Monday, October 18, 2010
By Orson Scott Card
This is the story of Ansset, a Songbird, one of the most coveted singers in the empire. Trained since a tiny child, Ansset doesn't sing just any old song. He sings what people feel, what he himself feels and his songs have the power to soothe, influence, instruct and lead.
Not just anyone can have a Songbird. The Songmaster of the Songhouse judges who is worthy to have a Songbird. (It is also very expensive to have a Songbird.) A person can only have a Songbird if they have the ability to truly appreciate it. Traditionally this meant that Songbirds could never go to someone who had killed, who was greedy or a glutton, to a person who loved power. So when the terrible, ruthless conqueror Mikal showed up at Songhouse demanding a Songbird, the Songmaster naturally assumed Mikal did not have the qualities required to possess a Songbird. But amazingly Mikal did have the required appreciation and so the Songmaster promised to send him a Songbird as soon as they found a child best suited to sing for Mikal. They warned him it might take a while to find the perfect candidate. It ended up taking more than seventy years until Ansset, the beautiful young boy singer who was exactly what Mikal needed.
So after spending his early childhood training at songhouse, Ansset is sent to Earth to live with Mikal in the imperial palace. He sings for Mikal and gradually a strong trust and affection is built between the two, as Ansset comes to veiw Mikal as his foster father. But uneasy lies the head that wears the crown and Mikal is very old and there is much plotting going on as factions struggle to gain control of Mikal's throne. And little Ansset is smack in the middle of it all.
This book was not to my taste. Ansset was too perfect for me. I found him rather repulsive and felt the whole book reaked of pedophilia. Ansset was just too precious for words and not in a good way. Plus, I don't really care for books about politics and all the dynastic stuff. Still, it was an interesting story, even if I found the characters all pretty unsympathetic. So I will rate it a fair read.