SHADOW OF THE GIANT
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
The ending of Orson Scott Card's Shadow Puppets did not bring the series to a successful conclusion, leaving it well open for addition stories. Three years on, Card has provided that continuation in Shadow of the Giant. This novel continues to follow the adventures of Bean and Petra Arkanian who were first introduced as part of Ender's jeesh in Ender's Game as they try to bring peace to the world, find their missing children, and help Peter Wiggin establish himself as the Hegemon of Earth.
The global politics in Shadow of the Giant focus on the Caliphate of Alai, another member of Ender's jeesh, the Chinese empire of Han Tzu, still another one of Ender's warriors, and Virlomi's India. While Virlomi was at Battle School, she wasn't part of Ender's team. Although the stories of their rule and conflicts with each other forms the macropolitical background to the more personal story of Bean and Petra, Card uses their story to examine how power alters the powerful.
All three rulers find themselves in positions where their followers view them as divinely inspired at the least, however their responses are very different at every step of the way. Each must decide if they will use their authority to lead their people in a manner dictated by their own conscience or if they will allow their people's expectations to determine the path they are to take. Each takes a different road, not entirely of his or her own making, but all of which form interesting undercurrents throughout the book.
Of course, the main power broker in the book is Peter Wiggin, the Hegemon. Although his position doesn't have all the power Peter would like it to have, it is clear from what Card has written in Speaker for the Dead and subsequent books that the Hegemon would eventually gain power over all of earth. The question raised in Shadow of the Giant, therefore, isn't if Peter will succeed, but rather how he'll succeed and how much damage his success will entail.
With all the political mechanizations going on in Shadow of the Giant, it would have been easy for any human connection to have gotten lost. Fortunately, that doesn't happen. Card not only focuses on the story of Bean and Petra and their quest to discover the embryos stolen from them by Achilles and Volescu in the earlier volume, but he also manages to bring life to his political leaders as they try to gain and keep power while working for their constituencies.
Even as Card manages to wrap up many of the threads of Bean's story in Shadow of the Giant, he also leaves open hints of future tales, either among the colonies set up by survivors of the Bugger War or by the child who is born and raised to believe it is Achilles Flanders's offspring, but who may very well be the son of Bean and Petra. Whether or not those stories are eventually told, Shadow of the Giant forms a conclusion to the story begun in Ender's Shadow.
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