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The Swarm: The Second Formic War (Volume 1) Hardcover – August 2, 2016
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About the Author
ORSON SCOTT CARD is the author of the international bestsellers Shadow of the Giant, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Ender's Shadow, and of the beloved classic of science fiction, Ender's Game, as well as the acclaimed fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.
AARON JOHNSTON is the coauthor of the bestselling novels Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, and Earth Awakens. He was also an associate producer on the movie Ender’s Game, wherein he makes an appearance as an officer of the International Fleet. Blink and you’ll miss him. He and his wife are the parents of four children.
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Top Customer Reviews
In Ender's Game, belief in the existence of the Hive Queen was something that got Mazer "laughed to silence" by authorities after the Final Battle. In this book, Mazer and Bingwen PROVE that the Hive Queen exists before the Second Formic War even begins, and take videos of one of her "Daughters".
In Ender's Game, the idea that the Hive Queen is the ruling and animating will/intelligence in the Formics is something that Mazer introduces to Ender as a new concept that is not widely understood/accepted by the Fleet or humanity, a hundred years after the Second Formic War. In this book, most everyone already agrees that the Formics have a hive mind, controlled by one intelligent being, even before Bingwen shoots video proving the Hive Queen's existence.
The casual use of the Ansible by various military commanders and the Ansible falling into Pirate hands makes the idea of it being a total secret 100 years later when Ender/Bean learn about it, is pretty out there.
In Ender's Game, the first contact with the Formics is supposed to be when they blacked out Eros, and Eros was supposed to have been the Formic's forward post, won by 1000 marines fighting through tunnels to eradicate the Formics. This is how we supposedly stole their tech. In this book, they do black out a random asteroid, but it isn't Eros, and the 1000 marines who die are no where in sight, nor is any of the tech Mazer talks about.
Finally, the existence of Daughters of the Hive Queen as "battle generals" brings up a huge point -- in Ender's Game our main strategic advantage according to Mazer was that we have "greater available intelligence" that we can bring to bear on each battle, because we have many commanders, while the Formics only have the Queen. Having Daughters of the Hive Queen seems to blow this out of the water.
I know this seems really nit-picky. I did actually enjoy the book on its own, but the contradictions and inconsistencies between the existing Enderverse and this book constantly brought me up short, and took me out of the story.
This was the first book I had ever read by either of the authors, and I worried that I may not understand what was going on in the story, this being billed as "The Second Formic War." However, the book is written to be read by both new and established fans. Card and Johnston supply enough of the back story so that readers understand who the characters are and what part each played in the first Formic War.
I thoroughly enjoyed the plot, which centered around the characters desperately attempting to determine the strengths of the Formics and trying to develop the science to combat an enemy that is foreign to our understanding, making it difficult to come up with an effective strategy. Card and Johnston have created interesting characters, and their individual agendas help to keep the story moving forward at all times. While some may argue that the writing would be better suited for a graphic novel, I get the feeling that this is what the writers were trying to accomplish...not to create a gritty, futuristic war-is hell novel, but rather to entertain readers with an engrossing story. If that was their goal, they succeeded.
It is also safe to leave the Kindle unlocked when the kids are around. Even though the story contains hardened soldiers, space pirates, and bureaucratic jerks, somehow the authors have managed to write compelling dialogue without including an f-bomb on every other page. Good for them.
While the ending does leave us wondering what will happen to the characters as the war progresses, there is a climax to book one instead of a cliffhanger ending that forces the reader to buy the next book. Based on the excellent writing and interesting storyline, I look forward to purchasing the next installment in the series.