Someone recently enquired, “What do people ask you most about Ender’s Game?” I simply responded, “What do I read next?” The problem with this question is the answer, more often than not I am asked this on Twitter so only have 140 characters to respond with, that isn’t nearly enough. Consider this my response.
Firstly, why the confusion? Well, the cover of Speaker for the Dead says “Book 2 of the Ender Saga”, Ender in Exile is tagged with the line “the direct sequel to Ender’s Game” and even Ender’s Shadow is called the companion to Ender’s Game! Easy to see why I’m asked this question. Now I will explain what to read, when, why, and I won’t spoil any story lines.
Obviously, the first thing to read is Ender’s Game. If you haven’t already bought it, get a new edition. Some small changes have been made to bring a few points into line with the other books. Don’t worry if you’re a collector then you can buy an older edition later, but read the new one first. Next thing to read is … wait for it… Speaker for the Dead. This story is the reason Ender’s Game was written as a novel. It also won both the Hugo and Nebula awards (as did Ender’s Game), so you know it’s going to be good. As it turns out, Speaker for the Dead is the first part of a larger story arc that concerns the planet Lusitania, also including the books Xenocide and Children of the Mind. I would suggest reading these as a trilogy, don’t expect the first two to finish the story, in fact don’t expect Orson Scott Card to finish a story.
So, you finished Children of the Mind, you got a little bogged down with Xenocide but it was worth it, and you still want more. Well, it’s Shadow time. After spending the last little while on Lusitania you are going to love returning to battle school with Ender’s Shadow, remembering the kids you loved in Ender’s Game, as it runs parallel but with a perspective change in the direction of Bean. The next three shadow books are again to be treated as a trilogy, the correct order is Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets then Shadow of the Giant.
Wait! Don’t jump the gun and read Shadows in Flight next. Now go for Ender in Exile, it ties off a loose end from Shadow of the Giant and even throws in a nice connection between Ender and the Shadow books. Also, you’ll have missed Ender while reading these three Shadow books. Ok so now you can read Shadows in Flight. It is the beginning of a link between the Ender story arc and the Shadow (Bean) story arc. Then it is Shadows Alive to complete the link, although that is not published yet, so you’ll have to wait with the rest of us.
If you still need more, well Mr Card has written plenty of short stories you can check out, I particularly enjoyed the few about Ender’s parents found in the short story collection First Meetings. Well that’s it, now you know how to read Ender’s Game and the connected works – enjoy.
As always comments are welcome below or on Twitter @EnderSpeaker
[Side note: There’s another suggested reading order in the FAQ here]