A brain-bending bildungsroman kicks off a promising science-fiction series. Rigg has spent all his 13 years trapping in the wild, aided by his peculiar ability to trace the past of any living being, until his enigmatic father's death thrusts Rigg into a wider world to search for his previously unknown sister. His friend Umbo (whose own special talent is slowing down time) tags along when they discover that their gifts can combine in unexpected ways. Rigg, Umbo and their various allies and enemies are likable characters (if preternaturally clever, witty and self-aware), and their interactions believable and charming. Their planet proves fascinating to explore, despite the highly implausible juxtaposition of advanced theoretical science with pre-industrial technology. The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly (if with interminable analytic dithering), feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax. Casual sexist references, a weird fascination with excretory functions and a baffling authorial afterword explaining "what 'really' happened" may put some readers off; still, Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots. (Science fiction. 12 & up)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Card entwines two stories in this fascinatingly complex series opener. In one, 13-year-old Rigg is living a contented life with his acerbic and intellectually challenging father as a backcountry trapper, using his magical ability to perceive paths that show the past movements of people and animals--anywhere from minutes to thousands of years earlier. Then his father dies suddenly, and Rigg becomes an outcast with his friend Umbo, after Rigg is wrongly blamed for Umbo's brother's death. Interwoven is the story of starship captain Ram Odin, whose interspatial jump toward a new colony world results in a bizarre paradox with far-reaching consequences. The result is an amalgamation of adventure, politics, and time travel that invokes issues of class and the right to control one's own life. Yet despite its complexity, the book is never less than page-turning. While Card delves deeply into his story's knotted twists and turns, readers should have no trouble following the philosophical and scientific mysteries, which the characters are parsing right along with them. An epic in the best sense, and not simply because the twin stories stretch across centuries. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
Gr 7 Up--Card's latest work of speculative fiction twists together tropes of fantasy and science fiction into something fine indeed. Rigg and his father are trappers by trade, but Rigg has been instructed throughout his 13 years in languages, sciences, history, and politics. The teen is therefore somewhat mentally prepared for the quest that his father thrusts upon him with his dying breath--to go to the capital city and find his sister. Both Rigg and his friend, Umbo, have a special ability that aids them--Rigg can see the paths of all living things, regardless of intervening obstructions or even time, and Umbo can seemingly change the movement of time itself. Needless to say, the two meet various friends and foes and can't always tell which is which as they journey onward. Juxtaposed with this main story is an entirely different narrative, told in a page or two at the beginning of each chapter. This is the tale of Ram Odin, human pilot of a colony ship from Earth, traveling to a new world with the use of space-folding technology. The combination of science fiction and fantasy as well as a surprising revelation at the end harken back to genre classics like Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentine's Castle (HarperCollins, 1980) and Roger Zelazny's Nine Princes in Amber (Doubleday, 1970). This novel should appeal to Card's legion of fans as well as anyone who enjoys speculative fiction with characters who rely on quick thinking rather than violence or tales of mind-bending time-travel conundrums.--Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI[Page 104]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.