Pathfinder by Orson Scott Card.
Simon & Schuster: NY, 2010.

The book has two storylines: a sci fi colonization, in which most of the story takes place on a spaceship en route to the new planet, and a medieval-like political fantasy, in which a royal heir has been hidden until he is well trained and travels to the capital. The second thread takes place after the first, after the colony has developed for 11,000 years.

When Rigg's father is dying, he tells Rigg to search for a sister he doesn't know exists. He learns through his travels that he is the Queen's (in name only) son. He is held in house arrest with his family. He has accumulated two faithful friends, Umbo from where he was raised and Loaf from a tavern on his journey. Rigg ingratiates himself with the servants in his new home, and he has a handy gift which enables him to keep track of people intending him harm. For instance, he can see that there are secret passages in the house used by spies, though the entrances are hidden. Because of his father's teachings, he is allowed to study at the Great Library as a scholar. His birth father was also a scholar, so Rigg determines to imitate his studies, leading towards revolutionary discoveries regarding the colonization. Things that had been hinted at in his previous education. During this period, he also gets to know his sister Param, who remains in hiding most of the time. Meanwhile, Umbo and Loaf are working on a way to help Rigg escape.

There is a brief focus on biology in the story. Machines called Expendables are in charge of populating the planet of Garden with species from Earth, including humans. It is an experiment to determine whether Garden can be inhabited by humans. Native versus Earth species provide the key for Rigg's understanding and realization of a method of escape.

Three characters have abilities that allow them to manipulate time and space fields. Umbo can move back in time. Rigg can see the paths that people and animals have taken throughout history. Together they can effectively change history. Param jumps forward in time. She moves so quickly that she seems invisible, though Rigg can see her paths. Orson Scott Card's playing with these concepts is what makes the story interesting.

Though the story is long, it is light fantasy/sci fi and moves quickly. It is a variety of genres, so would be a good selection for those newer to fantasy/sci fi. A sequel is out also - Ruins.

related-identity, psychic ability, time travel, interplanetary voyages, space colonies

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