Shadow of the Hegemon, by Orson Scott Card

shadow-of-the-hegemon-by-orson-scott-card coverGenre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Published: 2001
Reviewer Rating: three and a half stars
Book Review by Lynn Nicole Louis

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Shadow of the Hegemon is the second in the Shadow series; sequel to Ender’s Shadow and prequel to Shadow Puppets. In the overall scheme of the entire Ender series, it numbers six. I read somewhere that there are two more books planned. This novel is the continuation of the story of Bean, one of the Battle School children who helped Ender win the Formic war.

While Ender departs the solar system bound for a far-off colony, Bean and the Battle School kids have returned to Earth and their families. Although they are still children in age, they most certainly are not in attitude and experience. They are also valuable resource, widely considered to be the most brilliant military leaders and strategists in the world. This makes them highly desirable pawns in the game of world politics, so much so that it’s not long after they return that they are kidnapped.

Only Bean remains at large and it’s up to him to foil the plot of the kidnapped and the nations the kidnapper is using to achieve his own ends. In order to do this, he again find himself in a supporting role, this time to Peter Wiggin, Ender’s Brother, and the individual destined to be Hegemon.

The main players are Bean, Achilles, Peter and Petra (and a few other Battle School children in lesser roles). The book centers around how they use their gifts (and have their gifts used by others) in a struggle for world domination. The events here are write large and where sometimes unconvincing, but the focus of the book is not military or political detail but the characters themselves.

Card’s point, I think, is to illustrate how the desires and motivations of a few key people can alter circumstances for everyone. With that goal, he is successful. It’s not too difficult to take Card’s lesson here and apply it to the current world political landscape, where the current events are being driven by only a handful of people in power.

Anyone who’s read any of the Ender books, will immediately recognize the formula: brilliant, tragic children (who really aren’t children any more) with the fate of the world on their shoulders. It’s familiar, but it works and works well.

I enjoyed Shadow of the Hegemon, though not quite as much as Ender’s Game or Ender’s Shadow. Compared to the majority of science fiction out there, this one stands out. If you’ve read and enjoyed any of the other Ender books, you’re sure to enjoy this one. If you’ve never read any of the Ender series, reading the other books first (Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow at a minimum) would make this a more enjoyable book.

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