Shadow of the Hegemon

Shadow of the Hegemon is the sixth book in Orson Scott Card’s Ender series.  Chronologically within the series it takes place shortly after Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, but it was the sixth novel published, after Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, and Ender’s Shadow.  Wikipedia has a listing of all of the books in the Enderverse in chronolgical story order, but I’m reading through them in the order in which they were written.

And now we get to the point where I have to make a confession about reading these books.  It seems like I never want to read them.  The books have a tendency to sit on my shelf for quite a while before I get to them, and then I’m still reluctant to start them, even when I’ve decided that they’re going to be the next books that I read.  And I’ve done this with nearly every book in the series, including reading 3 books over two weeks between Xenocide and Children of the Mind, which are really two halves of the same book.  The stupidest part about all of this is that I’ve enjoyed every book.  The lowest score that I’ve given any of the books that I’ve reviewed was a 7 for Xenocide, and that’s mostly because it ends on a cliffhanger because it was half a book.  Every other book I gave a 9/10 (I still don’t have a review up for Ender’s Game, but I’d probably give it a 9/10 as well).  So anyway, that’s enough rambling, I’ll finally get into the review.

Book Stats

442 pages

Science Fiction

Sixth book in the Ender series (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind, Ender’s Shadow, and then this book)

Characters

This book once again has Bean as the main character, which is really fun, I like Bean.  The other primary viewpoint character in the book is Petra Arkanian, who was one of the members of Ender’s “Jeesh” (crew) during the Formic Wars.  The main reason that Card’s books are as good as they are is because of the quality of the characters that he writes.  They’re consistent, intelligent, and always mean well, but they each have their own flaws and Card does a fantastic job of showing how the characters work with and around their flaws.

Setting

Earth several years after the Formic Wars from Ender’s Game.

Plot

After the end of the war against the Buggers, the children from Battle School have become invaluable as military advisors to the various countries of the world.  However, this has also made them targets, especially those who served directly under Ender.  All of Ender’s generals are simultaneously kidnapped, with the exception of Bean.  Bean quickly figures out that Achilles is manipulating the governments of the world to try and assume power over the planet.  So naturally Bean throws in with the one person who is intelligent enough to thwart Achilles’ plans, Peter Wiggin.

Enjoyment

Once again Card tells a very different sort of story within the Ender universe.  This book is far more focused on political machinations and maneuvering than every other book in the series combined.  Personally I don’t care for political discussions much, but in this book Card does it very effectively.  This book is also the first one in the series to address what I think is the biggest weakness of any of the books.  This book directly deals with the fact that the kids are as young as they are (this book says that Petra is 14).  The fact that the children are that young has always been my biggest complaint about the series, but Card addresses part of it in this book.  The children from battle school are given positions as military advisors, but while they can clearly see much of the maneuvering that is going on, they are often ignored by the adults who are still positioned above them.  While I don’t think it’s ever said directly, the adults often have the attitude of “you’ll understand when you’re older,” which is one of the most annoying things to hear in life, and it greatly frustrates the kids in this book, especially Bean who is clearly smarter than pretty much everyone he meets.

Card also did a very interesting thing in writing this book.  He’s telling a story that we already know the end to.  In Ender’s Game he says that Peter went on to be chosen as Hegemon and led Earth to a new level of prosperity.  We already know how it ends, and yet it’s still a compelling book.  He does this by centering the story on Bean and Petra.  Within any overarching story about any time in history, there are always fascinating stories about the people who lived during that time, and in many cases the most interesting stories are those who end up being footnotes in history.  The history books in Ender’s world would talk about how Peter worked to come to power, but the story of Bean working behind him is one well worth telling.

Quote

“Death is not a tragedy to the one who dies.”

-Sister Carlotta

Overall Grade

Another very different story in the Ender series, this one is just as well written as the rest.

8/10

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1 Comment

  1. June 2012 Month in Review « Reviews and Ramblings

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