departed on a journey that saw him join up with several other children who have abilities similar to his. The interaction of the time manipulation powers of Rigg, Umbo, and Param allows them to cross the previously impenetrable border between their home and the next wallfold. This is where Ruins picks up as the three powered teens along with the soldier/scholar Olivenko and Loaf begin to explore their second wallfold.

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Review: Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card
Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card

Pathfinder
Orson Scott Card
Simon Pulse, 2010

My initial attraction to Pathfinder was based solely on the fact that the main character was named Rigg.  Rig is a less well known name of the Norse god Heimdall;  it is the name Heimdall goes by as he wanders Midgard, the tale of which is chronicled in the Lay of Rig.  Heimdall’s prodigious sight is one of the reasons he was chosen to guard the Bifrost Bridge (the path between Midgard and Asgard) and is somewhat similar to Rigg’s own sight related ability to see the paths of the past.  As Rig, Heimdall gifts humanity with magic runes and is something a a father figure, while initially this comparison to Rigg doesn’t quite fit by novels end it could be argued that Rigg is ineffably tied to the fate of humanity.  That being said, the links to Norse myth are tenuous; more homage than template.  Card’s story here is one that is both clever, original and highly engrossing.  Far more engrossing than the jacket copy would have you believe:

A powerful secret. A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg’s strange talent for seeing the paths of people’s pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him–secrets about Rigg’s own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent…or forfeit control of his destiny.

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