Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Call of Earth

Orson Scott Card's The Call of Earth is the second installment in his Homecoming Saga.  The direct sequel to The Memory of Earth, this one picks up pretty much right where that one left off.  Basilica, the "women's city" is still reeling somewhat from the events that have taken place and upon hearing of its current vulnerability, the powerful Gorayni general "Moozh" sees a distinct strategic advantage for himself.  He has a true gift in his way with words and manner, and in no time he has abandoned his post and started out for Basilica with a thousand of the Gorayni soldiers under his command.

Meanwhile, Wetchik and his sons continue to try and make sense enough of the Oversoul's messages to them, to be able to truly act.  Within the city's walls, the Lady Rasa and her gifted and insightful nieces, Luet and her sister Hushidh, attempt the same.  Time seems to be running out, however, and the abilities and intent of the Oversoul starts to be questioned.  Is the manipulative general a part of the Oversoul's plans, or is he a bigger threat than he seems?  Does the Oversoul even really know what it's doing?  Is it merely a flawed creation of equally flawed humans, or are they right to put their trust and faith in its will, and continue down the path on which they've now begun?  Whatever they decide, there may be no going back, and whatever their choice, the fate of their beloved city as well as their own lives will likely be greatly affected.


I remember feeling that The Memory of Earth began rather slowly, but The Call of Earth started at a good pace which was maintained throughout the whole book.  There is just as much intrigue, if not more, in this book than in the first, which I appreciated, and while the religious theme of the series is still quite strong, I still didn't find it to be overbearing or preachy.  The main characters are not necessarily blind followers of the Oversoul, and faith is questioned and put to the test.  More than anything, I think of this more as an interesting story of a social engineering project that may be either near to or at the end of its effectiveness.

Overall, I like The Call of Earth much better than its predecessor, not only because the pacing of events is more to my liking, but because of the characters as well.  There is much more of Luet in this book, as I was hoping.  She was easily my favorite character, and she still is, though there is a lot of her older sister, the raveler Hushidh, in this one as well, and she's equally interesting to me.  They both possess divine gifts from the Oversoul, and both regard them perhaps as much as a curse as they are a blessing, because of the way it affects other people's treatment and perception of them.  They are sweet, intelligent, and simple, and for that I like them immensely.  Nafai, who was more a boy than a man in the first book, is becoming more mature, while his brothers appear to remain pretty much the same as ever - with the exception of Elemak, the eldest, who, closer to the end, seems to show some potential of being able to grow, as he does become more aware of some things he perhaps should have considered long before.

I don't particularly care for Rasa's irritating and superficial daughters, Sevet and Kokor, but her other daughter, the intelligent and respected geneticist, Shedemei, seems to have a lot of potential as being worthy of notice.  Maybe I just have a fondness for scientists, but I will be interested to find out what becomes of her in the third book.

As for the ending, I liked how things wrap up.  Card leaves off with enough tension to make me very curious about what happens next, but without it being an actual cliffhanger; we do get a resolution first to other events, and even though I ended up correctly guessing the outcome, I was still pretty satisfied with it. 

And for those of you who, like me, enjoy when the author includes little bonuses, you might appreciate the maps Card provides in the first few pages, as well as the guide to the characters' names and kinship.  I found it especially useful after it having been a while since I read the first book, as a refresher for how the characters are related to each other, since this plays such an integral part in how events unfold and why.



Tor Science Fiction

Series Info:  What came before this book?  What's next?
Homecoming Saga
* The Call of Earth (Book 2)
- The Ships of Earth (Book 3)

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