Posted: November 4, 2015 in Book Reviews


Songmaster by Orson Scott Card

It is 10’s of thousands of years in the future. A time when mankind is spread throughout the galaxy. Earth is the capital planet of a galactic empire ruled with an iron fist. Worlds show no resistance as all slivers of rebellion had been crushed.

On the world of Tew is the Songhouse. An extremely exclusive school of music where children are raised from near infancy to be the great singers of the empire and galaxy. The Songhouse has been training children for thousands of years.

Anssett our main character comes to the Songhouse at the young age of 3. By all appearances an orphan boy with an incredible talent of song. His songs hold that power to change the course of mankind.

Many years earlier Emperor Mikal comes to the Songhouse asking for a song bird. Surprised to learn that he would not simply be able to get one on demand he states to song master Nniv

“I could have come here in power, Songmaster Nniv. I could have landed huge armies and weapons that would hold the Songhouse itself for ransom to work my will. If I intended to coerce or frighten you or abuse you in any way, I would not have come alone, open to assassins, to ask for what I want. I have come to you with respect and I will be treated with respect.”

Songmaster Nniv responds with his explanation and observation

“I merely observe that all living things are manipulate. As long as there is a will, it is bent and twisted constantly. Only the dead are allowed the luxury of freedom, and then only because they want nothing and therefore can’t be thwarted.” –Nniv

The first words I thought when I finished this book was WOW! just WOW!. This is just amazingly well written book with such a strong story. Orson Scott Card does not disappoint with this book. As he has proven with countless other books he has written, he has a way about him that uses children to pull at our emotional needs within his story. Card’s children are key to his ability to write a story that brings you to love the characters as if they were your own children and this book is no different.

The emotional connections of love, respect, and hate these characters exhibit is such a key part of this story. This story explorers love in many different ways and kinds. The drugs Ansett was given at the song house delayed puberty and offset his natural development. Because of this he has kept his innocent love that children often give to their guardians. He comes to love the emperor as he would his father whom he never knew. The Emperor in turn loved Ansett as the son he never had. There relationship was one of the deepest and intimate relationships only a father and son could have.

When The Songhouse drugs wore off he comes to the point where he is now exploring another type of love. The love of another man as he would a woman. Card has been well-known for his positions on homosexuality, and yet explores this issue within this book. However whether the book’s portrayals of gays is based on the common cultural ideology of the late 70’s when the book was written or his own personal views or both I honesty cannot say. The book speaks of the taboo of gay love and the story effectively portrays such things as unnatural and spoken of with derogatory ideology. Many authors will write their characters with the typical attitudes on the issues of the day. Card may very well have done so in this case. He may also have written with his own viewpoints on this matter as well. It is up to you as the reader to decide that.

Ansset soon adopts a new family and becomes “uncle” to a child that is not his and learns of the love of family relationships he never knew or had experiences with. These different types of love from the love of parents, to children to lovers we take into our beds is explored with such depth in so short a time.

Orson Scott card is truly one of the most talented writers I have ever had the pleasure of reading. This entire book is an exploration of love and the human heart. It has been a long time since I have read something that causes me to make such a strong connection with the characters within the story. Card has done this successfully and once again demonstrates an understanding of the human heart and mind that is rare among writers.

I love this book. It is truly and incredible story. The ending of this book has such a strong emotional impact that it is hard not to feel a deep love and respect for Ansett and all that he has been through. It draws you in and causes you to love him dearly as you would your closest and most beloved friend.

The story of Ansett is a truly powerful and amazing story from an incredibly gifted writer. It is inspired and a story that transcends times because love is eternal and so are the stories that love tells.

If you have not read this book you need to do it. If I were to give this book a rating it would have to without doubt be a 10/10 books worms. I would have to put it right up there with Enders Game as one of the best books I have ever read!

READ IT!  You will not regret it!

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