Shadow of the Giant (Ender)
by Orson Scott Card
Review by Sam Lubell
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0312857586
Date: 01 March, 2005 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
In Shadow Of The Giant, the world that splintered after the defeat of the Buggers begins to become unified. The members of Ender?s army are no longer puppets but have begun to take control of China, a unified Middle East, and India. But the military sees them as a threat to their goal of a unified world under Peter the Hegemon, brother of Ender the savior of Earth. And their talents could be better used in space, each running their own colony. Meanwhile Bean, once the smallest of Ender?s army, has grown enormous, the Giant of the title. Earlier in the series, he discovered that he was the product of genetic manipulation and that his altered genes are destroying him. His only hope is to use the time dilation effect of space travel to journey into the future in the hopes that someone will create a cure. But before he does that, he must use his military talents to help Peter make his position as Hegemon mean something again. He also wants to find his missing embryos, stolen in the previous book, that also have his special genetic code. His wife, Petra, has assumed Valentine?s role as Speaker, hating Peter even as she writes essays designed to help him gain power.
Card?s style in these books resembles Asimov?s, seemingly plain on the surface but in a way that is difficult to pull off consistently. The book moves beyond the main characters of Bean, Peter, and Petra to show the other members of Ender?s army as they face their own power struggles, making for interesting contrasts. The characterization seems a bit higher, with the fate of Virlomi being of special interest as she begins to believe those who think her a goddess. The tragedy of Bean, dying of the same genes that make him such a genius, give the book more weight. There?s also a nice setup for the other books when Bean gives Graff the idea of letting the fantasy game that will become Jane invest Ender?s money so Peter can?t use it.
Obviously, the eighth book in the series (fifth by internal chronology) is not the place for new readers to begin reading. Knowing this, Card wisely jumped right in without providing a recap, although he does provide a few cues to remind readers who read the other books a while ago. Readers should start with Ender?s Game, now available in a YA edition and frequently taught in schools and Speaker For The Dead, and then decide which one they like better. Readers who prefer the first book should go to Ender?s Shadow and then see if they want to follow Bean and Ender?s army?s adventures on Earth or continue with Ender?s future in Xenocide and Children of the Mind. But, according to rumors, Card is planning on tying both strands of the series back together and some of Shadow Of The Giant is clearly designed as set-up for this unification.