The Barnes & Noble Review
Fantasy master Orson Scott Card brings us a new installment in his classic Ender saga. Bean, the genetic anomaly who served as second-in-command during the genocidal war against the Formics in Ender's Game, returns in a series of "parallel" novels beginning with Ender's Shadow and continuing with Shadow of the Hegemon, which focus both on Bean's career and on the turbulent, divisive aftermath of the Formic War. Now he's back in another powerful tale.
Shadow Puppets begins when reigning hegemon Peter Wiggin rescues Achilles Flandres, a charismatic psychopath imprisoned in China, foolishly believing he can control Achilles. As Peter comes to terms with his own folly, various interconnected dramas unfold. Bean and his girlfriend, Petra Arkanian, go to ground, convinced that Achilles wants them dead. In India, a young idealist propagates a Gandhi-like act of revolt against the voracious Chinese usurpers. And in Damascus, a clandestine Muslim army arises, preparing -- with the aid of Bean and Petra -- to launch a war of liberation against the overextended Chinese empire.
The result is a sometimes overcrowded narrative in which the fate of nations is once again in the hands of gifted children. Set against this overarching scenario, balancing and humanizing it, is the small, personal story of Bean and Petra, and their obsessive, ultimately dangerous efforts to bear healthy, "normal" children. Card has always been both storyteller and moralist, and his narratives are driven by clearly defined moral imperatives. In Shadow Puppets, he addresses large, fundamental questions concerning loyalty, responsibility, and the importance of humane, ethical standards in our public and private lives. The resulting narrative is quintessential Card: impassioned, argumentative, and difficult to set aside. Bill Sheehan
Card spins another adventure in the Enderverse, following the exploits of Bean, Petra, Peter Wiggin and many of the other Battle School students. Wiggin, the Hegemon of a floundering and fragile union of countries, has freed the sociopath Acheel. While Wiggin realizes the error of his actions, Bean and Petra are on the run to avoid Acheel's overwhelming realm of influence. Though Card's politics and beliefs permeate the narrative, none can deny his masterful storytelling, enhanced by the four narrators. While presenting different points of views and even voices within the story, they at times overlap and still perform well. Each seem to dominate a different perspective of the book. Birney's brittle voice identifies the cold calculating side of Wiggin while also imbuing at times the desperation and frustration of the aspiring world leader. Brick works best with the cool and collected Bean while De Cuir uses her stern lilting voice to embody the lead female characters. Rudnicki's deep, cold voice is the perfect choice for the almost toneless e-mails prefacing each chapter. A Tor Books paperback (Reviews, July 15, 2002). (July)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This fine follow-up to Ender's Shadow features that novel's hero, Bean (now a young man), wrestling with Card's trademark: superbly real moral and ethical dilemmas. In a world between wars, filled with ambitious countries jockeying to carve up their neighbors, the children of Battle School are the strongest asset a nation can possess. The greatest of the children, "Ender" Wiggin, has gone off to colonize a new world. The second best, Bean, is hunted by a young psychopathic genius, Achilles, who schemes to conquer Earth with the aid of Ender's soldiers. Peter, Ender's brother, who was too ruthless to make it to Battle School, also works to rule the planet, but through more peaceful, political means. Bean must decide if becoming Peter's shadow and guiding him to become Hegemon will help defeat Achilles, and if one boy's megalomania will make a better world than another's. Children playing at war as if it were a game recalls Card's most famous work, Ender's Game, which won both a Hugo and a Nebula award. The complexity and serious treatment of the book's young protagonists will attract many sophisticated YA readers, while Card's impeccable prose, fast pacing and political intrigue will appeal to adult fans of spy novels, thrillers and science fiction. (Jan. 2) Forecast: Card is immensely popular; this is one of his best novels. Like Ender's Game, it will soar on genre lists and should flirt with, and perhaps woo, regular lists. Tor will ensure this through a $300,000 ad/promo campaign including a nine-city author tour. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
This book can be read without reading the book right before it, but there are parts where you feel as if you came for the second half of the joke. There were times when I didn't really agree with Card's thinking on the whole political situation and the handling of it. To say the very least, this book was good, although not to the same standard as Ender's Game or Ender's Shadow. It is more mature. The tone evolves as the characters grow up, which is a relief. All the little side plots are enjoyable and tied in neatly at the end. The best part of this book is how all the minor characters gained more depth. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2002, Tor, 352p,
Eman Ashrafi, Teen Reviewer
The sequel to Shadow of the Hegemon, this story picks up with Ender's older brother Peter Wiggin as the Hegemon leader of the world. Trying to limit the influence of the evil Achilles, Peter has him taken out of China only to find that Achilles has leveraged his proximity to Peter and his group to facilitate a coup. Two of Peter's main supporters have to stay in hiding: a growing giant and warrior named Bean, and his love Petra (also the center of attraction to Achilles). Peter seems like a reluctant leader, needing to be nudged by his parents. On the other hand, Bean has a hard time doing nothing. Both act like shadow puppets being pulled by Achilles' invisible strings. This volume does not have the stature of Card's original Ender fantasies. While the characters move around a lot, and find their Battle School friends in new positions, the pacing seems strangely plodding. It's hard to tell the maturity of the characters, and that vagueness does not help the reader understand personality development easily. While the main message supports inclusion and pluralism in terms of politics and religion, violence continues to have its place. (Ender Series, Book 7). KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Tor, 375p., Ages 15 to adult.
Dr. Lesley S.J. Farmer
In the aftermath of the war against the alien insectoid Formics, the people of Earth experienced a period of unity under the benevolent rulership of the Hegemon Peter Wiggin, brother of war hero Ender Wiggin. As the fragile political peace erodes and internal wars threaten to erupt, the child-warriors of the Battle School now young adults skilled in the arts of leadership and politics struggle to bring about a new kind of peace despite the efforts of traitors in their midst. The sequel to Ender's Shadow and Shadow of the Hegemon continues Card's visionary future history with a story of men and women thrust too early into positions of power. The author's thoughtful storytelling and compassionately moral characters make this a good addition to most sf collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-No wonder smart kids love the Ender saga so much: Card's young heroes are not just consistently smarter than adults, they are Masters of the Universe. This sequel to Ender's Shadow (Tor, 1999) finds the wars over, with Ender in self-imposed exile off-planet. The remaining students of Battle School, now young teens, are trying to adjust to their civilian status when they are suddenly abducted-all except Bean, who escapes and goes into hiding with Sister Carlotta, the nun who raised him. Concluding that the mastermind behind the kidnapping is none other than Achilles, a homicidal megalomaniac from his past, Bean forms an uneasy alliance with Peter Wiggin, the most respected political mind in the world. With the help of coded messages from Bean's old friend Petra (now Achilles's prisoner), Bean and Peter close in on the villain, changing the paths of world powers on their way. Fans of the series will continue to overlook the implausibility of whole countries being turned over to teenagers who proclaim to know it all, but might be a bit disappointed in Peter as the good-guy candidate for ruler of the world. Achilles, a sort of evil James Bond, is the more interesting of the two, but that is typical of the moral dilemmas Card suggests to his readers. With two books still to come about Bean, it would be wise to stock up on all Card's books; enthusiasts may want to revisit the earlier stories while waiting for the next installment.-Jan Tarasovic, West Springfield High School, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Card's child-warrior saga (Shadow of the Hegemon, 2001, etc.) goes on . . . and on. The brilliant child-warrior Bean has helped the equally youthful essayist-advisor Peter Wiggin become Hegemon, but it's a title with little power, carrying influence only within enfeebled America and Europe, and the struggle to direct the soul of the world continues. Their adversary, the megalomaniac Achilles, having befriended and betrayed Russia and India in turn, has guided the Chinese to conquer India and Indochina. Now Bean and Peter receive word that the Chinese have lost patience with their psychotic ally and have arrested him. Peter, believing that he can both dominate their foe and learn from him, arranges to capture Achilles-and soon Achilles is pretty much running the Hegemony. Bean, withdrawing from Peter's side, agrees to start a family with his Battle School graduate companion, Petra, stipulating that none of the offspring carry Anton's Key in their genes: the twist that both makes him a genius and dooms him to an early death. Knowing that Achilles will attempt to kill them both, and steal their embryos, Bean seeks refuge with a powerful, friendly Muslim, while Peter's parents endeavor to persuade the stubborn, willful Hegemon that his position is precarious. The usual welter of plotting, maneuvers, repartee, and philosophy. Unfortunately, much of it has the feel of a primer on how to grow up-and Card is much less endearing when he's writing for children rather than about them. $300,000 ad/promo
From the Publisher
“The novels of Orson Scott Card's Ender series are an intriguing combination of action, military and political strategy, elaborate war games and psychology.” USA Today
Read an Excerpt
Bean stood on the grass where two assault choppers were waiting for his men to board. Today the mission was a dangerous one to penetrate Chinese air space and intercept a small convoy transporting a prisoner from Beijing toward the interior. Everything depended on secrecy, surprise, and the extraordinarily accurate information the Hegemon, Peter Wiggin, had been receiving from inside China in the past few months.
Bean wished he knew the source of the intelligence, because his life and the lives of his men depended on it. The accuracy up to now could easily have been a set-up. Even though "Hegemon" was essentially an empty title now, since most of the world's population resided in countries that had withdrawn their recognition of the authority of the office, Peter Wiggin had been using Bean's soldiers well. They were a constant irritant to the newly expansionist China, inserting themselves here and there at exactly the moment most calculated to disrupt the confidence of the Chinese leadership.
The patrol boat that suddenly disappears, the helicopter that goes down, the spy operation that is abruptly rolled up, blinding the Chinese intelligence service in yet another country officially the Chinese hadn't even accused the Hegemon of any involvement in such incidents, but that only meant that they didn't want to give any publicity to the Hegemon, didn't want to boost his reputation or prestige among those who feared China in these years since the conquest of India and Indochina. They almost certainly knew who was the source of their woes.
Indeed, they probably gave Bean's little force the credit for problems that were actually the ordinary accidents of life. The death of the foreign minister of a heart attack in Washington DC only minutes before meeting with the U.S. President they might really think Peter Wiggin's reach was that long, or that he thought the Chinese foreign minister, a party hack, was worth assassinating.
And the fact that a devastating drought was in its second year in India, forcing the Chinese either to buy food on the open market or allow relief workers from Europe and the Americas into the newly captured and still rebellious subcontinent maybe they even imagined that Peter Wiggin could control the monsoon rains.
Bean had no such illusions. Peter Wiggin had all kinds of contacts throughout the world, a collection of informants that was gradually turning into a serious network of spies, but as far as Bean could tell, Peter was still just playing a game. Oh, Peter thought it was real enough, but he had never seen what happened in the real world. He had never seen people die as a result of his orders.
Bean had, and it was not a game.
He heard his men approaching. He knew without looking that they were very close, for even here, in supposedly safe territory an advance staging area in the mountains of Mindanao in the Philippines they moved as silently as possible. But he also knew that he had heard them before they expected him to, for his senses had always been unusually keen. Not the physical sense organs his ears were quite ordinary but the ability of his brain to recognize even the slightest variation from the ambient sound. That's why he raised a hand in greeting to men who were only just emerging from the forest behind him.
He could hear the changes in their breathing sighs, almost-silent chuckles that told him they recognized that he had caught them again. As if it were a grownup game of Mother-May-I, and Bean always seemed to have eyes in the back of his head.
Suriyawong came up beside him as the men filed by in two columns to board the choppers, heavily laden for the mission ahead.
"Sir," said Suriyawong.
That made Bean turn. Suriyawong never called him "sir."
His second-in-command, a Thai only a few years older than Bean, was now half a head shorter. He saluted Bean, and then turned toward the forest he had just come from.
When Bean turned to face the same direction, he saw Peter Wiggin, the Hegemon of Earth, the brother of Ender Wiggin who saved the world from the formic invasion only a few years before Peter Wiggin, the conniver and gamesman. What was he playing at now?
"I hope you aren't insane enough to be coming along on this mission," said Bean.
"What a cheery greeting," said Peter. "That is a gun in your pocket, so I guess you aren't happy to see me."
Bean hated Peter most when Peter tried to banter. So he said nothing. Waited.
"Julian Delphiki, there's been a change of plans," said Peter.
Calling him by his full name, as if he were Bean's father. Well, Bean had a father even if he didn't know he had one until after the war was over, and they told him that Nikolai Delphiki wasn't just his friend, he was his brother. But having a father and mother show up when you're eleven isn't the same as growing up with them. No one had called Bean "Julian Delphiki" when he was little. No one had called him anything at all, until they tauntingly called him Bean on the streets of Rotterdam.