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Locus
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.


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