Sarah's Reviews > Shadow of the Hegemon

Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
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Oct 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: ender, sci-fi, teen, novel
Read in October, 2006

** spoiler alert ** Card's second installment in the story of Bean begins with situations and focuses on individuals not too surprising to readers of Ender's Shadow. Unlike Speaker For the Dead, Bean's sequel is much more similar to it's predecessor. In essence, Battle School moves to Earth and of course Battle School's most intelligent student plays a major role in the ensuing chaos.

While Bean is able to spend some time getting to know his family, an international crisis requires them all to go into hiding and Bean to put his superhuman brain to work figuring out how to save the day. As is hinted in Ender's Shadow, Bean eventually seeks out Peter Wiggin and has to struggle with whether he is any better than Achilles.

Another thing that didn't totally surprise me was the big role Petra played in this book. I wanted to learn more about Petra ever since Ender's Game, but after she became friends with Bean at the end of Ender's Shadow, I somehow assumed that that relationship would be an excuse to explore her personality more in this book. I was smugly satisfied when events demonstrated how Petra, while not the same level of genius as Ender or Bean, was clearly more intelligent than the other members of Ender's crew. The thing that's always so satisfying about reading these books about extremely gifted children is that by following their internal monologues and how they easily solve problems that challenge others, it makes me as a reader feel like I'm smarter too. Maybe it comes from being labeled as smart kid growing up. Or maybe with the intellectual beating I get in grad school, I'm looking for any sort of confirmation that I'm smart too. Since I can follow along with Bean or Petra or Peter's train of thought, then I must be smart too.

Ah yes, and then there's the Hegemon himself. If you've read Ender's Game, then you know that Peter Wiggin becomes Hegemon eventually. This book fills in more of the details about how that actually happened. After some of the hints dropped in the other Ender books & Bean's realization in Ender's Shadow that Peter is his best bet for a powerful ally, I also assumed that we'd finally get a better look at Peter in this book. We see that the monster of Ender's childhood has transformed into someone more likely to be the subject of Ender's classic work The Hegemon, and Bean finds out one possibility why. We get to hear a little bit of Peter's internal monologue, but this book is primarily about Bean's unfinished business and the large role Petra unintentionally plays in it.

I thought that I'd want to get into Peter Wiggin's head more in subsequent books, but since most of the important things we learn about him are from other people, it strikes me that Peter is not terribly self-aware (despite how arrogant and selfish he is) & therefore not very interesting to me. It's amazing how much more Bean knows about Peter by the end of the book than Peter knows about himself. Maybe if he discovers this information he'd be a little interesting, but right now he's still a pretty one-dimensional character. It seems like now that he's not scary, he's not interesting.

Speaking of scary, I bet you all guessed that Achilles escape from the mental hospital at the end of Ender's Shadow would mean he'd play a big role in this book. Even though Achilles is so one-sided, he's fascinating partly because his one facet is expressed in such a not-socially-acceptable way & also because he's so diabolically clever in trying to achieve his one aim - total domination. Holy crap, Achille scares the crap out of me, but I don't really know what to say about that without giving away any more plot details than I already have.

The history/politics nut in me absolutely loved this book. Card's afterword talks about how his childhood obsession with the game Risk, played a major role in the creation of this book. It reminded me how we used to sit around in my Contemporary History class in high school talking about all the complex (and not so complex) sets of moves that led to, carried out, and eventually ended WWII. Anyone who finds such discussions fascinating should definitely check out Shadow of the Hegemon.
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