Book Review: Enchantment by Orson Scott Card

I read so much, yet I’ve never really done many book reviews. This coming from someone who is always asking for ideas on books….

The Good

Orson Scott Card has always been one of my favorite writers. Enders Game had the classic impressions on me like it does on many young people, and I remember the delight I felt when I was called to serve my mission in the same area he did. That turned to outright joy when, in my last area, I met someone who had been baptized by Elder Card. He showed me the papers that Elder Card had left with him so many years ago, and on the bottom of one was Card’s signature. Fun. Sadly, the guy was no longer active in the church.

But I digress….

The book was good. Nothing on Enders Game, but then again few things read with that kind of power. As an amateur linguist, I found the language in the book wonderfully entertaining, and his descent into the cultures of the book was pleasing, enlightening, and enjoyable.

The story is the basic Sleeping Beauty story turned from the popular European tale into an original story of old Russia with a modern counterpart. If you are a fan of the old fairy tales (think pre-Grimm), you’ll surely recognize many characters such as Baba Yaga and even Ivan. Without giving away too much, the story involves, as you should be able to guess, a princess, a kiss, an evil witch, and the classic triumphal battle. And that’s where I’ll leave it; anymore and the twists and turns won’t be as enjoyable.

Perhaps the thing I enjoyed most about the book, and something I enjoy in all his books, is that Card has considerable talent in describing and writing about the psyche of his characters, and Enchantment is no exception.

The Bad

About the only thing I can say for bad is that Card has always seemed to struggle with magic in his books. The Seventh Son series collapsed in an orgy of magical interference that seemed created more to tie loose ends than to actually further the plot. The same can be said for the Speaker for the Dead trilogy that followed Enders Game, as well as the Enders Shadow series.

None of this is to say that the magic in Enchantment fails (it doesn’t) or that it hinders the story (it doesn’t do that either), but rather it doesn’t necessarily flow off Card’s fingers the way much of his other writing does.

Final Review

Not his best work, but when your best works include Enders Game and Speaker for the Dead, you really have to create a true masterpiece to stand a chance of comparison. As it is, it’s a good introduction to the world of Card with a smooth plot line, understandable and likable characters, and just enough of a mystery to make you flip back again and again to find the clues that you should have caught the first time.

3 out of 4 stars.

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