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Ender's Shadow Starscape paperback

Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Tor science fiction - copyright 1999
(cover shown Starscape 2002 edition - 467 pages)

Book read in October 1999

Rating: 6/10  (Recommended)

Review by Aaron Hughes

          Card calls this a "parallel novel" to his hugely successful Ender's Game.  The novel retells the story of Ender's Game, but from the point of view of Bean, one of Ender's friends/lieutenants.  The first few chapters recount Bean's early life struggling to survive in the streets of an impoverished, violent Rotterdam.  By the fifth chapter, however, we're headed to battle school and familiar territory (if you've read Ender's Game, that is, and if you haven't, I urge you to read that first, even though theoretically you don't need to have read Ender's Game to understand this book).

Throughout this book, you always have a pretty good idea what's going to happen next, but it is still an enjoyable read and doesn't seem repetitive.  Card does a very nice job of fleshing out Bean as a character.  I particularly liked the early scenes in Rotterdam (away from Ender's influence), where we can see Bean developing a distrustful, look-out-for-number-one attitude.  With this background, it makes perfect sense that Bean would be more suspicious of his teachers than Ender ever was.  Bean's later transition to a person who is capable of feeling real friendship and loyalty is effective and believable.  There are some additional scenes apart from Ender later in the book, but those seem primarily geared toward setting up the sequel, Shadow of the Hegemon.

The scenes with Bean and Ender together are not as satisfying to me.  Card is very clever about changing the meaning of lines repeated verbatim from Ender's Game, but to me that only takes away some of the luster from the earlier book.  Ender was supposed to be a remarkable genius, now through Bean's eyes we see him repeatedly making mistakes.  Bean was supposed to be a smart-aleck who quickly became devoted to Ender, now we find out we just misunderstood most of his lines.  I would just as soon not have known that.

          (Since I wrote this review, Card has released three more books following Bean, his fellow Battle School graduates, and Ender's brother Peter, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant.  Click on the links below to see what I thought of those.)
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Copyright 1999 Aaron Hughes

Tor science fiction 1999 hardback cover
379 pages
Ender's Shadow hardcover

More Orson Scott Card book reviews on Fantastic Reviews:
Shadow Puppets
Shadow of the Giant
Ender in Exile

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Links to other Orson Scott Card related webpages:
Hatrack River - The Official Web Site of Orson Scott Card
The Ornery American - - Card's political web site
The SF Site Featured Review Ender's Shadow

For information on more science fiction and fantasy books:
Denver Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Club

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