The Worthing Saga
By: Orson Scott Card
Reviewed By: James Hollenbeck
Review Date: 3/12/04
What if you were born in a world that did not know pain and sorrow? What if one day the pain and sorrow all came back? What if a man who could be god suddenly came to you? What if he refused to change things back, but instead asked you to write his story? That is the story of Lared, the boy chosen to write the story of Jason Worthing.
The Worthing Saga is a great book that collects several short and long stories. There are three parts in the Saga; The Worthing Chronicle, Tales of Capitol, and Tales from the Forest of Water.
The Worthing Chronicle is the main part of the book, and it chronicles Jason Worthing's experiences in three worlds; Capitol, Worthing, and Lared's world. The three worlds are distinctly different periods in a period of thousands of years. Capitol is a city-world, where civilization has become the most advanced, and the most dead. Worthing, the world named after Jason, is a world where humans start over again, and have to go through all the pain and all the joy their ancient ancestors did. Lared's world is one where God prevents all pain and suffering.
The Worthing Chronicle alone would have been enough. The presentation of each the three worlds will have an impact on the reader. With their various flaws and benefits, the book begs the reader to choose which they think is best. The characters, as in most of Card's books, seem like real people, with their high points and low points, and their merits and flaws. The Worthing Chronicle seems almost a collection of short stories broken up by a longer story. The book flows quickly, even considering it's only 268 pages and covers several thousand years of history. It leaves you wanting more.
Fortunately, there is more. Tales of Capitol contains several short stories about Capitol that try to show just why this world had to die. The stories are nearly all tragic, except for one featuring Abner Doon, the man who later sends young Jason to start a colony, and then destroys Capitol. The Worthing Chronicle doesn't say much about why Abner Doon wanted to destroy Capitol, so these additional stories are a great help in understanding history before the Chronicle, and just why the Chronicle happened.
The third part of the book, Tales from the Forest of Waters, are three of the earliest stories written about this universe, and three of the earliest stories ever written by Card. Their age shows, as they are much simpler and not as interesting as Card's other stories. In addition, these stories are retold in the Chronicle, and, as Card readily admits, contradict the Chronicle's versions. They are still good but simple stories.
The collection as a whole makes for a great book. Between The Worthing Chronicle and Tales of Capitol you get a good sense of the entire history of this universe. The clear pictures of the worlds provided and the choice between them presented will definitely make you think. Tales from the Forest of Water doesn't fit as well with the other two parts of the book, but they're still an interesting looking at the stories that later inspired The Worthing Chronicle.