December 2000 Issue
Review by Jennifer A. Hall
Orson Scott Card, Shadow of the Hegemon (Tor 0-312-87651-3, $25.95, 366 pp,
hc) January 2001. Cover by Lisa Falkenstern.
Bean comes out mostly, though not entirely, from Ender's shadow in this
fast-paced, stand-alone sequel to Ender's Shadow, which picks up a year later
after the Battle School kids have all been returned to Earth.
Petra and the other kids who were in Ender's "jeesh" at Command School
and wiped out the Buggers in the Formic War, have all been kidnapped -- except
for Ender, who is in space on his way to another planet, and Bean, who has been
targeted for death by the kidnapper. Bean immediately sets his superior,
genetically-engineered intellect to the task of locating his friends and figuring out
who the enemy is and why he prefers to have Bean dead than as a hostage. Card
effectively strings us along, with complex plot developments and twist after twist
of betrayed loyalties and political alignments, forcing Bean to outthink his former
Battle School mates if he is going to stay alive and rescue Petra.
Information from the previous book is deftly woven in, Ender is often
invoked, but never seen, though his brother Peter is a key player. Sister Carlotta
and Graff return, and familiar characters from Battle School abound. As usual,
Card gets in plenty of religious reasoning through a prominent character, kept at
an acceptable distance by a main character who is portrayed as a skeptic.
Noticeably absent are any historical events between Earth 2000 and Bean's,
centuries in the future; all the history mentioned is pre-2000, with emphasis on
World War II. To be sure, old rivalries endure for millennia, so that it is plausible
for old enemies such as Russia and China, India and Pakistan, to still be at odds.
But some reference to events between current day Earth and Bean's Earth of the
future would help fill in the noticeably empty gap between our time and his.
Shadow of the Hegemon is chock-full of conspiracies, military and
political maneuvering, and more foreign locations than a James Bond movie.
Questions introduced about Bean's estimated life span in the previous book are
again raised, but still not resolved, foreshadowing another sequel.