This book takes place generations after the last book which makes it both an outlier of the five books and a hell of a lot more confusing than it need be. As it has been generations, the stories of the first four novels have become legends and the legends have become myth and are religious in their overtone.
I was pleased however that Shedemi, the character I came to love over the last two books remained alive in the cloak of the Starmaster spending hundreds of years asleep and waking up to tend her garden of earth. Shedemi has finally decided that she needs to return to the planet and participate in life again, she can no longer remain solely as the gardener of earth. Her humanity has decided that she needs to interact with people and so she opens a school and causes all sorts of chaos.
This book focuses more on the biological (or at least non-man-made) entity known as the Keeper of Earth. It’s as if all four of the previous novels lead to this specific ecclesiastical question of is there a greater being and if there is what does that mean. It became incredibly tedious as the novel progressed, trying to find the balance between scholarly questioning of a higher power and the legitimacy of democracy or a monarchy. And then throwing in Card’s own religious beliefs and background it was just sort of annoying. I also found it somewhat hypocritical the way Card writes so well describing the pain and affects of discrimination on a certain population and yet the religion to which he belongs has one of the worst track records of discrimination when it comes to many minority groups (including women and LGBT individuals).
Again, surprisingly, I was impressed with the feminism undertones throughout the novel and the various ways Card attempted to portray his female characters. There were many strong women characters and although the whinging of the male characters was often over done, I do believe it brings a type of politics (feminism) to a genre that is often times light years ahead of other genres when it comes to sexuality and gender.
Overall I’m glad I read the series as Card is no doubt a great writer, but I honestly think I would have enjoyed the Homecoming Saga that much more if it would’ve been fit into three or four books.
Two random quotes from Earthborn
“That’s the difference between life and art, of course. Life has no frames, no curtains, no beginnings and no endings.” (363)
“What are books, anyway? The words of men and women who had something to say. Only when you read the book, the only voice you hear in your head is your own. You have the advantage of permanence, of being able to reread the same words again and again; but that’s really a lie, because it gives you the impression that the writer thought and spoke permanently, when in fact the moment the book was written, the writer changed and became someone else, endlessly exciting because he was endlessly reinvented. To read a book is to live among the dead, to dance with stones.” (411/12)