Orson Scott Card is both blessed and cursed with being able to write books about very gifted children better than anyone I know. It is a blessing because with few exceptions his books are very good.
The negative is that his stories are reminiscent of each other, even when they have different settings and genres. Pathfinder is more fantasy (at least in the first book) than science fiction or dystopian. There are two storylines that do not quite merge in this book. I assume that we will learn more in future books.
What I think is happening is that a colony ship from Earth (the first one) had something unexpected happen when they tried to move through a fold in space. Instead of jumping something odd happened. We really do not know for sure what happened through most of the book.
The majority of the book concerns a boy of 13. He can see the paths of people and animals. He knows where they go and how long since they have passed. He knows what or who it was that passed through the space.
Early in the book his father dies. He is told to find his sister (that he didn’t know he had and that he has a mother, again that he thought was dead).
The rest of the book is the story of a very bright and very well trained boy learn to interact with a world that he was trained for, but did not actually know. He had grown up as a hunter and trapper on the very edge of society. But to find his sister he most travel to the capital and experience what he has only heard about.
Along the way he finds a friend that also has a gift. Together they have the power to change the world.
Of course there is conflict, and danger, and intrigue. And there are other characters that give their lives or at least are willing to.
Reading this has made me want to go back and read about Ender Wiggins. Ender is the classic Orson Scott Card character. This was very good and I really did enjoy it. But what it made me want to do was read about my favorite Card character. The rest of the series is not out yet. So I don’t know how it will turn out. But it has potential.
I listened to this on audiobook from the library. There were multiple voices and not all of them were as successful as others. But it has Stefan Rudnicki and he is my favorite reader and the producer of all of Orson Scott Card’s audiobooks.