Mikal had conquered most of the inhabited worlds in the Galaxy, and the others tremble in fear of his armies. But he came to the Songhouse on Tew as a suppliant, asking for the services of one of the supremely gifted "Songbirds." It took the better part of a century to find the Songbird suited to Mikal – Ansset, The nine-year-old orphan who had been trained into a singer unequaled in the Songhouse's history.
The battle-scarred old Emperor came to look upon the boy as a son, and so for the first time in his life became vulnerable. It was therefore shocking, but not unexpected, when Mikal's enemies kidnapped Ansset... and turned him into a living weapon of destruction.
Ansset and Mikal surmounted that crisis, but there were others – and, as Mikal foresaw, the day came when he was betrayed and overthrown. The last and hardest lesson he had to teach Ansset was to use his art to its fullest in loyal service to the traitor who had cost Mikal his throne... and his life.
Mikal's legacy sustained his successor and in turn Ansset himself when the responsibility of Mikal's empire fell to him. Yet all his life Ansset knew himself for an exile from the Songhouse as a Songbird who had betrayed his gift by using it to wield power.
There was one way he could return – at an unbearably high cost – and the day came when he took that way.
Orson Scott Card (born 1951) is an American author, critic, public speaker, essayist, columnist, and political activist. He writes in several genres, but is primarily known for his science fiction. His novel Ender's Game (1985) and its sequel Speaker for the Dead (1986) both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win both science fiction's top U.S. prizes in consecutive years. He is also known as an advocate for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which he has been a lifelong practicing member, and as a political commentator on many issues, including opposition to homosexual behavior and the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Orson Scott Card. Wikipedia.
Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.