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In Ender's Game, the world's most gifted children were taken from their families and sent to an elite training school. At Battle School, they learned combat, strategy, and secret intelligence to fight a dangerous war on behalf of those left on Earth. But they also learned some important and less definable lessons about life. After the life-changing events of those years, these children―now teenagers―must leave the school and re-adapt to life in the outside world.
Having not seen their families or interacted with other people for years―where do they go now? What can they do?
Ender fought for humanity, but he 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.
One year after the Formics were defeated and the Battle School children have returned to Earth, Ender Wiggin is unable to return with them because there would be wars over which country would keep Ender to use for its own ends. Ender is offered the Governorship of the first human colony to be planted on one of the Formic's former worlds, a planet that will eventually become known as Shakespeare. His sister Valentine decides to accompany Ender on his journey because she is sick of being controlled by her older brother, Peter, and because she wants to restore the relationship with Ender that she had lost when he left to go to Battle School.
On their way to the Shakespeare colony, Valentine begins writing her history of the Formic Wars, while Ender has an unspoken power struggle with the captain of the ship, Admiral Quincy Morgan. There is also a romance between Ender and a girl named Alessandra Toscano. Once the ship lands on Shakespeare, Ender takes over as governor from the current leader, Sel Menach.
Ender resides as governor for a few years on Shakespeare. Near the end of his time as governor, Ender and a young boy from the colony named Abra Tolo go to find a site for a new shipment of colonists, who were redirected from Colony IX. Ender wants the new settlement to be far enough away from the other settlements that there will not be competition between them right away, and so they can develop separately.
In the process of finding a location for new settlement, Ender stumbles upon what seems to be the equivalent of a note from the Formics. It is a structure made to look like Fairyland, in the Mind Game. When Ender goes to investigate the structure, he finds the living cocoon of a Hive Queen that is fertilized and prepared to make hundreds of thousands of offspring upon its own maturation.
The find leads Ender to write his first book, The Hive Queen. It tries to look at the Formic Wars and the eventual destruction of their species from the point of view of the Formics. he signs the book as the Speaker for the Dead. Later, Peter Wiggin, nearing the end of his life and knowing that Ender wrote the story, asks him to write one for him for when he dies. This book becomes known as The Hegemon.
After this, Ender receives a letter from Hyrum Graff, delivering information on Randall Firth, a resident of Ganges who is actually Bean and Petra Arkanian's son. Ender resigns as Governor of Shakespeare and leaves the colony for Ganges, which is governed by another Battle School graduate, Virlomi. Here he encounters Randall, who believes himself to be the son of Achilles de Flandres, and even refers to himself by the name Achilles.
Randall spreads propaganda accusing Ender of Xenocide in an attempt to discredit Virlomi and get revenge against Peter Wiggin, who he believes is responsible for his father's defeat. Randall tries twice to meet with Ender and discredit him somehow. On the second visit, his plan is to cleverly provoke Ender into killing him so that people will see how violent and dangerous he is, but Ender does not attack.
Instead Ender tries to convince Randall that he is not Achilles' son, but that he is in fact the son of Bean and Petra; hence where he gets his gigantism from. Eventually, Ender manages to convince Randall of his parents' identity by allowing Randall to brutally defeat him in a one-sided fistfight, the entire time asserting that he could never hurt his friends' child. Randall ends up changing his name to Arkanian Delphiki amidst his guilt for Ender's horrifying wounds.
After Ender heals, he and Valentine board a starship to go to a new planet.
- One of the working titles of the book was Ender's Exile: Ganges.