‘The Swarm’ by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston is the first novel in the Second Formic War Trilogy and a sequel to the First Formic War Trilogy (‘Earth Unaware’; ‘Earth Afire’; ‘Earth Awakens’).
Following the First Formic War, ‘The Swam’ revisits the altered lives of Mazer Rackham, Bingwen, Lem Jukes and Victor Delgado. Earth’s faint success after The Scourging of China left humanity in a nervous state. Likewise, the pace of the novel leaves readers sweating with the mounting pressure of the anticipated second invasion.
Can the Hegemon pull humanity together long enough to fund an interplanetary war with adequate cash and soldiers? Can the International Fleet recognize the uselessness of career bureaucrats in the face of an intelligent enemy? Can Juke Limited arm the world’s military with technology sophisticated enough to defeat the Hive Queen and her swarm?
Desperate for survival, humanity is willing to win this war at all costs. For this reason, ‘The Swarm’ is more similar to ‘Ender’s Game’ than any of the three other prequel novels. To my delight, ‘The Swarm’ mimics signature ‘Ender’s Game’ elements such as resistance against authority, creative problem solving and childish wit.
Fans will enjoy the subtle development of the Battle School’s foundation, including zero-gravity training, flash guns, battle suits, armies, stars in the battle room, and even the ansible.
I love ‘The Swarm’ so much that I plan to recommend the prequel trilogies to younger ‘Ender’s Game’ fans over the Shadow Series. It’s easily my favorite novel Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston have collaborated on.
As a fan of the Enderverse, I appreciate that Card and Johnston have constructed the story in a way that unifies parts of ‘The Gold Bug’, ‘Mazer in Prison’, ‘Speaker for the Dead’, ‘Shadows in Flight’ and film canon. It’s quite impressive.
For readers less familiar with the entire Enderverse, I must recommend reading at least the First Formic War trilogy beforehand. Any of the other novels or short stories, including ‘Ender’s Game’, are unnecessary to understand the plot.
I only have two grievances against ‘The Swarm’. Firstly, the physics and biochemistry explanations behind some of technologies seems slightly misguided regarding the laws of thermodynamics. I won’t give any spoilers in this review, but I’m pointing at you, chapters 18 and 25! My second grievance is that ‘The Swarm’ had to end at all.
On a final note, I think it’s endearing that this novel is sweetly dedicated to our amazing ‘Ender’s Game’ film producer, Lynn Hendee.
‘The Swarm’ will be released tomorrow, August 2. Purchase it at your local bookstore or buy it on Amazon.
Disclaimer: A special thanks to Tor Books for providing ‘Earth Awakens’ for review. All opinions are my own.