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A classic series by Orson Scott Card.
What’s the Ender’s Game Series about?
This is a series of science fiction books by Orson Scott Card? Everything started with the novelette “Ender’s Game,” which was later expanded into the novel of the same title in order to use the Ender character in another novel.
Now the Enderverse is composed of the Ender Series, the Shadow Saga, and the Formic Wars series.
Everything began with the story of “Ender’s Game” which is set in Earth’s future, when, after two conflicts with the Formics, an insectoid alien species, humankind is in peril. A third invasion must be prevented and children like Andrew “Ender” Wiggin are trained from a very young age with the use of increasingly difficult games to develop new tactics.
A film adaptation of the first book, written and directed by Gavin Hood, co-produced by Card, and starring Asa Butterfield as Ender, was released in October 2013. The novel has also been adapted into two comic book series.
How to read The Ender Saga in Order?
Every book was designed to stand alone, with the exception of the diptych “Xenocide“/”Children of the Mind“.
The Ender’s Game series in order of publication:
- Ender’s Game (Ender Series) – Once again, Earth is under attack. An alien species is poised for a final assault. The survival of humanity depends on a military genius who can defeat the aliens. But who? Ender Wiggin. Recruited for military training by the world government, Ender’s childhood ends the moment he enters his new home: Battle School. Among the elite recruits Ender proves himself to be a genius among geniuses. He excels in simulated war games. But is the pressure and loneliness taking its toll on Ender?
- Speaker for the Dead (Ender Series) – In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: The Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War. Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovered, but again the aliens’ ways are strange and frightening…again, humans die.
- Xenocide (Ender Series) – The war for survival of the planet Lusitania will be fought in the heart of a child named Gloriously Bright. On Lusitania, Ender found a world where humans and pequininos and the Hive Queen could all live together; where three very different intelligent species could find common ground at last. Or so he thought…
- Children of the Mind (Ender Series) – The planet Lusitania is home to three sentient species, brought there by Ender. But once against the human race has grown fearful; the Starways Congress has gathered a fleet to destroy Lusitania. Jane, the evolved computer intelligence, can save the three sentient races of Lusitania. But it takes all the processing power available to her, and the Starways Congress is shutting down the Net, world by world.
- Ender’s Shadow (Shadow Saga) – Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. This is the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean–the one who became Ender’s right hand, part of his team, in the final battle against the Buggers.
- Shadow of the Hegemon (Shadow Saga) – With the external threat gone, the Earth has become a battlefield once more. The children of the Battle School are more than heroes; they are potential weapons that can bring power to the countries that control them. One by one, all of Ender’s Dragon Army are kidnapped. Only Bean escapes; and he turns for help to Ender’s brother Peter.
- Shadow Puppets (Shadow Saga) – Peter Wiggin, Ender’s older, more ruthless, brother, sees that any hope for the future of Earth lies in restoring a sense of unity and purpose. And he has an irresistible call on the loyalty of Earth’s young warriors. With Bean at his side, the two will reshape our future.
- First Meetings (Ender Series) – This is a collection of four short stories. The first two take place when Ender’s parents are children and in their teens. The next is the original novella “Ender’s Game.” The last is brings Ender and Jane together for the first time.
- Shadow of the Giant (Shadow Saga) – Bean and his wife Petra yearn for a safe place to build a family, but there is nowhere on Earth that does not harbor his enemies. To find security, Bean and Petra must once again follow in Ender’s footsteps. They must leave Earth behind, in the control of the Hegemon, and look to the stars.
- A War of Gifts: An Ender Story (Ender Series) – a short novel set during Ender Wiggin’s first years at the Battle School where it is forbidden to celebrate religious holidays.
- Ender in Exile (Ender Series) – What happened during the years between Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead? Ender is now reviled as a ruthless assassin. No longer allowed to live on Earth, he enters into exile. With his sister Valentine, he chooses to leave the only home he’s ever known to begin a relativistic―and revelatory―journey beyond the stars.
- Shadows in Flight (Shadow Saga) – Bean flees to the stars with three of his children. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.
- Earth Unaware (Formic Wars) – Set a hundred years before Ender’s Game. Humans thought they were alone in the galaxy. When mining ship El Cavador’s telescopes pick up a fast-moving object coming in-system, it’s hard to know what to make of it. It’s massive and moving at a significant fraction of the speed of light. But the ship has other problems. Worrying about a distant object that might or might not be an alien ship seems…not important. They’re wrong. This is humanity’s first contact with an alien race. The First Formic War is about to begin.
- Earth Afire (Formic Wars) – Victor Delgado beat the alien ship to Earth, but just barely. Not soon enough to convince skeptical governments that there was a threat. They didn’t believe that until space stations and ships and colonies went up in sudden flame. And when that happened, only Mazer Rackham and the Mobile Operations Police could move fast enough to meet the threat.
- Earth Awakens (Formic Wars) – When the alien ship screamed through the solar system, it disrupted communications. So Earth and Luna were unaware that they had been invaded until the ship pulled into Earth orbit, and began landing terra-forming crews in China. Politics and pride slowed the response on Earth, and on Luna, corporate power struggles seemed more urgent than distant deaths. But there are a few men and women who see that if Earth doesn’t wake up and pull together, the planet could be lost.
- The Swarm (Formic Wars) – Earth has been reorganized for defense. There is now a Hegemon, a planetary official responsible for keeping all the formerly warring nations in line. There’s a Polemarch, responsible for organizing all the military forces of the planet into the new International Fleet. But there is an enemy within: ambition and politics. Greed and self-interest. Will Bingwen, Mazer Rackam, Victor Delgado and Lem Juke be able to divert those very human enemies in time to create a weapon that can effectively defend humanity in the inexorable Second Formic War?
- Children of the Fleet (Fleet School) – Dabeet Ochoa is a very smart kid. Top of his class in every school. But he doesn’t think he has a chance at Fleet School, because he has no connections to the Fleet. That he knows of. At least until the day that Colonel Graff arrives at his school for an interview.
- The Hive (Formic Wars) – A coalition of Earth’s nations barely fought off the Formics’ first scout ship. Now it’s clear that there’s a mother-ship out on edge of the system, and the aliens are prepared to take Earth by force. Can Earth’s warring nations and corporations put aside their differences and mount an effective defense?
The Ender’s Game series in chronological order:
- Earth Unaware
- Earth Afire
- Earth Awakens
- The Swarm
- The Hive
- The Queens (TBA)
- Ender’s Game
- Ender’s Shadow (Ender’s Shadow takes place in the same time period as Ender’s Game)
- A War of Gifts (This story takes place during Ender’s Game/Ender’s Shadow.)
- Children of the Fleet
- Shadow of the Hegemon
- Shadow Puppets
- Shadow of the Giant
- Ender in Exile (The beginning takes place during Shadow of the Hegemon and through Shadow of the Giant)
- Shadows in Flight
- First Meetings – It is listed here because of the last story.
- Speaker for the Dead
- Children of the Mind
- Shadows Alive (TBA)
There are more ways to read those books. Don’t hesitate to offer your recommended reading order in the comment section.
If you like Ender’s Game, you may also want to see our The Expanse reading order, or our guide to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Don’t hesitate to follow us on Twitter or Facebook to discover more book series.
thanks for the help ive heard of the movie and wanted to read the books first but theres so many and the only lists i could find also had short films so this is the best ive found
Don’t read the books first. Watch the movie first. Then read the book. The whole experience will be better.
I disagree. I read all of the books first (well, all the main Ender series and the Shadow series (not the collections of short stories interspersed) and feel that my perception of the characters and worlds would have been altered (and not in a good way) had I seen the movie first. This is, yet again, a time when it is better to read the book(s) before seeing the movie. (In my opinion) Seeing the movie first (as in all cases) forces your mind to visualize what the movie makers provided for you to see, rather than allowing your own mind create the visualizations based on the authors descriptions.
I couldn’t agree more. It is possible to use a movie to reinforce ideas you didn’t completely form in your mind, but it is much harder to erase a movie and replace it with the descriptions of a book.
Normally I would agree… but Ender’s Game is the main exception to that rule for me. If there is a book that I would ever recommend reading before watching the movie this would be the one
Orson Scott Card created a fabulous series. I read the Ender books as written, longing for each and every “next” book to be published. Love them still.
i read the books for the first time as follows:
speaker for the dead
children of the mind
all of the shadow books in order of publication
ender in exile
the formic war books in order of publication
i really enjoyed reading them in that order so i thought i’d share here for someone else looking to shake things up. 🙂
PLEASE do not watch the movie first! Although the movie is rather close to the books (better than most in my opinion), it is much better to read the beautifully detailed writing of O.S.Card then accept the condensed version of the movie. The other way around, I feel, would hinder your ability to enjoy the books—-THE BEST science fiction books ever!
You’re kidding me? The movies are not similar at all. I mean the whole Demosthenes plot is gone
So glad I found this. I decided to read chronologically from the beginning. But… I finished The Hive before I realized The Queens hasn’t been published yet. Should I skip it for now or wait? How long until it comes out? I really want to hear more of Mazer’s story!
The short story Mazer in Prison in on the internet. Orson Scott Card has it posted.
I’ve been reading Enders Game as my dad picked it up here in Australia and thought it was a great book. I’m almost finished and I know now Orson Scott Card books in Australia are harder to find. Guess I’m adding this collection to my library.
@Polemicist, I am listening to all the audiobooks, which have been done very well with very good actors/narrators. you can also get a Kindle version online. I hope you can find everything because they are absolutely fantastic!
And for anybody thinking of seeing the movie first before reading Enders Game, I did it the other ways around and I was very disappointed in the movie. So much of the juicy details were left out, and the relationships between Ender, Bean, and all the others just really didn’t get developed in the movie. these characters are so much more than they were able to depict in the movie version.
I just want to end by thanking Fabien for creating this list, it is incredibly helpful.
That is so true, because if you read the book first, when you see the movie you are going to be like: “hey! This is missing…!”, “they cut that off”, “this was changed”… In my case, I met this wonderful saga because of the movie, I regret not watching in the big screen, it was on cable a”but I loved it… and then I read Ender’s Game first and loved it more… then I watched the movie again and it was like I said… Then read the books about Ender first, because that is the order in the app of Books for iPhone, then I realized that the Ender’s Shadow was chronologically before, and wished I had read it fist… And then I got reading Ender’s Game again at the same time that Ender’s Shadow to see how the story of Bean was happening in Ender’s Game… a chapter in one book, then the parallel chapter in the other… Another mistake of the app in iPhone is that I read first Ender in exile, so I already new everything that was going to happen in the saga… I hope I had found this site before to see the chronological order… Now I am reading the Hive… and then I’ll read Children of the fleet, and hope The Queen and Shadow alive will come soon…