The Memory of Earth (1992) is the first book of the Homecoming Saga by Orson Scott Card. The Homecoming saga is a fictionalization of the first few hundred years recorded in the Book of Mormon.
Humanity has lived for 40 million years on a planet called Harmony, after leaving an Earth
that has been destroyed by human conflict. In order not to repeat the mistakes that led to
the destruction of civilization on Earth, a computer, known as the Oversoul, was left as guardian of this planet.
Its main mission was to prevent humans from developing technologies that could make wars a global affair. For that, humans were genetically modified so they could communicate with the Oversoul. The Oversoul uses this connection to make humans severely uncomfortable when thinking about forbidden technologies. However, after this long time the Oversoul is beginning to fail, and it chooses a group of humans to return to Earth in search of the Keeper of Earth, in the hopes it will be able to find a way to maintain power over the people on Harmony.
To this end the Oversoul recruits Volemak, father of Nafai, the protagonist of the story. Nafai and Issib, his brother, begin to try and defy the Oversoul's capability to override thought. Through this they learn of the danger that it is in. Nafai begins hearing the Oversoul's voice in his mind. The first book focuses on the family's eventual betrayal, the taking of the Index, and the downfall of the man Gaballufix, who had been planning to ally the city of Basilica, the home of the main characters and the setting of the first half of the book, with a malignant nation.
Nafai, Elemak and Mebbekew, his older half brothers, Issib and his father Volemak are eventually forced to leave the city. They come back to retrieve the Index of the Oversoul, which allows them to communicate with it directly. Because of Nafai's careless blunders and miraculous successes, Elemak, Nafai's oldest brother, begins to hate him, a theme that will play out throughout the rest of the saga.
The characters listed here are those whose primary role is in The Memory of Earth.
For other characters, see Homecoming Saga
or individual books. Nafai
: Youngest son of Wetchik Volemak and Rasa by second contract, brother to Elemak, Mebbekew, and Issib. Nafai is a tall, 18 year-old-boy (14 in "temple years") who clearly hears the voice of the Oversoul in his mind. Nafai and his brothers and father are banished from Basilica and are forced into the desert from a cunning plot conceived by Gaballufix. Volemak urges his four sons to go back to Basilica and retrieve the Index (a tool or index used to retrieve information from the Oversoul). Later Nafai confronts Gaballufix and cuts off his head under the bidding of the Oversoul. Gaballufix
: Elemak's oldest brother, son of Hosni by Zdedhnoi, and father of Sevet and Kokor by Rasa. He attempts to ally Basilica with Potokgavan against the Gorayni (also known as the Wetheads). More importantly, he tries to draw the city into a war that goes beyond the Oversoul's (failing) mental blocks, and destroy its traditional female-dominated structure with the help of holographically-disguised soldiers that roam the streets. He sets up a plot to kill Volemak, who opposes him; after Volemak and his sons retreat to the desert, they realize that they need the Index, which is in Gaballufix's possession. He is eventually killed by Nafai, who will agonize over this choice and never really forgive himself for it. Rashgallavik
: Steward to the Wetchik fortune. After Volemak embarks on a series of seemingly ill-advised actions, Rashgallavik takes control of the money. Though his intentions (to protect the Wetchik's funds, as per his job) are originally good, he is overwhelmed by his own power after first becoming the Wetchik himself and then taking over Gaballufix's position. His tenuous hold over Gaballufix's guards is broken by Hushidh. Hosni
: Volemak's "auntie" (a woman assigned to a boy as he hits puberty, to teach him about sex through example) and, by him, the mother of Elemak. She is also the mother of Gaballufix by Zdedhnoi
, who is never mentioned within the series itself, only referenced in genealogy
charts. Other children of Hosni's by several different (anonymous) men, whose appearance is also limited to genealogy charts, are Psugal
, and Okhai
: One of the three most influential men in Basilica, along with Volemak and Gaballufix. Gaballufix plots to have Roptat and Volemak killed, and frame Elemak for the crime.