Pathfinder (Serpent World Series #1)

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Overview

From the author of Ender’s Game, the soon-to-be major motion picture!

A powerful secret. A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange talent for seeing the paths of people's pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him—secrets about Rigg's own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the ...

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Pathfinder (Serpent World Series #1)

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Overview

From the author of Ender’s Game, the soon-to-be major motion picture!

A powerful secret. A dangerous path.

Rigg is well trained at keeping secrets. Only his father knows the truth about Rigg's strange talent for seeing the paths of people's pasts. But when his father dies, Rigg is stunned to learn just how many secrets Father had kept from him—secrets about Rigg's own past, his identity, and his destiny. And when Rigg discovers that he has the power not only to see the past, but also to change it, his future suddenly becomes anything but certain.

Rigg’s birthright sets him on a path that leaves him caught between two factions, one that wants him crowned and one that wants him dead. He will be forced to question everything he thinks he knows, choose who to trust, and push the limits of his talent…or forfeit control of his destiny.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Only his father knew that Rigg possessed the power to see deep down the paths of people's pasts. But it was only after his father died that Rigg discovers that he has another special gift: the power to change the past. Unfortunately, with that knowledge, all certainty and safety began to melt away. Thinking of it as a coming-of-age novel at triple speed.

Publishers Weekly
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.)
From the Publisher
"The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly…, feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax….Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots.” —Kirkus

* "Fast paced and thoroughly engrossing, the 650-plus pages fly by, challenging readers to care about and grasp sophisticated, confusing, and captivating ideas." —Booklist, starred review

"Card entwines two stories in this fascinatingly complex series opener....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." —PW, starred review

From the Publisher
"The implications of the boys' power to manipulate the past unfold cleverly…, feeding into the Machiavellian political intrigue for a pulse-pounding climax….Card's many fans will be thrilled by this return to his literary roots.” —Kirkus

* "Fast paced and thoroughly engrossing, the 650-plus pages fly by, challenging readers to care about and grasp sophisticated, confusing, and captivating ideas." —Booklist, starred review

"Card entwines two stories in this fascinatingly complex series opener....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." —PW, starred review

Children's Literature - Janis Flint-Ferguson
Pathfinder is the complex story of a developing culture set in contrast to the flight of a space craft carrying humans away from their dying world. Thirteen year old Rigg is being educated by his father in the outlying region of their world. He is incredibly smart in the ways of a hunter, but truly naive in the ways of the world. More than that, Rigg has the ability to see the paths that people and animals have taken. On one hunting trip, Rigg's father is killed by a falling tree and so Rigg must maneuver the world on his own, with only his father's words to find his sister as a mystery indicating that Rigg is not really alone. But finding his sister is going to put Rigg into a broader view of the world and he is not well suited for that social dynamic. However, after a horrible set of circumstances that result in the death of a young boy, Rigg is joined by his neighbor Umbo, who is escaping his father's abuse. The two boys strike out on a journey that introduces them to hard working rivermen, governmental military, and the embattled aristocracy of their world. Umbo, too, has a gift that will prove important if they are to find Rigg's sister and save her. The story is part quest and partly a careful unraveling of how civilizations are built. Always in the background is the story of the fleeing humans, searching for a new world. Card's fans will be drawn into the mammoth odyssey that ends with just enough information to prepare them for a second installment. The story twists and turns through a new world with humanity and human characteristics as its real subject. Reviewer: Janis Flint-Ferguson
Kirkus Reviews

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)

School Library Journal
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
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416991762
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Series: Serpent World Series , #1
  • Pages: 672
  • Sales rank: 252,232
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Orson Scott Card

Born in Richland, Washington in 1951, Orson Scott Card grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He lived in Brazil for two years as an unpaid missionary for the Mormon Church and received degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. The author of numerous books in several genres, Card is best known for Ender’s Game and his online magazine, Intergalactic Medicine Show (www.oscigms.com). He teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University, and lives with his family in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Biography

Any discussion of Orson Scott Card's work must necessarily begin with religion. A devout Mormon, Card believes in imparting moral lessons through his fiction, a stance that sometimes creates controversy on both sides of the fence. Some Mormons have objected to the violence in his books as being antithetical to the Mormon message, while his conservative political activism has gotten him into hot water with liberal readers.

Whether you agree with his personal views or not, Card's fiction can be enjoyed on many different levels. And with the amount of work he's produced, there is something to fit the tastes of readers of all ages and stripes. Averaging two novels a year since 1979, Card has also managed to find the time to write hundreds of audio plays and short stories, several stage plays, a television series concept, and a screenplay of his classic novel Ender's Game. In addition to his science fiction and fantasy novels, he has also written contemporary fiction, religious, and nonfiction works.

Card's novel that has arguably had the biggest impact is 1985's Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ender's Game. Ender's Game introduced readers to Andrew "Ender" Wiggin, a young genius faced with the task of saving the Earth. Ender's Game is that rare work of fiction that strikes a chord with adults and young adult readers alike. The sequel, Speaker for the Dead, also won the Hugo and Nebula awards, making Card the only author in history to win both prestigious science-fiction awards two years in a row.

In 2000, Card returned to Ender's world with a "parallel" novel called Ender's Shadow. Ender's Shadow retells the events of Ender's Game from the perspective of Julian "Bean" Delphinki, Ender's second-in-command. As Sam to Ender's Frodo, Bean is doomed to be remembered as an also-ran next to the legendary protagonist of the earlier novel. In many ways, Bean is a more complex and intriguing character than the preternaturally brilliant Ender, and his alternate take on the events of Ender's Game provide an intriguing counterpoint to fans of the original series.

In addition to moral issues, a strong sense of family pervades Card's work. Card is a devoted family man and father to five (!) children. In the age of dysfunctional family literature, Card bristles at the suggestion that a positive home life is uninteresting. "How do you keep ‘good parents' from being boring?" he once said. "Well, in truth, the real problem is, how do you keep bad parents from being boring? I've seen the same bad parents in so many books and movies that I'm tired of them."

Critical appreciation for Card's work often points to the intriguing plotlines and deft characterizations that are on display in Card's most accomplished novels. Card developed the ability to write believable characters and page-turning plots as a college theater student. To this day, when he writes, Card always thinks of the audience first. "It's the best training in the world for a writer, to have a live audience," he says. "I'm constantly shaping the story so the audience will know why they should care about what's going on."

Card brought Bean back in 2005 for the fourth and final novel in the Shadow series: Shadow of the Giant. The novel presented some difficulty for the writer. Characters who were relatively unimportant when the series began had moved to the forefront, and as a result, Card knew that the ending he had originally envisioned would not be enough to satisfy the series' fans.

Although the Ender and Shadow series deal with politics, Card likes to keep his personal political opinions out of his fiction. He tries to present the governments of futuristic Earth as realistically as possible without drawing direct analogies to our current political climate. This distance that Card maintains between the real world and his fictional worlds helps give his novels a lasting and universal appeal.

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    1. Hometown:
      Greensboro, North Carolina
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Richland, Washington
    1. Education:
      B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
If a Tree Falls

Saving the human race is a frantic business. Or a tedious one.
It all depends on what stage of the process you’re taking part in.

• • •

Rigg and Father usually set the traps together, because it was Rigg who had the knack of seeing the paths that the animals they wanted were still using.

Father was blind to it—he could never see the thin shimmering trails in the air that marked the passage of living creatures through the world. But to Rigg it was, and always had been, part of what his eyes could see, without any effort at all. The newer the path, the bluer the shimmer; older ones were green, yellow; the truly ancient ones tended toward red.

As a toddler, Rigg had quickly learned what the shimmering meant, because he could see everyone leaving trails behind them as they went. Besides the color, there was a sort of signature to each one, and over the years Rigg became adept at recognizing them. He could tell at a glance the difference between a human and an animal, or between the different species, and if he looked closely, he could sort out the tracks so clearly that he could follow the path of a single person or an individual beast.

Once, when Father first started taking him out trapping, Rigg had made the mistake of following a greenish trail. When they reached the end of it, there were only a few old bones scattered where animals had torn the carcass many months ago.

Father had not been angry. In fact, he seemed amused. “We need to find animals with their skins still fresh,” said Father. “And a little meat on them for us to eat. But if I had a bone collection, these would do nicely. Don’t worry, Rigg.”

Father never criticized Rigg when it came to his knack for pathfinding. He simply accepted what Rigg could do, and encouraged him to hone his skill. But whenever Rigg started to tell someone about what he could do, or even speak carelessly, so they might be able to figure out that he had some unusual ability, Father was merciless, silencing him at once.

“It’s your life,” said Father. “There are those who would kill you for this. And others who would take you away from me and make you live in a terrible place and make you follow paths for them, and it would lead to them killing the ones you found.” And, to make sure Rigg understood how serious this was, he added, “And they would not be beasts, Rigg. You would be helping them murder people.”

Maybe Father shouldn’t have told him that, because it haunted Rigg’s thoughts for months afterward—and not just by giving him nightmares. It made Rigg feel very powerful, to think that his ability might help men find criminals and outlaws.

But all that was when Rigg was still little—seven or eight years old. Now he was thirteen and his voice was finally changing, and Father kept telling him little things about how to deal with women. They like this, they hate that, they’ll never marry a boy who does this or doesn’t do that. “Washing is the most important thing,” Father said—often. “So you don’t stink. Girls don’t like it when boys stink.”

“But it’s cold,” said Rigg. “I’ll wash later, just before we get back home.”

“You’ll wash every day,” said Father. “I don’t like your stink either.”

Rigg didn’t really believe that. The pelts they took from the trapped animals stank a lot worse than Rigg ever could. In fact, the stink of the animal skins was Rigg’s main odor; it clung to his clothing and hair like burrs. But Rigg didn’t argue. There was no point in arguing.

For instance, this morning, before they separated, they were talking as they walked through the woods. Father encouraged talking. “We’re not hunters, we’re trappers,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if the animals run from us right now, because we’ll catch them later, when they can’t see us or hear us or even smell us.”

Thus Father used their endless walks for teaching. “You have a severe case of ignorance, boy,” he often said. “I have to do my best to cure that sickness, but it seems like the more I teach you, the more things you don’t know.”

“I know everything I need to know already,” Rigg always said. “You teach me all kinds of strange things that have nothing to do with the way we live. Why do I need to know about astronomy or banking or all these languages you make me speak? I find the paths of animals, we trap them, we sell the furs, and I know how to do every bit of it.”

To which Father always replied, “See how ignorant you are? You don’t even know why you need to know the things you don’t know yet.”

“So tell me,” said Rigg.

“I would, but you’re too ignorant to understand the reasons why your ignorance is a fatal disease. I have to educate you before you’ll understand why it was worth the bother trying to tan your brain.” That’s what he called their schooling sessions: tanning Rigg’s brain.

Today they were following the trail of an elusive pench, whose pelt was worth ten otters, because penchfur was so thick and the colors so vibrant. During a brief lull in Father’s endless teaching, during which he was presumably trying to come up with another problem for Rigg to work out in his head (“If a board fence is nine hands high and a hundred and twenty yards long, how many feet of four-inch slat will you need to buy from the lumbermill, knowing that the slats come in twenty- and fourteen-hand lengths?” Answer: “What good is a nine-hand-high slat fence? Any animal worth keeping inside it can climb it or jump over it or knock it down.” Then a knuckle on the back of his head and he had to come up with the real answer), Rigg started talking about nothing at all.

“I love autumn,” said Rigg. “I know it means winter is coming, but winter is the reason why people need our furs so I can’t feel bad about that. It’s the colors of the leaves before they fall, and the crunching of the fallen leaves underfoot. The whole world is different.”

“The whole world?” asked Father. “Don’t you know that on the southern half of the world, it isn’t even autumn?”

“Yes, I know that,” said Rigg.

“And even in our hemisphere, near the tropics it’s never autumn and leaves don’t fall, except high in the mountains, like here. And in the far north there are no trees, just tundra and ice, so leaves don’t fall. The whole world! You mean the tiny little wedge of the world that you’ve seen with your own ignorant eyes.”

“That’s all the world I’ve seen,” said Rigg. “If I’m ignorant of the rest, that’s your fault.”

“You aren’t ignorant of the rest, you just haven’t seen it. I’ve certainly told you about it.”

“Oh, yes, Father, I have all kinds of memorized lists in my head, but here’s my question: How do you know all these things about parts of the world we can never ever see because they’re outside the Wall?”

Father shrugged. “I know everything.”

“A certain teacher once told me that the only truly stupid man is the one who doesn’t know he’s ignorant.” Rigg loved this game, partly because Father eventually got impatient with it and told him to shut up, which would mean Rigg had won.

“I know that I know everything because there are no questions to which I don’t know the answer.”

“Excellent,” said Rigg. “So answer this question: Do you know the answers to the questions you haven’t thought of yet?”

“I’ve thought of all the questions,” said Father.

“That only means you’ve stopped trying to think of new ones.”

“There are no new questions.”

“Father, what will I ask you next?”

Father huffed. “All questions about the future are moot. I know all the answers that are knowable.”

“That’s what I thought. Your claim to know everything was empty brag.”

“Careful how you speak to your father and teacher.”

“I chose my words with the utmost precision,” said Rigg, echoing a phrase that Father often used. “Information only matters if it helps us make correct guesses about the future.” Rigg ran into a low-hanging branch. This happened rather often. He had to keep his gaze upward, because the pench had moved from branch to branch. “The pench crossed the stream,” he said. Then he clambered down the bank.

Vaulting over a stream did not interrupt the conversation. “Since you can’t know which information you’ll need in the future, you need to know everything about the past. Which I do,” said Father.

“You know all the kinds of weather you’ve seen,” said Rigg, “but it doesn’t mean you know what weather we’ll have next week, or if there’ll be a kind of weather you never saw before. I think you’re very nearly as ignorant as I am.”

“Shut up,” said Father.

I win, said Rigg silently.

A few minutes later, the trail of the pench went up into the air and kept going out of sight. “An eagle got him,” Rigg said sadly. “It happened before we even started following his path. It was in the past, so no doubt you knew it all along.”

Father didn’t bother to answer, but let Rigg lead them back up the bank and through the woods to where Rigg first spotted the pench’s trail. “You know how to lay the traps almost as well as I do,” said Father. “So you go do it, and then come find me.”

“I can’t find you,” said Rigg. “You know I can’t.”

“I don’t know any such thing, because no one can know a false thing, one can only believe it with certainty until it is contradicted.”

“I can’t see your path,” said Rigg, “because you’re my father.”

“It’s true that I’m your father, and it’s true you can’t see my path, but why do you assume that there’s a causal connection between them?”

“Well, it can’t go the other way—you can’t be my father because I can’t see your path.”

“Do you have any other fathers?”

“No.”

“Do you know of any other pathfinder like you?”

“No.”

“Therefore you can’t test to see if you can’t see the paths of your other fathers, because you don’t have any. And you can’t ask other pathfinders whether they can find their fathers’ paths, because you don’t know any. So you have no evidence one way or another about what causes you not to be able to see my path.”

“Can I go to bed now?” asked Rigg. “I’m already too tired to go on.”

“Poor feeble brain,” said Father. “But how it could wear out I don’t know, considering you don’t use it. How will you find me? By following my path with your eyes and your brain instead of this extraordinary ability of yours. You’ll see where I leave footprints, where I break branches.”

“But you don’t leave footprints if you don’t want to, and you never break branches unless you want to,” said Rigg.

“Ah,” said Father. “You’re more observant than I thought. But since I told you to find me after the traps are set, doesn’t it stand to reason that I will make it possible for you to do it, by leaving footprints and breaking branches?”

“Make sure you fart frequently, too,” Rigg suggested. “Then I can track you with my nose.”

“Bring me a nice switch to beat you with when you come,” said Father. “Now go and do your work before the day gets too warm.”

“What will you be doing?”

“The thing that I need to do,” said Father. “When you need to know what that is, I’ll tell you.”

And they parted.

Rigg set the traps carefully, because he knew this was a test. Everything was a test. Or a lesson. Or a punishment from which he was supposed to learn a lesson, on which he would be tested later, and punished if he hadn’t learned it.

I wish I could have a day, just a single day, without tests or lessons or punishments. A day to be myself, instead of being Father’s project to make me into a great man. I don’t want to be great. I just want to be Rigg.

Even taking great care with the traps, leaving them in each beast’s most common path, it didn’t take that long to set them all. Rigg stopped to drink, and then to empty his bladder and bowel and wipe his butt with leaves—another reason to be grateful for the autumn. Then Rigg backtracked his own trail to the place where he and Father parted.

There wasn’t a sign of where Father went. Rigg knew his starting direction because he had seen him go. But when he walked that way, Father had left no broken branches, no footprints, nothing to mark his passing.

Of course, thought Rigg. This is a test.

So he stood there and thought. Father might mean me to continue in the direction I saw him go when we parted, and only after a long time will he leave a mark. That would be a lesson in patience and trust.

Or Father might have doubled back as soon as I was out of sight, and left in another direction entirely, blazing a trail for my eyes to see, but only after I had walked blindly for a while in each random direction.

Rigg spent an hour doubling back again and again, so he could search for Father’s signs of passing in every direction. No luck, of course. That would have been far too easy a challenge.

Again he stood and thought. Father listed the signs he could leave; therefore he isn’t going to leave any of those signs. He’ll leave different signs and my job is to be creative and think of what they might be.

Rigg remembered his own snotty remark about farts and sniffed the air, but he had only the ordinary human sense of smell and he couldn’t detect a thing that way, so that couldn’t be Father’s game.

Sight and smell haven’t worked. Taste seemed ludicrous. Could Father leave a clue using sound?

Rigg gave it a try. He stood in absolute stillness so that he could truly hear the sounds of the forest. It was more than holding his body still. He had to calm himself and concentrate, so that he could separate sounds in his mind. His own breathing—he had to be aware of it, then move past it so he could hear the other sounds around him. Then the near sounds—a scurry of a mouse, the scamper of a squirrel, the jarring notes of a bird’s song, the burrowing of a mole.

And then he heard it. Very distant. A voice. A human voice. Impossible to know what words it was saying, if any; impossible to know if it was Father. But he could tell what general direction it was coming from, and so he moved that way, trotting along a path used by many deer so he could make good time. There was a low rise on the left that might block sound—he wanted to get past that; he knew there was a stream to the right, and if he got too close to that the babble of the water might drown out the voice.

Then he stopped and went into stillness again. This time he was reasonably sure the voice was Father’s. And he was more certain of the direction.

It took two more stops before he could hear the voice clearly enough to run continuously till he reached Father. He was saving up some choice criticisms of this tracking method when he finally reached the spot where the voice was coming from, a clearing where a large tree had recently fallen. In fact, the path of the falling tree was still sparkling blue. There was little occasion to follow plants, since they moved so little, except a bit of waving and bending in the breeze, but this tree must have fallen only a few hours ago, and the movement of its fall had marked a bright path through the air.

Rigg couldn’t see Father at all.

‘“Where are you?” he asked.

He expected some remark with a barbed lesson in it, but instead Father said, “You’ve come far enough, Rigg. You’ve found me.”

“No, I haven’t, Father.”

“You’ve come as close as I want you to. Listen carefully. Do not come any closer to me.”

“Since I don’t know where you are—”

“Shut up,” said Father.

Rigg fell silent and listened.

“I’m pinned under the tree,” said Father.

Rigg cried out and took a step toward the tree.

“Stop!” cried Father.

Rigg stopped.

“You see the size of the tree,” said Father. “You cannot lift it. You cannot move it.”

“With a lever, Father, I could—”

“You cannot move it because I have been pierced by two branches, completely through my belly.”

Rigg cried out, imagining the pain of it, feeling his own fear at Father’s injury. Father was never hurt. Father never even got sick.

“Any further movement of the tree will kill me, Rigg. I have used all my strength calling to you. Listen now and don’t waste what life I have left on any kind of argument.”

“I won’t argue,” Rigg said.

“First, you must make your most solemn promise that you will not come look at me, now while I’m alive or later after I’m dead. I don’t want you to have this terrible image in your memory.”

It couldn’t possibly be worse than what I’m imagining, Rigg said silently. Then he silently gave himself Father’s own answer: You can’t possibly know whether what you imagine is worse than the reality. I can see the reality, you can’t, so . . . shut up.

“I can’t believe you didn’t argue with me right then,” said Father.

“I did,” said Rigg. “You just didn’t hear me.”

“All right then,” said Father. “Your oath.”

“I promise.”

“Say it all. Say the words.”

It took all Rigg’s concentration to obey. “I promise solemnly that I will not come look at you, either now while you’re alive or later after you’re dead.”

“And you will keep this promise, even to a dead man?” asked Father.

“I recognize your purpose and I agree with it,” said Rigg. “Whatever I imagine might be awful, but I will know that I don’t know that it’s true. Whereas even if the reality is not as bad as what I imagine, I will know it is real, and therefore it will be a memory and not my imagination, and that will be far more terrible.”

“So because you agree with my purpose,” said Father, “following your own inclination will lead you to obey me and to keep your oath.”

“This subject has been adequately covered,” said Rigg, echoing Father’s own way of saying, We have achieved understanding, so let’s move on.

“Go back to where we parted,” said Father. “Wait there till morning and harvest from the traps. Do all the work that needs doing, collect all the traps so you don’t lose any of them, and then carry the pelts to our cache. Take all the pelts from there and carry them back to the village. The burden will be heavy, but you can carry it, though you don’t have your manheight yet, if you take frequent rests. There is no hurry.”

“I understand,” said Rigg.

“Did I ask you whether you understand? Of course you understand. Don’t waste my time.”

Silently Rigg said, My two words didn’t waste as much time as your three sentences.

“Take what you can get for the pelts before you tell anyone I’m dead—they’ll cheat you less if they expect me to return for an accounting.”

Rigg said nothing, but he was thinking: I know what to do, Father. You taught me how to bargain, and I’m good at it.

“Then you must go and find your sister,” said Father.

“My sister!” blurted Rigg.

“She lives with your mother,” said Father.

“My mother’s alive? What is her name? Where does she live?”

“Nox will tell you.”

Nox? The woman who kept the rooming house they sometimes stayed in? When Rigg was very young he had thought Nox might be his mother, but he long since gave up that notion. Now it seems she was in Father’s confidence and Rigg was not. “You tell me! Why did you make me think my mother was dead? And a sister—why was this a secret? Why haven’t I ever seen my mother?”

There was no answer.

“I’m sorry. I know I said I wouldn’t argue, but you never told me, I was shocked, I couldn’t help it. I’m sorry. Tell me what else you think I should know.”

There was no answer.

“Oh, Father!” cried Rigg. “Speak to me one more time! Don’t punish me like this! Talk to me!”

There was no answer.

Rigg thought things through the way he knew Father would expect him to. Finally he said what he knew Father would want him to say.

“I don’t know if you’re punishing me with silence or if you’re already dead. I made a vow not to look and I’ll keep it. So I’m going to leave and obey your instructions. If you’re not dead, and you have anything else to say to me, say it now, speak now, please speak now.” He had to stop because if Father wasn’t dead he didn’t want him to hear that Rigg was crying.

Please, he said silently as he wept.

“I love you, Father,” said Rigg. “I will miss you forever. I know I will.”

If that didn’t provoke Father into speech, nothing ever would.

There was no answer.

Rigg turned resolutely and walked back, retracing his own bright path among the trees and underbrush, along the deer path, back to the last spot where he had seen his father alive.

© 2010 Orson Scott Card

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 305 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(151)

4 Star

(95)

3 Star

(34)

2 Star

(9)

1 Star

(16)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 307 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 4, 2011

    Great story - Definite re-read

    Unlike other reviews, I will not provide a synopsis. The story was followed throughout the book. The characters grew, and evolved. I thoroughly enjoyed Card's descriptions, and his humor in the dialogue. I had read Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. I can see why the books are geared toward adolescent readers, but I'm not afraid to admit that this 42 year old enjoys a little fantasy reading. Some of the descriptions may be tough to tackle, but stick with it... the story is worth the time!!! Look forward to the next one in the series.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 3, 2010

    Orson Scott Card does not disappoint

    If you like sci-fi, colony stories then you should love this book. It is a lot like Ender's Game and so if you enjoyed that book you should read the Pathfinder.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    Don't Miss Out on this great read!!

    Orson Scott Card WAS not one my "Favorite Authors". His books are generally part of my "When There's Nothing Great To Read" list. Let's face it, most of us have our "Favorite Author" list, which takes priority and then there are authors that we enjoy from time to time, but they never quite made to the "Favorite Author" list, so they get relegated to a secondary list of things we'd like to read "When There's Nothing Great To Read". After Pathfinder, Orson Scott Card just got bumped. Pathfinder was a journey worth taking again and again! I've read the story once, loaned the book to my Mother who insisted on reading it THREE times, before she returned it and now I'm reading it again. Card broke a lot of science fiction rules and created his own. He created characters that you wanted to spend time with and a story line that is riveting. This book didn't disappoint in the least bit.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2010

    Big let-down

    I don't know what Orson Scott Card was thinking. In most of his books, the characters all seem impersonal, like there's no connection. That usually isn't a problem, because he adds other things to make the book interesting. In Pathfinder, it's like Card tries to make it unreadable; there are literally entire pages of philisophical dialogue between characters that is completly unnecessary. It's frustrating to read because the plot foundation has (or had) the potential to be an amazing story, but it went wasted because the author tried to make it into something completly different.

    6 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    It forces teens to mature too fast and that they are pushed out

    It forces teens to mature too fast and that they are pushed out into trouble by society and do not want that image of society to be in young teens minds

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2012

    Anonymous

    This was a very great story. I can see that it is not for everyone but if you like working your brain this is a good book for you. I would say that this is a great summer read BECAUSE it helps the reader think while keeping the reader thoroughly entertained. There are some confusing parts but if you justbstick with it everything is explained.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    Ehhh....

    This book sounded like it would be interesting for anyone who loves science fiction. This was not the case. All the characters were poorly developed and generally irritating to read about. The dialoug was annoying and unrealistic. The same thing goes on for many pages just repeating the same thing over and over again. I dont know if this book just wasnt for me but i would not reccommend it to anyone.

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Absolutely Wonderful!

    Yes, it's a bit hard to follow than my average type of book, but it's 200% worth it! OSC is such a brilliant writer, and this book is easily one of my new favorites. I can't wait for Ruins!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2012

    Really?

    Horrible from the beginning. I only was able to make it through chapter 2.

    2 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    this looks great!

    i personally love everything orson scott card writes, he is a genoius, now this book looks even more excting, it reminds me about alvin miller, but i can tell it wont be much like it, im sure this book will be an instant hit, i cant wait this it comes out

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    I love OSC, but....

    This book is painful to read, and I'm pretty sure I won't be finishing it. I'm about 2/3 of the way through, and the main character is making me nuts. I get the idea that he's trying to do anything to survive, but all the tricksy conversations with hidden undertones and explanations of why are exhausting. Unfortunately, I've experienced this kind of thing with OSC before, where the author seems to be entertaining himself with in-depth details about things I just don't care about. This is not a review of his writing, just a personal opinion based on what I like to read. Take that for what it's worth.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2012

    Interesting/Different

    Well, I would be lying if I said this was my favorite. Not bad. It was interesting because it had so many different concepts. And I genuinely found the characters interesting. But there were moments were it was like. Come on Card, let me see some Ender kicking Bonzo action. I felt like there was a lot of potential to be really awesome, but too much dialog and not enough action.

    Time travel is always kind of interesting. And he took it to an extreme writing here. Which I haven't seen before. But it took on more of a study of it, an exploration. Rather than creating an eventful book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2012

    Best books

    This was one of the best books I have ever read

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book!!

    I just started reading this book(chapter 3) and i already loving it,easy to read and very original for me,i never read science fiction until i got hookup by accident on The Hunger Games series and i love it,so yesterday i was looking for something like that and i did found it!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2012

    Not my cup of tea

    I really wish that authors who establish a readership base to let their faithful followers know when they are about to depart from the expected course. This book is a prime example of my gripe. It is a poorly written, overly long flight of fantasy with mostly two dimensional characters who go on a quest (so what else is new here? Tolkien and Donaldson did it much better) that takes the reader tediously on a boring journry through hundreds of pages that culminates in one of the weakest and amateurish conclusions. This is the second Orson Scott Card books that have thoroughly disappointed this once enthusiastic fan this year.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2012

    best book iv read in a while

    one word, AWESOME

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    Excellent, as should be expected from Scott Card.

    I love the unique twists and style.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2012

    Recommended

    I don't read a lot of books and my friend got me back into reading by making me read The Cleric Quintet and then into the Drizzt Do Urden books. This made me want to read more books I started with the Hunger Games and went to Barnes and Nobles and I saw this book and thought I'd give it a try, I am glad I did because it is a very interesting book it makes you think a lot but you might get lost in some of the dialogue if you are not familiar with time and space. The story reminded me a lot like Lost as far as the way it made you think and kept bringing more questions than answers. Towards the end most of your questions are answered but not all and that's where you will pick up in the second book called "Ruins"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2012

    H

    Ehhh, not even a decent read. I got through the first few chapters and i was like 'when will this be over?' The whole book doesn't even make sense until like the 20th chapter. Not recomended

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Not the greatest

    While this book had interesting plot lines that made me want to read to the end, the perspective from which it was written was extremely obnoxious. I also didn't enjoy the dialog between the main characters...it was just a lot of brainstorming, talking in circles, and guessing back and forth. And the character's personalities seemed a bit farfetched and one dimensional. And somehow I am hoping that the sequel will be better because I feel that the story still has potential. Another thing...why is the knife on the front cover!? Unless that becomes more important down the road...there was no need for it to be on the front cover!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 307 Customer Reviews

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