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Speaker for the Dead

Written by: Orson Scott Card
Length: 14 hrs and 8 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (99 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War. Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered by Portuguese colonists on the planet Lusitania. But again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening...again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery...and the truth. Orson Scott Card infuses this tale with intellect by casting his characters in social, religious, and cultural contexts.

This, the author's definitive edition of the sequel to Ender's Game, also includes an original postscript written and recorded by the author himself, Orson Scott Card!.

©1986, 1990 Orson Scott Card (P)2002 Fantastic Audio, an Imprint of Audio Literature

What the critics say

  • Hugo Award Winner, Best Novel, 1987
  • Nebula Award Winner, Best Novel, 1986

"The most powerful work Card has produced. Speaker not only completes Ender's Game, it transcends it." (Fantasy Review)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best Fictional Book I've Ever Read

It has a powerful message delivered in a complex and eloquent manner 👌 Loved It!!

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great book, average performance

the voice actors felt flat and transition from actor to actor was frustrating. the story itself was amazing, bringing up interesting ideas and intriguing mystery.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

what a great reading of a terrific story.

cards insight into the complexity of human life and struggles is amazing. the way he brings it out in Speaker for the Dead brought me to the brink of Tears a few times. how that's possible with a book in this genre I don't know, but card did it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very impressive!

Really enjoyed it, had a lot of depth to the story and the performance was on point.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A lasting favourite.

“Our inability to move frees us from the obligation to act”
This book will be one that I never forget.
The performances were incredible with many difficult and unique voices pulled off extremely well. There was never any confusion between characters at all.
The story was something I was not prepared for and ended up leaving me with a mountain of concepts and ideas to mull over. The world creation O. S. Card has managed with this is outstanding and incredibly creative, complex, and well explained.
I cannot fathom how someone could organically come up with all the intricacies inherent with the Descolada.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

slow to start, ramps up second half

I kept starting and stopping this one. it was hard for me to get thru the first portion. The second half was impossible to stop. and like every great story that sweeps you up. the terrible emptiness takes hold when it finally finishes. awesome!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Incredibly powerful

This is one of the best books I have had the pleasure of reading (hearing).
The author addresses such incredibly delicate and powerful concepts as religion, sexuality, war, death etc. All in a way that is not pushing a particular agenda, but instead allowing the reader to experience and love each character in whatever way comes naturally. All of this is also twined deeply into a sci fi story that will leave you breathless with the scope and clarity, the realness of the human and non human characters.
I cant possibly recommend this book highly enough compared to the impact it has had on me as a reader.
The audio version is also a 10/10, the voice acting and audio quality is top tier and immerses you even deeper than when it is read alone.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • Sacramento, CA, USA
  • 2005-06-13

The Enderverse

This is my favorite science fiction series. The characters are easy to identify with, and you will find yourself sucked into this imaginary universe, nicknamed the Enderverse by fans.

Recommended order of reading (in my opinion): Ender?s Game, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind. Reading the books in this order will keep you interested and keep the story moving more naturally.

If after reading all of these wonderful books you are still itching for an Enderverse fix then read First Meetings. The list above is sorted by the Enderverse timeline. Meaning that the flow of events in the stories are uninterrupted. If you were to read the books in the order they were published, you would bounce back and forth in between time and few of the plot twists in future books would be revealed before you wanted them to be known. First Meetings, however contains short stories that occur both before and in between the list above within the Enderverse.

162 of 165 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Scott Fabel
  • Lancaster, PA, United States
  • 2013-04-24

Great story, but the performance was dreadful

After having read "Ender's Game," I was eager to read "Speaker for the Dead." I was definitely not disappointed. According to interviews with the author, Orson Scott Card, "Speaker for the Dead" was the original book that he wanted to write. He wrote "Ender's Game" as a kind of introduction to "Speaker for the Dead." Although "Ender's Game" has become far more well-known and more popular than "Speaker for the Dead," I can see why this was the story that the author really wanted to write. The story is much richer and deeper. I feel as if it's written for a more mature audience, and its themes reflect that maturity. Don't get me wrong. I loved "Ender's Game," yet I think I enjoyed "Speaker for the Dead" just as much--only for different reasons.

Let me get the bad news out of the way. The audio recording of this book was terrible. I don't want to say that the actual performance of the narrators was bad because it really wasn't. The problem was that there were just too many narrators, and they were used inconsistently throughout the book. At times, there were shifts from one narrator to another mid-paragraph, and it didn't seem to be done for any reason. I certainly don't want to say that this lessened the story in any way. After all, it's the same story whether listening to one narrator or 50. Even so, the shifting back and forth was distracting. As if that weren't bad enough, there was also periodic background music that was played during the performance. Again, this seemed to show up in random locations. There was one location in particular in which music just started playing mid-sentence and the ended in the middle of the following sentence. Usually, I expect some of that background music to signal a change in chapter, theme, or something else recognizable. That was surely not the case here. Again, it didn't lessen the story, but it was distracting. It wouldn't be such a bad thing for the story to be re-recorded without the performance issues.

Now, on to the good news. This book takes place 3000 years after "Ender's Game"; however, thanks to space travel at relativistic speeds, both Ender and Valentine are still alive--and in their 30s! In many ways, this book picks up not long after "Ender's Game" concludes. Ender has now become the Speaker for the Dead. After the events that occurred earlier in his life (in "Ender's Game"), he decides to dedicate himself to speaking the death of other people. Perhaps he sees this as atonement for his earlier life. In this book, humans have discovered a new, alien life form, the Pequeninos (also known as "piggies"), on the planet Lusitania. A death occurs on this planet, and Ender is called to speak the death.

This book is far more philosophical than "Ender's Game." The Speaker for the Dead does not deliver a traditional eulogy for those who have died. Instead, he speaks the truth. This concept resonated strongly with me because I think a lot of people don't get to have the truth spoken at their funerals. While this idea of speaking for the dead is a central theme of the book, there are many others. For example, the interactions between the humans and the piggies is extraordinary. It frames the way in which we, as humans, look at anything or anyone who is different from us, as something that needs to be either protected or changed. We seem to think that we are the most evolved species and, subsequently, the most intelligent. Although the book doesn't necessarily contradict this belief, it does make the reader question it. Finally, I want to also mention that the Catholic Church is alive and well in the far-off future. There were very interesting discussions of religious themes throughout the book. The Catholic Church has a prominent role on Lusitania, and it must somehow align its teachings with the new reality of an alien life form.

Overall, this was an enjoyable read. It still exists in the same general universe as "Ender's Game," yet it is its own story. The more mature philosophical themes make this a great book for older readers, but it's still science fiction. This seems to be a great combination, and I look forward to reading other books in the Ender series.

31 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Josh Mitchell
  • 2006-04-13

Good story, okay narration

First, this isn't Ender's Game. It's an entirely different kind of story, so if you're looking for the pseudo-military sci-fi action of Ender's Game, you will be disappointed. That said, this is one of Card's better works, with rich, interesting characters and a fascinating (if slower-moving) plot.

The multi-person reading is not very well done, however. At best, it's distracting; at worst, obnoxious--one of the female readers, in particular, has a habit of reading every sentence as though it's the saddest and most important thing ever written. The book's main narrator is (fortunately) quite good.

Overall, recommended.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Danathar
  • 2009-06-19

Great book, really don't like the female reading

Just like Ender's game this is a great book. Harder to get through though. Card spends more time on character development than really needed. The woman who does a good bit of the reading is a bit too melodramatic for my ears.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • The Kindler
  • 2016-02-27

Brilliant

Any additional comments?

There is a lot of controversy around Card but he still writes really interesting books that require the reader to think about the implications of each action and reaction. It is a wonderful masterpiece and deserves the reader to think critically about the ideas of Card.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • 2008-02-13

The Anti-Ender's Game

I picked this book because I had very much enjoyed Ender's Game and "Speaker" is the continuation of the story. However, it is also completely different in speed and style. While "Ender's Game" is mostly science fiction of the technical kind (spaceships, battles, etc.) and moves along well most of the time, "Speaker" is a tedious, slow-as-molasses study of religion, family relationships, childhood neuroses, and endlessly repeated sermons on tolerance. The passages in Portuguese, on the Catholic teachings, and others are tedious and boring.
You may end up liking "Speaker", but it won't be for the same reasons you may like "Ender's Game". Be forewarned.

51 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. T. Mitchum
  • KC
  • 2009-01-07

As implied by title: Not Ender's Game

I enjoyed this book, but I enjoyed it because I did not expect Ender's Game proper.

There was a lot about Ender's Game I enjoyed, but I can sub-categorize all my favorite parts into two important distinctions. Military strategy and group leadership versus interpersonal development and politics.

If you really only enjoyed the military portions of Ender's Game, then you may consider leaving Speaker of the Dead out. Scott Card wrote Ender's Game so he could write Speaker for the Dead. The way he writes the characters in Speaker for the Dead I have found to be a reliable measure for his other books in the Enderverse.

Reading about waging a war is awesome because of the absolution both sides of a war feel, a solidarity under one banner, so to speak. At the end of war, we have fractured absolution and limited solidarity -- complex topics to say the least.

Speaker for the dead is about this post-war universe. The threads of religion and science woven throughout the personalities is beautifully done in a way that should be neutral enough to spawn debate, but with the author's beliefs only somewhat veiled. Reading a book like this often makes me feel we are more predictable in groups than we are when left to our private choices.

This book gives weight to the phrase "where there is a will, there is a way." Of course -- not all wills are good ones ...

30 of 35 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joe O.
  • Indiana
  • 2012-11-29

Great story, poor narration

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Use consistent narration. Using several different people that change the emotional delivery and even the gender of the voice is distracting and annoying. Plus, the woman sounds like she should be reading smut, not sci-fi.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of David Birney and Stefan Rudnicki ?

These weren't the only narrators. I would have stuck with them.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cathleen
  • upper darby, PA, United States
  • 2003-01-19

Amazing!!!!

As much as I enjoyed Ender's Game, I loved this book more. I liked the action of Ender's Game, but it was the inner conflicts and thoughts of his character that I really enjoyed. (Card made me really care about Ender and what happened to him.) It is just this kind of intimacy that I think is the core of this book. It has such emotional intensity with a transcendant spirituality,that made me want to "inhale" this book. I found myself just sitting in my car long after I had reached my destination just to complete another chapter. This book grabbed me and flung me on the roller coaster of its message, and I didn't want to ever get off.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Helen Foster-Turner
  • Harrow, Greater London, UK
  • 2007-01-10

I loved it, you may or may not

I felt as though this was a book I should have read years ago and regretted that I did not.

Like many others who have reviewed this book, I also enjoyed Enders Game but took up Speaker for the Dead with no preconceived ideas. The first part of this novel is rightly spent setting up the rest and, since the story that follows is based on the characters experiences and the emotions that arise because of them, they form the important foundation for the rest of the novel. In other words it contextualises it.

If you want another Enders Game, then it is not the same. It is richer, deeper and slower to build. It requires a reader with empathy, a little patience and an open mind.

I will not nitpick the science but it was written a while ago and our collective understanding and expectations have changed in the interim. I do believe, however, that eventually technological development will plateau as we discover all the technology that will serve us and it will remain somewhat similar until something changes to cause the next great cycle of advancement.

It touched me and it made me think which is all I can ask of any book.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful