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From Barnes & NobleThe 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