And since I had to activly go looking for them in the Narnia books you can all assume that I totally missed them in LoTR. (grins)
I drove my English teachers nuts. I hated Wuthering Heights, which of course was the book that we spent an entire semester on because it was going to appear on the AP exam that year. My first essay argued that it did not deserve to be labeled a classic because it was a painful read and who cares about the great literary devices when it feels like you are in the middle of surgery finishing the book.
I failed the essay, Wuthering Heights was my teachers favorite book, but ended up getting an A in the class.
Reading is enjoyable when the story flows and you end up caring about the characters. I can look at many classics and pick out the metaphors and symbolism and all the wonderful literal devices but many of them seem more focused on those things then writing a good story.
I love Hemingway and Fitzgerald and Dos Passos because they told a great story first. What they did with the language and how they advanced literature is secondary. The Bronte's have always been hard reads for me because the characters are so freaking depressing and the focus seems to be more on style then substance.
So I like Card's work because he tells a great story. If he is finding a way to work in Mormon themes, and I am sure they are there, it is subtle enough that I am missing them. I know enough about the Mormon Church and its practices to be able to catch things when they are obvious and I just have not seen it in his books.
The characters are very well developed. The story and plot lines are excellent. I enjoy them. Well, some more then others. I normally find that I love the first book in a series, enjoy the second book, sigh during the third books, and pretty much am done with thing by the fourth book. The only exception to this pattern has been the Shadow series from Ender's games. While the books are redundant, Bean and Ender's Jesh being threatened by Achilles or someone else, Battle School kids taking over governments and militaries, Bean and his Battle School posse win, Peter is a benevolent dictator whose motives bother Bean but turns out not to be a monster, you can see the characters grow and develop as people. It is fun watching the Battle School kids grow and how the adults from the Battle School are able to manipulate the little geniuses even with them knowing that they are being manipulated.