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What's the "preferred" order of reading the Ender series?

OSC REPLIES: - October 2, 2009

The "preferred order" depends on what you mean by "preferred," and who's doing the preferring.

There are two main story threads. One begins with Ender's Game, and proceeds to Ender in Exile (which overlaps with EG) and then on to Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.

The other story thread begins with Ender's Shadow (which is parallel to Ender's Game), and proceeds to Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant. Eventually the two threads come together with the book Shadows in Flight.

The short stories make things even more complicated. They should NOT be read in chronological order because even though many are prequels, they only take on their full significance if you have already read either EG or ES.

The Polish Boy and Theresa (in First Meetings) are the stories of Ender's parents - who they are and how they meet. Mazer in Prison (IGMS) is the story of Mazer Rackham's recruitment by Graff to be part of the training of the future commander of the fleeet.

The stories Cheater and Pretty Boy are the stories of Han Tzu (Hot Soup) and Bonzo Madrid when they were children on Earth, before going to Battle School.

Goldbug (standalone comic and IGMS story) takes place on the first world Ender goes to, where he discovers the hive queen. It slides into the middle of Ender in Exile ... somewhere ...

Investment Counselor (First Meetings) takes place after EG and Ender in Exile, and before Speaker for the Dead.

The story War of Gifts (a novella) takes place in the midst of Ender's Game - sort of a side story. It can stand alone. There is also an IGMS story called Ender's Stocking that overlaps with War of Gifts but focuses on a crucial time in Peter's life.

The stories A Young Man With Prospects and Ender in Flight are both part of Ender in Exile, so if you've read that novel, you've read those stories.

You can read the novels in the order of composition: Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, and Ender in Exile. (This poses the challenge for younger readers of the very talky, philosophical and adult Speaker, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind.)

You can read the novels as two separate threads in sequence. For younger readers, the best plan is to read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow in any order, and then proceed through the Shadow books and then all the shorter works, saving Speaker, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind until you're older.

Or you can struggle to read them in chronological order of the story, as described above.

Then again, the Empire books, the Homecoming series, and the Alvin Maker books are absolutely in chronological order and are very clear. They have nothing to do with Ender Wiggin or Julian "Bean" Delphiki, but at least you know what order they're in!

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