The series is set in a future where mankind is facing annihilation by an aggressive alien society, an insect-like race known formally as "Formics", but more colloquially as "Buggers". The series protagonist, Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, is one of the child soldiers trained at Battle School (and eventually Command School) to be the future leaders of the protection of Earth.
Card first wrote Ender's Game as a novelette, but went back and expanded it into a novel so he could use Ender in another novel, Speaker for the Dead. That novel takes place three thousand and two years after Ender's Game, although due to relativistic space travel, Ender himself (now using his full name Andrew) is only 36, making him only 25 years older than he was at the end of the Formic Wars.
While the first novel concerned itself with armies and space warfare, Speaker for the Dead and its two sequels Xenocide and Children of the Mind are more philosophical in nature. They deal with the difficult relationship between the humans and the "Piggies" (or "Pequeninos"), and Andrew's (Ender's) attempts to stop another xenocide from happening.
A prequel to Speaker for the Dead named Ender in Exile was released in November 2008. It involves Ender's journey to the first colony, as well as his meeting a character from the Shadow saga, effectively wrapping up the final plotline of the parallel series.
Starting with Ender's Shadow, four more novels have been released which tell the story of the people whom Ender left behind – this has been dubbed the Shadow saga (also known as the "Bean Quartet"). Ender's Shadow is a parallel novel to Ender's Game, telling many of the same events from the perspective of Bean, a mostly peripheral character in Ender's Game, while Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant tell the story of the struggle for world dominance after the Bugger War, in which the Battle School children, as well as Ender's brother, Peter Wiggin, and Petra Arkanian are involved who go against Achilles de Flandres (from Poke's crew)
A sequel novel to Shadow of the Giant named Shadows in Flight further introduces Bean's children.
Shadows Alive, a future sequel, takes place after both Children of the Mind and Shadows in Flight, tying up the two series, and explaining some unanswered questions.
The First Formic War
Card and Aaron Johnston wrote a trilogy to cover the events of the First Formic War. Chronologically, this series comes before all other books in the Ender's Game series. Earth Unaware was released on July 17, 2012. Earth Afire, was released on June 4, 2013, and Earth Awakens on June 10, 2014.
The Second Formic War
On November 4, 2013, Johnston confirmed work on a second trilogy of novels covering the Second Formic War, with the manuscript for the first book due in 2014. The titles of the novels (In order) will be The Swarm, The Hive, and The Queens.
According to an interview with Orson Scott Card at Southern Virginia University, Fleet School is "a new set of sequels to Ender's Game. It's for a YA audience. It's what happens to Battle School after the International Fleet loses its purpose of war. It becomes what is called Fleet School, and it prepares kids to become commanders / explorers in the colonies that are going to be forming. We get to see that as the school administrators repurpose the school, the Battle Room is still there, but it's a whole different kind of education."
Novels in the series
To date, there are six novels in the Ender's Game series and five novels in the Shadow series. According to Card, there is no strictly preferred order of reading them, except that Xenocide should be read right before Children of the Mind. The books can be read in the order in which they were originally written or in chronological order.
Ender's Game (1985) – Nebula Award winner, 1985; Hugo Award winner, 1986; Locus Award nominee, 1986
^ abNote on the following (maybe not yet so common) Trilogies: "Speaker Trilogy": Original set of sequels to Ender's Game, also referred to as: - "Ender Quartet" (Ender's Game combined with "Speaker Trilogy"), also referred to as: - "Ender Quintet"("Ender Quartet" combined with Ender in Exile). "Shadow Trilogy": Original set of sequels to Ender's Shadow, also referred to as: - "Bean Quartet"/"Shadow Quartet" (Ender's Shadow combined with "Shadow Trilogy"), also referred to as: - "Bean Quintet"/"Shadow Quintet" ("Bean Quartet" combined with Shadows in Flight), to be (?) referred to as: - "Bean Sextet"/"Shadow Sextet" ("Bean Quintet" combined with Shadows Alive)
The movie Ender's Game was released in the UK on October 25, 2013 and in the USA on November 1, 2013. The first script was based on two installments of the Ender series, Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, when optioned by Warner Brothers, but was adapted to focus exclusively on Ender's Game when purchased by Lionsgate. The cast includes Harrison Ford, Abigail Breslin, Ben Kingsley, and Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin. The film was directed by Gavin Hood.
The Authorized Ender Companion
Written by Jake Black, The Authorized Ender Companion is "the indispensable guide to the universe of Ender's Game." Sections in this book include: The Ender Encyclopedia, Ender's Timeline, Ender's Family Tree by Andrew Lindsay, Getting Ender Right: A Look at the Ender's Game Screenplay Development by Aaron Johnston, and The Technology of Ender's Game by Stephen Sywak. The majority of the book consists of encyclopedia references to the events, characters, locations, and technology found in the Ender's Game series up to the publication of Ender in Exile.
The book is notable for having new and behind the scenes information on certain topics such as Battle School Slang, The Look of the Formics, The History of Hyrum Graff, Ender and Valentine's Travels, and Mazer Rackham's Spaceship.
Ender's World: Fresh Perspectives on the SF Classic Ender's Game
Ender's World contains 14 essays from Science Fiction and Young Adult writers, as well as military strategists and others about various aspects of Ender’s Game. The book includes an introduction by Orson Scott Card, who edited Ender's World and answers from many fan-submitted Enderverse questions from the Smart Pop Books Website. The following essays are included in the compilation:
"How It Should Have Ended" by Eric James Stone