Monday, September 14, 2015

Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Hegemon: A Book Review

Shadow of the Hegemon picks up on earth not long after the events of both Ender’s Shadow and Ender’s Game have come to a conclusion. This text follows Bean as he quests to find a place in this new world, but more specifically as he quests to better his arch nemesis Achilles, who has escaped from a mental institution and enamored world power Russia, and save his battle school comrades from the villain’s clutches before Achilles can take over the world. Further, Bean feels the constant pursuit of father time, for his life will end at only twenty or so years as his genetic anomaly takes over.

Playing out like a game of risk, the novel starts with a literal bang as Bean’s vacation home is bombed, and transforms into Bean’s almost inexplicable devotion to Petra, the only member of Ender’s jeesh to remain in Achilles’ clutches after escape attempts and releases. Unlink the other stories of the series, the novel is more of a spy novel, tackling espionage and world domination within the power vacuum the defeat of the Formics has created. Here world powers, no longer fearing for humanity’s existence, spring out on to the world’s stage, claiming battle school graduates as their strategists and seeking to renew age old struggles. At the outside, we see Peter Wiggin, who makes the moves to become the center of world power by occupying a position with none and seeking to establish the job’s relevance. To this plot line, that of rise of Peter, one almost wants more, to see the cogs and gears, to see what the one remaining Wiggin child can do.

While the novel’s pages turn, like the two books that will follow in the series, the story plays out for too long. There is only so much internal moaning and groaning of Bean that one needs. He is talented, interesting, and soon to be a giant, but the what happens after the war for humanity story is more political football than science fiction fodder. That is not to say that one cannot garner pleasure, but that Orson Scott Card could have condensed this tale and returned to chasing the stars, to settling the future.

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