Ender’s Shadow

Ok, the first thing to say about this book is that it is a parallel novel to Ender’s Game.  The book covers essentially the same time period as Ender’s Game, but is told from Bean’s point of view.  Although Card says in the intro to this book that you can read this one without having read Ender’s Game, I would still suggest you read that one first.  Also, in this review, I’m going to assume that you have already read Ender’s Game, so there will be some spoilers for the overall story.  If you haven’t already read Ender’s Game, it’s a fantastic book and I highly recommend it.  I don’t have a review of it up on my blog because I read it before I started this, but the book is fantastic.

Book Stats

467 pages

Science Fiction

This book is the fifth book written in the Ender series, but it is a parallel to the first book, you can read this one by itself, but I would recommend that you read the first book before this one.  Books 2-4 don’t impact this book in any way.

Characters

Most of the same characters from Ender’s Game are also in this one, the main difference is that Bean is the main character of this book.  Bean was a really interesting character to read about, and as you go through the novel you learn some very interesting things about why he is as smart as he is.  But that part is one spoiler that I don’t recall being covered in Ender’s Game, so I won’t give it away here either.  The book starts when Bean is about 4 years old and barely living on the streets in Rotterdam.  It’s interesting to see how even as a very small child he is incredibly intelligent and how he is in some ways resented for his intelligence.  He learns quickly that in some ways it’s best for him to give subtle hints and suggestions rather than to outright tell people what they should be doing.  Once he actually gets to Battle School he absorbs information like it’s going to be gone the next day if he doesn’t memorize it now.  He is a loner who sets his goals and then goes towards them.  Bean in an interesting character to read about.

Setting

The streets of Rotterdam, and then Battle School, the same as in Ender’s Game.

Plot

Much like Ender’s Game has the intertwining plots of Ender growing up in Battle School and his siblings acting as Locke and Demosthenes, this book also has two intertwining plots for most of it.  The first plot is watching Bean grow up and go through Battle School following in Ender’s footsteps as a brilliant tactician.  The second story that is unique to this book is watching Sister Carlota (the nun who found Bean on the streets) try to find information about Bean’s past and his parents.  Both stories were interesting to follow and it was fun to learn about where Bean came from.

Enjoyment

This book is just as good as Ender’s Game and the rest of the books in the series.  However, I have a couple of small issues.  The first is the age of the children.  At the end of the book, Bean is 7 years old and Ender is I think 10 years old.  I would have been easier and much more believable to make them a little older, even 14 and 17 would be better than 7 and 10.  Regardless of how smart they are, a 10 year old is not going to have the capability to do what Ender does, and there is no way a 7 year old could ever do what Bean does.  It’s a slight knock against the story, but one that is easily overlooked.  The other main issue that I had with the book came from having already read Ender’s Game.  We know that Ender was chosen as the one person who would be able to save Earth.  In this book I kept looking for the reason why Bean wouldn’t have been able to defeat the Buggers, and I don’t think it was ever really there.  In writing it I think Card started to realize this as well, there’s a line at the very end of the book (during the last battle with the Buggers) where Bean says he would have no idea of what to do, just before Ender attacks the planet with the Dr. Device.

Overall Grade

A wonderful companion to Ender’s Game.  I highly suggest it, but read Ender’s Game first.

9/10

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5 Comments

  1. I enjoyed Ender’s Game and have Ender’s Shadow on my to read list. I’ll get there eventually!

    It was hard for me to deal with the ages sometimes, too. But if I recall correctly, in Ender’s Game they mention that these kids are bred for this sort of thing. Again, if I remember correctly, most families are only allowed 2 children, but Ender’s family was able to have a third to try once more to get someone into the Battle school (I think, I’m kind of fuzzy on the details). Remember his brother despised him? In any case, the age is kind of explained in the novel, so that we wouldn’t think that children this young couldn’t do the things they did (doesn’t necessarily mean we didn’t age them in our own minds, though!)

    After reading your review, I’m definitely interested in moving Ender’s Shadow up on my to read list.

    Reply
    • Ender’s parents were allowed to have a third child because their first two kids were very close to being the commander they were looking for, but Peter was too cruel and Valentine was too nice.

      The easiest way to counteract the act problem for me would have been to have them spend more time in Battle School. If a person is 14 and has been living a military lifestyle since they were 6, they wouldn’t question the adults because they had been raised that way. I think that overall the story would have worked better had they been older, but it’s a very minor complaint about an excellent book.

      Reply
      • Right, Ender was supposed to be the perfect balance between the two.

        You’re right, the age is interesting though, because why are the children so young? Perhaps because young children don’t tend to question adult authority?

        And again, I agree, a minor complaint; the book was fantastic! I think I read it in about 2 days. 🙂

  2. Thanks for this review. Ender’s Shadow goes into my ever-lengthening book queue.

    Reply
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