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Pathfinder Paperback – October 4, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–Card's latest work of speculative fiction twists together tropes of fantasy and science fiction into something fine indeed. Rigg and his father are trappers by trade, but Rigg has been instructed throughout his 13 years in languages, sciences, history, and politics. The teen is therefore somewhat mentally prepared for the quest that his father thrusts upon him with his dying breath–to go to the capital city and find his sister. Both Rigg and his friend, Umbo, have a special ability that aids them–Rigg can see the paths of all living things, regardless of intervening obstructions or even time, and Umbo can seemingly change the movement of time itself. Needless to say, the two meet various friends and foes and can't always tell which is which as they journey onward. Juxtaposed with this main story is an entirely different narrative, told in a page or two at the beginning of each chapter. This is the tale of Ram Odin, human pilot of a colony ship from Earth, traveling to a new world with the use of space-folding technology. The combination of science fiction and fantasy as well as a surprising revelation at the end harken back to genre classics like Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle (HarperCollins, 1980) and Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber (Doubleday, 1970). This novel should appeal to Card's legion of fans as well as anyone who enjoys speculative fiction with characters who rely on quick thinking rather than violence or tales of mind-bending time-travel conundrums.–Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
*Starred Review* The first in a series, Card’s latest title has much in common with his Ender Wiggins books: precocious teens with complementary special talents, callously manipulative government authorities, endlessly creative worlds, and Card’s refusal to dumb down a plot for a young audience. Here he takes the notions of folding space and time, embracing paradox, “adopting a rule set in which . . . causality . . . controls reality, regardless of where it occurs on the timeline.” Thirteen-year-old Rigg is a Pathfinder, one who sees the paths of others’ pasts. Rigorously trained and thoroughly educated by his demanding father, Rigg is horrified when Father dies unexpectedly after a final order to find the sister he never knew he had. Rigg is accompanied on this journey by a small group of friends who have powers of bending and manipulating the flow of time. Card also skillfully twines a separate story line into the plot, featuring earth’s colonization of distant planets, led by the idealistic young pilot Ram Odin. Fast paced and thoroughly engrossing, the 650-plus pages fly by, challenging readers to care about and grasp sophisticated, confusing, and captivating ideas. As in L’Engle’s Time Quartet, science is secondary to the human need to connect with others, but Card does not shy away from full and fascinating discussions of the paradoxical worlds he has created. Grades 8-12. --Debbie Carton --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
And boy does Card do time travel well. Slow to start, the world of this book envelopes you through its 600-some odd pages. I finished it three days ago, and my first reaction was, "Well, that wasn't Card's best work. But not a bad story at all." My brain has not left the wallfold, however, and my imagination continues to be captivated by the story of PATHFINDER. I absolutely cannot wait for the rest of this series to be released. It has been a very long time since I have been as excited about new work from Mr. Card as I am for the continuation of this series. PATHFINDER will grow on you, if you do not fall in love with it immediately.
Rigg, the main character of the story, is told by his father that there is "a perfectly logical explanation" for why he is able to see the paths of people's pasts. The story also follows other extraordinary human beings who have come to exist on the planet Garden, whose origins we discover with brief side-stories chapter by chapter in typical Card fashion. There is Umbo, who can speed up the perception and clarity of mind of anyone around him. When he does this to Rigg, it enables Rigg to pick out an individual path from the past until it becomes real to him, making the two boys able to change the past with their combined abilities. While they are the two focal points of the story, they are not the only special people in the world. There is a woman who can divert attention with a little "spell," and other characters with unnatural resistances to horror and mental pain that serves them well throughout the story. Rigg's sister, too, has perhaps a power more important than any others combined.
These are the elements of the story that make it seem like fantasy. A few of the powers, however, are explained through the course of the book as having a purely scientific origin, albeit a theoretical one. To be fair, I should not call the book pure science fiction. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it is theoretical physics fiction. Nothing in the book is ever explained off as magic, and the future books in the series can only flesh out the world in a more scientific, grounded way.
I say that it is no more a young adult novel than any of Card's other books because, simply, it is a very intelligent book. PATHFINDER is not heavy on action. Like many of Card's best books, it is the intrigue and mysteries of the plot that keep the reader going. The thoughts and conversations of the characters drive the story, and that is not typical of young adult books, which tend to be plot-driven instead of idea-driven like this story.
Perhaps it is the promise of the series as a whole, and not the individual merits of this first book, that has me most excited. Either way, I regret no part of reading PATHFINDER. If the remaining books in the trilogy (which are scheduled to be released sometime in 2011 and 2012 respectively) are up to par, this promises to be one of Card's best works. Orson Scott Card fans, don't miss out; if you are new to him, this isn't a bad place to start, though elements of this story have been done better in some of Card's other works.
The book has a great beginning--a young boy is trained by his severe and know-it-all father, and then the father is killed in a shocking accident. This is a great opening for a fantasy/sci fi novel. I was drawn right in. And then in the best tradition of "coming-of-age" novels, the boy Rigg sets off on a quest to find his sister and his mother. Unfortunately, the quest bogs down when Card is trying to explain time travel. He's on to something good when he describes seeing the paths of people who've gone before (Rigg's talent) or when he describes Rigg's sister Param's even more astonishing talent of movement in time.
This would have been a great novel, if the characters had been allowed to develop and interact, and the scientific theory had been given second place, and of course, the usual problem of exposition (how to dispense big blobs of information and fact and background in the setting of a story) is what kills this book. I love sci-fi, this is the sort of sci-fi I particularly like, I like Card and yet, I disliked this book and found it boring. I'm also tired of Card's signature snappy comebacks from his youthful characters. They all sound like the kids from "Ender's Game"--pee jokes, sarcasm you'll recognize immediately from Card's other books. It was fun in Ender's Game but it doesn't work to develop these characters at all.
The concepts in this book are great! The mix of time travel and fantasy/myth are also good. Just--the execution is poor. Way too much detail, bogging down the story.
Rigg's relationship with his father and his then masterful handling of the political intrigue that he finds himself immersed in are a shining testament to the power of not merely education, but an education in critical thinking. Reading the character of Rigg is highly entertaining. His verbal sparring with bankers, politicians, and even his friends is so incredibly well written, it turns a book that is essentially driven by a scientific concept into a compelling page turner that I did not want to put down.
This is an adventure tale told in a fashion that will be a bit subtler than some teens are used to. There's plenty of excitement, interesting science concepts to ponder, and memorable moments to keep any sci fi fan reading away. My only fault, and it's a small one, is that the character's constant comments over how difficult the whole time travel thing was to understand got a bit tedious after awhile. The strength of this book lies in the intrigue and mystery surrounding Rigg, and it's this that in the end keeps the plot moving and the reader interested. A recommend for any sci fi fan, whether teen or adult.
Oh, and one final thing: the ending was incredible! I really hope there's a sequel!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pathfinder is part 1 of the trilogy and I found it to be the best part.Read more