So my goal for this year’s reading challenge was 100 books. Judging by last year’s results, I’ll probably make it, but it depends on the size and quality of the books I’m reading, not just the quantity. Some weekends I can get through 2 or 3 books, sometimes I fight to get one done. Lately, I haven’t been writing as much about the books I’m reading, mostly because some of them are so cheesy that I’m embarrassed to say that I read them.
Yes, I read the first four Vampire Diaries books. I don’t know how I got sucked into it, but I did. It was interesting to read the books after watching the television series. Definitely glad they changed things up. Those books were pretty awful, even by a ‘90s “Hey this Vampire thing is coming back and I want to get in on it” standard. Thankfully they were short enough that I finished four of them in one weekend and could wipe the sour taste from my brain.
Then I changed things up with Orson Scott Card’s Pathfinder. To be totally honest, I’m a huge fan of Card’s. I’ve read a ton of his novels. We all know I’m not a huge short story fan, so I’ve neglected some of his stuff. But the Ender series and the Homecoming Saga just blew me away. I love the world he creates and the people he populates those worlds with. I love the conflicts they face, the dialogue, the plot twists… Orson Scott Card is a master and deserves to be acknowledged as such.
In Pathfinder, Card again takes the reader on a journey into unchartered territory where he blends the medieval quest epic with a space-faring jaunt. There are two story arcs: one following an intrepid space-faring captain and one following a young boy with a special power. The first arc appealed to my inner geek immediately. Here was a colony ship trying to determine whether or not faster than light speed was possible. The captain is left awake, the only human, surrounded by “Expendables”. His big decision: should he press the button to set the ship into faster than light travel, not knowing whether or not the technology will be effective?
The second arc takes us to a medieval-esque nation where a young boy can see the paths of anyone or thing that has come before him like threads of light. Things get very interesting when Razzi realizes that he can actually reach into the threads of light and interact with people in the past. In typical questing form, Razzi makes acquaintances on his way. Some of these acquaintances have their own special powers, and some have “powers” that come from their force of character. As Razzi and Co. set out on a journey bestowed by his dying Father, they come to examine the issues of the space -time continuum more closely and thoroughly than I would ever expect characters in a medieval setting to do.
The real twists come when the two story arcs intersect. I love how Card does it, but I won’t give it away because it’s pretty brilliant. In fact, the whole novel (although in some parts rather predictable in the medieval-quest way) is rather brilliant. Other than Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, I don’t think I’ve ever seen time travel/space-time discussions and medieval settings blend so well together. And before you start thinking of The Dragonriders of Pern, Anne McCaffrey’s genius body of work, the dragon-riders weren’t having modern physics discussions about space and time. The dragons were doing all of the hard work.
Card’s main characters are teen-agers, so coming to grips with the facts that they can alter reality in addition to everything a teen-ager has to go through is rather daunting. At times it is easy to forget that they are teens because of their elevated language. But Card explains that rather cunningly- Razzi’s “Father” taught him several languages, as well as several different ways to speak; in fact, giving him a university education as well as lessons in etiquette and manners.
Pathfinder is full of witty and smart dialogue, intriguing characters and plot twists. I’m looking forward to seeing where Card takes this set of characters next.