by Orson Scott Card
Rigg and Umbo have started to hone their time traveling skills—and just in time. They discover that in the not-so-far future Earth visits Garden with the intent to completely destroy Garden. Now the two boys race to figure out why their parent planet would destroy a colony they created. Something the Earthlings found on Garden horrified them, but what?
Garden cannot fend off these attackers, so Rigg will have to find the motive behind the attack and change the past to stop it from ever happening. As Rigg searches for answers, he travels through different wallfolds. One is extinct of all human life, another seemingly populated by poop-throwing yahoos and sentient mice, and in a third, the people have evolved to live in the sea. But wherever he goes, Rigg finds people who want to manipulate him. With no one willing to tell him the whole truth, how can Rigg decide which path to take?
The second installation in the Pathfinder series takes the story up a notch. By expanding Rigg’s world from one wallfold to four, the reader is shown several different paths the human race could have taken. The what if’s are tantalizing. The world Rigg explores is as interesting and exciting as the actions he takes. Ruins is in no way linear. Now that Rigg and Umbo are skilled time travelers, their paths jump forward, go backwards, and sometimes cease to exist entirely. While these time jumps may cause one to stop and ponder for a while, they are written in a way that is relatively easy to follow.
- When discussing a parasite, it is said that “the only part of the earthborn brain it could control was the wild, competitive beast, bent on reproduction at any cost . . . That sounds like soldiers on leave.”
- Rigg notes that some mice are mating. Later, when starting a colony, Loaf says the mice are “mating their little brains out.”
- The humans that live under the ocean are naked. Larex comments on how Rigg is staring, to which Rigg replies, “I’m fifteen years old, I think . . . my eye goes to naked women.”
- Umbo explains that when they change something in time, children will be born, but the “mix of genes . . . will be different. Perhaps conception will happen on a different day. Or a different sperm will win through.”
- Yahoos, creatures that appear to be similar to humans with little intelligence, throw poop at Umbo and Loaf. “The watcher flung something out of his lofty perch. It splatted against Umbo’s cheek and shoulder. It stank. It clung . . . it was nightsoil. Presumably the watcher’s own.”
- Param is murdered. When she is skipping time, the mice move a metal rod into the space she is about to occupy. When she and the rod collide, “Param felt a searing agony in her throat, the heat of billions of molecules being torn about . . . she lived just long enough to feel the heat pulse through her entire body, every nerve screaming with the pain of burning to death in a searing moment.”
- To keep the mice in line, Olivenko points out that the humans “can break their little skulls under our feet.”
- Rigg and Loaf discuss the morality of preemptive killing.
- When Ram Odin tries to stab Rigg, Rigg jumps into the past and kills Ram with a knife. “He was also completely aware of the knife in Ram Odin’s hand, the hand that was darting forward to plunge it into Rigg’s kidney . . . In the very moment he caught Ram Odin’s knife, Rigg shifted half an hour back in time . . . the knife easily passed between the ribs of Ram Odin’s back and pierced his heart. A little flicking motion and both ventricles of Ram Odin’s heart were split open. The blood of his arteries ceased to pulse. He slumped over and, without time even to utter a sound, he died.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- The words “pissed” and “butt-ugly” are used once.
- Symbiotic creatures evolve so they can live in conjunction with humans. They attach to the human body and, depending on the breed, can provide benefits such as breathing underwater and increasing a person’s speed, eyesight, etc.
- Rigg discovers the Odinfolders have meddled in genetic alteration, and selectively bred themselves for traits they considered desirable.
- Humans are defined as any creature, no matter how diverse, that is descended from what we consider a homo sapien.
- Mice were bred for intelligence, to the point that Rigg says their souls look very similar to human souls.
- Param briefly wonders if death is better than life.
- Rigg accidentally copies himself by time traveling. Vadesh warns him to be careful or he will “run out of souls to populate these bodies that you accidentally make.”
by Morgan Lynn