Book 16: The Call of Earth – Orson Scott Card

In the second installment of Orson Scott Card’s five book series Homecoming we pick up right where The Memory of Earth left off. This time however we are not solely focused on the Wetchik clan, instead we learn about a new character Moohz, a great Gorayni general. Although the Gorayni worship differently, they still worship the Oversoul, but call it God. As we delve more into his story we learn his people were conquered and annihilated by the Gorayni and he is biding his time until he is able to strike a death-blow to the Gorayni empire and their leader, a self-titled human manifestation of god.

In contrast to this we delve more deeply into the Wetchik family and Lady Rasa’s family and ties. Her two idiot daughters Svet and Kokor and their husbands, Wetchik’s sons from the previous book, and Rasa’s nieces become focal points of this novel. Wetchik’s sons return to the city on the command of the Oversoul to find wives and to bring them out to the desert in order to then complete the journey back to Earth which has waited some 40 million years.

The twists and the turns of the novel are not necessarily subtle, but they are incredibly intricate. We discover throughout the novel that the Oversoul has spent many years intertwining those who are receptive to its interference into the ‘perfect’ humans and has slowly been guiding them to each other in the holy city of Basilica which must ultimately be destroyed. We find that Moohz is the father of the great waterseer, Luet, and raveler, Hushidh and that their mother was a holy woman. They then each marry one of Rasa and Wetchik’s sons, both of which are as receptive and ‘holy’ as they are and thus will create even stronger more receptive children to the Oversoul. Most of the other characters often feel like caricatures and comic relief, but they do provide insight into Harmony’s (the planet) and more specifically Basilica’s moral values. In the end Basilica falls (in the epilogue) and the people of Basilica spread out around the rest of Harmony and begin disseminating their knowledge and passing on their genetic predisposition to openness with the Oversoul.

Perhaps the most interesting thing of The Call of Earth and going into The Ships of Earth is the fact that the Oversoul doesn’t have all control and that Moohz, Hushidh and Luet have each had dreams of portent from an entity other than the Oversoul. I have no idea what they mean or where they’ll lead but it will be interesting to find out.

The politics and intrigue of this novel are well written and Card’s characterizations are brilliant especially in the way he describes how the characters interact and observe each other through the Oversoul. I was once again a bit perturbed by the idiocy and silliness of some of the characters (the blatant stereotypes of the pettiness of women and the unfaithfulness of men), however he did provide strong characters which were in direct contrast to those stereotypes Card most often propagates.

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