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Songmaster Paperback – December 6, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Card here offers the tale of Ansset, a young boy whose perfect singing voice has the power of amplifying people's emotions, making him both a potential healer and destroyer. This is the first hardcover incarnation of the 1988 award-winning novel.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Card understands the human condition and has things of real value to say about it. He tells the truth well--ultimately the only criterion of greatness. (Gene Wolfe)

Orson Scott Card is a fine writer, with great insight, great idealism and love. (Science Fiction Review on Songmaster)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orb Books; Reprint edition (December 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312876629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312876623
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Orson Scott Card is the bestselling author best known for the classic Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow and other novels in the Ender universe. Most recently, he was awarded the 2008 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in Young Adult literature, from the American Library Association. Card has written sixty-one books, assorted plays, comics, and essays and newspaper columns. His work has won multiple awards, including back-to-back wins of the Hugo and the Nebula Awards-the only author to have done so in consecutive years. His titles have also landed on 'best of' lists and been adopted by cities, universities and libraries for reading programs. The Ender novels have inspired a Marvel Comics series, a forthcoming video game from Chair Entertainment, and pre-production on a film version. A highly anticipated The Authorized Ender Companion, written by Jake Black, is also forthcoming.Card offers writing workshops from time to time and occasionally teaches writing and literature at universities.Orson Scott Card currently lives with his family in Greensboro, NC.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Bryon T. Smedley on June 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Never having read any of the works of Mr. Card, and not even associating him with the whole "Ender's" phenomenon, I went into this book without any preconceptions or expectations. I found this to be one of the most insightful and unique stories written in the latter half of this century. The concept of a collective who communicates primarily through song is a twist on the norm, and Orson Scott pulls it off with utter brilliance in his prose and form. At one point I had to actually mark my place, put the book down and regain my composure, lest I surely lose my ability to see through the tears. These were not tears of sorrow, mind you, rather tears of joy. This story grabbed my attention and emotions and slung them around like only an E-ticket ride at the Magic Kingdom can do. I have since read anything and everything I can get my hands on by Mr. Card, and not once have I been disappointed. Although some of his works are better known and more popular, "Songmaster" remains my favorite. Find this book and purchase it immediately. On my honor, you will not be disappointed.
Bryon T. Smedley -
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd VINE VOICE on August 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Card seems to have a predilection for having child protagonists. But not just any children, rather children who are special, who are prodigies, who in many ways are far stronger than most adults. This book is no exception, with Ansset as the premier Songbird of his day. Songbirds are specially trained child singers, trained in not just the basics of music, but more importantly in how to read the emotional makeup of their audience and express it in their songs.

Ansset is assigned to be the Songbird for the Emperor Mikal, a brutal man who thinks nothing of wiping out the entire population of a planet to further his ends. But the end Mikhal is driving toward is lasting peace throughout the galaxy - a truly benevolent dictator. It is just this moral ambiguity that Ansset sees and understands, just as he can understand, accept, and reciprocate the love of Josif, a bisexual who can only be attracted to one person at time.

In fact, there are no hard and fast moral laws laid down in this book. Fraud, kidnapping, assassination, murder, homosexuality, pedophilia, devotion, political machinations, and, yes, even true love all receive an examination here, and each item is shown in more than one light. A good part of this book's strength lies within these examinations, which are shown by the events and people Ansset is exposed to, rather than by any sort of expository dialogue. The rest of the strength lies within the raw emotion that sings throughout this book, an almost poetic handling of what would be in lesser hands a very ugly set of happenings. Characterization is excellent, for not just Ansset but also all the players around him: Mikal, Ricktors, Esste, Kya-Kya - each are unique individuals that breathe life into this work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meghan Ginsburg on September 26, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have read and loved a number of Card's other books, and this was not among his finest works. Quite a few interesting ideas, especially the way that certain characters in the book possess the ability to communicate with and influence others through songs, even without using words. But Card never really described how this occurs. In most of his other books, when he introduces novel ideas or futuristic concepts, he takes the time to carefully describe and explain them to the reader; but here I was left wondering how it could be possible for people to sing like this -- it was never fully explained and left me confused at times. More than a typical suspension of disbelief, it required me to force myself to stop constantly asking "How do they do this?" and just try to focus on the rest of the plot.

In addition, Card brings in incidents of homosexuality that seem forced and out of place in the larger context of the plot, almost as if he threw them in just for added conflict, or because they were very controversial and perhaps even uncomfortable topics. These parts of the book felt very unnatural and didn't really advance the plot. The book could have done without them without changing any of the actual story, which indicates to me that they were not necessary to have included in the book.

Finally, the ending of the book, like more than a few of Card's endings, felt like it rushed to wrap things up. The book jumped forward in time by a substantial amount -- whole decades were skipped and summarized in just a few paragraphs, leaving me wondering what was missed and why the rush to wrap things up. The ending left me fairly unsatisfied as a reader.

In conclusion, although I will probably, at some point in my life, read every single one of Card's books just because I love his writing so much in general, this didn't rank anywhere near the top of the list for me.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By amazonker on May 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Orson Scott Card's stories and novels always carry a moral message. In his more recent, in-print publications, the moral message is often very clear and up front, and while he's hardly someone who uses a formula to write his books, he does have a very strong method and set ideas about what he wants from literature. But back when he wrote Songmaster, he was still finding his way. As with most of his early work, his characters here face far more immediate violence, pain, and hardship than in his later books, and while their responses can be somewhat uneven, the result is, from my perspective at least, a far more moving read than the smooth, knowing Card of today. This younger, rougher, less morally bound Card is worth checking out.
There's no denying the similarities between this book and Ender's Game. Yes, the main character is a male prodigy who struggles to learn and grow in emotional isolation. But all four of Card's major series begin with such a character (Ender, Bean, Alvin, and Nafai), and it's when he's writing about these remarkable children that Card does his best work. They're far more interesting than his adult characters because they genuinely don't know what to do when facing a problem -- every important decision they make is based on the information they have at hand, not any prior set of beliefs. This, plus their genius, makes them remarkably unpredictable and allows us to re-evaluate out own beliefs. Ansset, the "hero" of Songmaster, is no exception.
Card explores homosexuality in this novel, a topic he hasn't really braved since then, and an interesting choice given his Mormonism. The results may initally seem ambiguous -- after all, bisexual Josef suffers tremendously and commits suicide as a result of his failed encounter with Ansset.
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