courtesy of hatrack.comWhen my dear friend Geardrops asked me to help out with her fantastic new Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan blog, The Fansible, I was reminded how much I adore Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  And while reminiscing on this fabulous sci-fi story, I was struck by its similarities to Harry Potter – a kid, chosen for his unique abilities, is thrust into a specialized school in a very foreign world.  Both of these heroes are trained to fight a terrifying enemy that devastated their worlds long before they could even comprehend what was happening, and both ultimately have connections with their enemies that define who they are.  And since Ender’s Game focuses so heavily on school-age kids, why not sort them into their respective Hogwarts houses?

Warning: The following contains spoilers for Ender’s Game.  If you haven’t read it and don’t wish to be spoiled, read no further!

Ender Wiggin: Our hero has something of an unfortunate life, and even at 6 years old, things don’t look great for him.  Born the third child of a family living  in a world of 2-children-per-family population control, his short childhood is wrought with constant teasing and hatred for his existence.  His older brother is jealous of his success (more on him later), and his peers mock him for his family’s blatant rule breaking, even if it was government-sanctioned.  The government had asked his parents to have a third child, when their first two children proved amazingly talented yet not quite suitable for their needs to ward off an imminent alien threat, thus deciding his entire life for him if he turned out to be suitable to lead the Interntional Fleet.  He excels in school and mostly tries to keep his head down, though he refuses to back down from a fight and instead works out, logically, that if he beats up the bully hard enough, it’ll stop any future fights before they begin.  His strategy works, but in the end, there’s no need for it.  He’s selected for the task the IF has at hand, and is shipped off to battle school.

If Battle School is a place where Ender hopes he can escape the tyranny of his brother and the mocking of his peers and possibly have the chance at a normal childhood, he’s sorely mistaken.  Alienated from his launch group right at the start, the teachers use his isolation to draw out his talents.  He works very hard to learn all that he can, and earns the respect and friendship of at least some of his classmates before he is promoted – quite early – into an army.

In Battle School, much of the focus is on the mock battles the armies participate in in null gravity.  Ender had been promoted early in his career, before he’d really grasped how to do anything in null gravity, into the Salamander Army, commanded by Bonzo Madrid.  Bonzo believes Ender’s presence is an insult to his command, and forbids him from actively participating in any fights – he’ll be there, as all members of the armies must be present, but he’s forbidden from firing his weapon.  But Ender is determined to learn.  Petra, one of his fellow Salamanders, offers to teach him how to shoot, and on his own initiative he gathers a group of his old friends from his launch group and practices with them in their free time.  And, above all else, he learns.  He watches how Bonzo commands, and takes note of his weaknesses and how he can improve.  In his last battle with Salamander army, as Ender’s the only Salamander who hasn’t been disabled, he’s able to single-handedly turn the loss into a draw.  Bonzo, instead of being grateful for Ender’s help, is furious that he disobeyed his orders.

Ender is transferred to Rat Army, where he’s put under the direction of Dink Meeker.  It’s here that he really begins to blossom, as Dink appreciates his brilliance and better guides him in the battles.  He absorbs the information like a sponge, and quickly proves himself to be the most adept soldier in the school.

Shortly after, Ender is assigned his own army, Dragon Army, and it’s here where things really start to go downhill for Ender.  His army is made up of new launchies and unmemorable veterans, but Ender is able to do amazing things with them.  After just four weeks of training – far less than most armies get – he’s given his first battle, and he wins.  The next day, a new battle, and he wins again.  This continues, on and on – the school administrators come up with every way possible to stack the cards against Ender, but his brilliance outwits them every time.  His record-breaking career angers his old commander, Bonzo, and Bonzo tries to kill him one day after a battle.  That same day, when Ender has already endured one battle and had to fight, literally, for his life, he’s forced into another battle against two armies.  He wins by outsmarting the computer that runs the battles, and decides to finally take a stand against the school and refuses to fight any more battles.  His decision is unnecessary.

Ender’s shipped off to Command School, where he learns the intricacies of commanding a fleet in far off sections of the galaxy with what he believes is an advanced computer simulator.  His teacher now is the legendary Mazer Rackham, the commander that previously won the war against the alien invasion.  He’s isolated even more now, but is overjoyed to learn that in his more involved exercises, his most trusted soldiers and friends from Battle School are now in command of sections of his fleet.  He learns how the enemy thinks; he understands their tactics and uses his armies wisely, but he is pushed very hard, and in turn pushes his friends very hard, and they’re all strained by the pressure.  He progresses through battles, winning every time, until what he is told is his “final exam,” where he’s faced with the alien homeworld.  Now, not caring what the adults will think of him, he ultimately sacrifices his entire fleet to destroy the planet and all surrounding enemies.  Only then, once the battle is complete, does Mazer inform him that it was a real battle, and he really destroyed the alien homeworld and the billions of aliens living there.

Ender is extremely intelligent, with a constant thirst to not only learn everything possible, but the why and the how and all the theory behind everything he can.  He gets into the mind of his enemy and exploits their weaknesses – he does this when he’s young and viciously attacks a bully who picked on him not expecting a fight, and when he’s older facing Bonzo, knowing that Bonzo’s Spanish honor will even the playing field.  He constantly looks at new ways to see things and do things and refuses to do anything that’s considered right or traditional unless he himself comes to the conclusion that it’s the best way to do things.  He’s naive and trusting until the point where it’s too late, he’s already been used as a pawn for someone else’s chess game.  He shows bravery when he knows it’s the smartest thing to do, but never truly chooses it on his own.  He’s malleable and thus easily believes things if they can be shown to be the most logical, but is often led astray by people who would choose to use his intelligence for their own means.

Verdict: Ravenclaw

Alai:  Alai is Ender’s first real friend in Battle School.  Starting out as the best friend of Ender’s nemesis in their launch group, Alai befriends Ender when they are the first launchies to grasp the concept of movement in null gravity.  Alai is well-liked by the entire launch group, and his acceptance of Ender helps soothe some of the hard feelings instilled by the administrators in an attempt to isolate Ender.  It’s with Alai that Ender begins his free-time battle practices, and he can bounce ideas – sometimes literally – off of Alai.  The two challenge and push each other to be better while remaining close friends.

In Ender’s time at Command School, Alai is one of the commanders he leads to battle against the Buggers.  While they are all pushed to the very limits of their endurance, Alai tries his best to calm Ender by cracking jokes from their early days at Battle School.  He, along with many of the other commanders under Ender’s leadership, stays by Ender’s side while he is recovering from the final battle and is the first person Ender speaks to upon waking.

Alai is one of the few characters in this book that could fit into a number of the houses.  He’s nearly as smart as Ender himself, smarter than the majority of the students at Battle School.  Yet he’s not afraid to break the status quo, and doesn’t buckle to peer pressure during a time when he could have been easily swayed by his friends’ prejudices against Ender.  His position in his launch group is perhaps the most telling about his personality – he’s liked and respected by everyone, and is accepting of those that others would shun.  He’s fiercely loyal to Ender and trusts his command implicitly.

Verdict: Hufflepuff, with strong Ravenclaw leanings.

Bonzo Madrid: Ender’s first commander is a product of honor and justice.  He firmly believes in the order in which things are done, and his world is turned upside down by this smudge of a launchie that replaces one of his soldiers far earlier than most students get promoted into armies.  But he refuses to be beaten by this obstacle, and swears that his army will be successful despite Ender’s presence.

Unfortunately for Bonzo, he’s really not prepared for Ender’s persistance.

First, Ender embarrasses him in front of his army by defying his order to not practice with his launch group during free time.  And then Ender embarrasses him in front of the rest of the school by unintenionally having the best ratings of all the soldiers even though he’s never fired a shot in a battle – in fact, Ender’s pristine rating is due to Bonzo’s order that he not participate in the battles.  But perhaps the worst thing Ender does is disobey his order – and turns a certain loss into a draw.

When Ender becomes a commander himself, tensions only increase with Bonzo.  He soundly beats Bonzo’s army when they should have had a head start, and Bonzo misinterprets Ender’s disdain with the administration as mockery of Salamander Army.  Dishonored time and time again by Ender, Bonzo plots to kill him.

Bonzo, along with a number of other students that dislike Ender, corner him in the shower and demand that Ender stop doing so well at the battles, that it’s not fair that Ender win all the time.  They advance on him, and Ender comments that Bonzo’s father would be so proud that it took him and six others to beat up a kid smaller than him – and Ender’s taunt works.  Bonzo tells his companions to hang back, that he’ll take on Ender himself.  But Ender’s too small, too quick, and too smart, and this confrontation leads to disastrous results for Bonzo.

Bonzo would rather lose, or die, with honor, than live with shame.

Verdict: Gryffindor

Dink Meeker: Ender’s toon leader in Rat Army is the first person to make Ender see that the games in school aren’t about the armies fighting against each other, but about the administration working against the students.  It’s a lesson Ender learns the hard way when he takes command, but at the time Ender can’t understand why Dink has refused the multiple offers to command an army.  He’s intelligent and teaches Ender everything he knows, and he’s a far better leader than their actual commander, Rose de Nose.

Dink is full of conspiracy theories.  In addition to thinking that the battles between armies are just a means of pitting the students against each other, he believes that there is no more alien threat, and that the IF is just trying to train up the best and brightest for an eventual war back on Earth.  However, he believes in Ender’s military ability and strives to nurture it as much as he can.    In the final battle he loyally follows Ender’s command.

Verdict: Gryffindor, though for very different reasons than Bonzo.  He stands up for the things he believes in, but is flexible enough to see that, while he may not have been 100% correct in his ideas, there is still a greater good worth fighting for and a champion to believe in.  So, Gryffindor, with a healthy dose of Hufflepuff.

Tune in on Thursday for more Ender’s Game sorting!