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Orson Scott Card
Del Rey Books, 390 pages

Orson Scott Card
Born in Richland, Washington, Orson Scott Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid Mormon Church missionary, and received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine, and five children.

In an unprecedented fashion, Card won the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel two years in a row for Ender's Game and its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, in 1986 and 1987.

Orson Scott Card Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Heartfire
SF Site Review: Homebody
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site
Orson Scott Card Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Ken Newquist

As a 10-year-old running through the woods of the Ukraine, Ivan Petrovich Smetski found the impossible: a sleeping princess on a pedestal guarded by an unseen creature. And, just as in a fairy tale, the young woman was waiting for a knight to find and kiss her.

Instead she got Ivan, who entered the clearing, saw the girl, sensed the monster and fled to his Uncle Matek's farm. Not long afterward, his family of Russian Jews left the Soviet Union for the safety of the United States. During the flight, and in the years that followed, the girl haunted Ivan, making him wonder if she was real or just a delusion.

More than a decade later, Ivan was grown and thoroughly Americanized. He had followed in his father's footsteps and become a student of ancient Slavic languages, history, and folklore, while also becoming a respectable track-and-field athlete. When the time came to write his graduate school thesis on the origin of fairy tales, he returned to his original home. After months of research in Kiev, he decided to spend a few days at his uncle's farm. Soon after arriving, he went for a long run that led him to the same clearing he had found years before. To his surprise, the princess was still there, as was her guardian. But unlike his younger self, Ivan didn't run. Instead he fought.

Enchantment is a time-travelling story showing what happens when the fairy tale ends. In traditional tales, the knight kisses the princess, she wakes up, and they live happily ever after. In Enchantment, that's just the beginning. Our hero Ivan manages to defeat the beast guarding the girl, kisses her and then is forced to travel into her past. He meets the vile sorceress Baba Yaga, and must outwit her, both politically and militarily.

Orson Scott Card could easily have created his own fantasy world for his characters to run to and from, but the story wouldn't have been nearly as good. By giving reality to the tales of old Russia and the ancient ways of Jewish women, Card re-introduces us to our own history. He has done this before, with Roman Catholicism in the sequels to his science fiction classic Ender's Game and American legends in his Alvin Maker tales. As with those stories, he creates a convincing, enjoyable reality which is all the more believable because it's based on our own.

What drives the book isn't just the fight between good and evil, or the little bits of magic scattered about. What keeps the reader turning pages is the emerging love story featuring Ivan and his princess, Katerina. At the start of the book, Ivan kisses Katerina and awakens her from a 1,000-year slumber. But in Card's fairy tale, kissing the princess doesn't guarantee she'll love -- or even like -- the knight. It's a nice twist, and the tensions that result as the two eventually do fall in love are as entertaining as the witch Baba Yaga's manipulations.

Enchantment is a self-contained, fast-moving story that's a refreshing change from the fantasy "trilogies" that seem to dominate the mall bookstores. Fans of Card's fantasy-driven novels should enjoy this one; those who cut their teeth on Ender's Game will find it a nice vacation from science fiction.

Copyright © 1999 Ken Newquist

Kenneth Newquist is a confessed science fiction/fantasy addict living in Easton, Pennsylvania, and working as a webmaster at a small university in New Jersey. He's regular contributor to Science Fiction Weekly and is the editor of the speculative fiction webzine Nuketown.

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