Thursday, February 09, 2012

Book Review: Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card

( #EndersGame )

I finished reading the 2nd book in the “Bean Series” of the “Ender Saga” the other night and I wanted to get my thoughts down before getting too wrapped up in the third book. “Shadow of the Hegemon” takes places a few months after the conclusion of “Ender’s Shadow”. All of the military school graduates (except Ender) are back on Earth and seem to be struggling going back to their “normal lives”.

The villain from the last book, Achilles, somehow gets involved with Russia and starts kidnapping all of the battle school graduates. Ender’s crew become the most sought-after and are either kidnapped, co-opted, or re-kidnapped into serving various nations. Bean, being known as the smartest graduate to return, is targeted for death since Achilles convinces the other nations he won’t work with them. Of course Bean figures this out and gets himself and his family to safety. He knows all of this power-grabbing will start with war and end with a unified world government, but the main plot is what country will take total control. Bean is fairly indifferent, but when his best friend Petra is kidnapped by Achilles and is forced into becoming the main strategist of his plans, Bean establishes opposing forces to save her.

All of the children have issues being accepted by their adult peers after their service in the Formic Wars. Card repeats the scenario of “adult gets in kid’s way, kid finds a way around adult, makes adult look foolish.” This happens with almost every main character several times. Unlike the last book, Card’s politics and preferences leak out in little ways throughout the book. Card’s obsession with Brazil and China are re-established and he makes a few jabs about Kennedy’s presidency. Thematically, this book is very different from “Ender’s Shadow” and “Ender’s Game”, it is more political and spends little time on space and “advanced technology”. Once again, Card leaves plot points on the table to continue the series, even though there was no good reason except to keep the books going (kind of like why Batman never kills the Joker even though he keeps killing thousands of people every time he gets out of jail).

Overall this book was a much better follow-up than “Speaker for the Dead” was for “Ender’s Game”. Card continues his story with familiar characters that you want to read about and manages to keep obvious personal opinions to a minimum.