Friday, October 5, 2012

Ender's Shadow

by Orson Scott Card

Grade: 4 stars (maybe 4 1/2?)
Story summary: Basically Ender's Game from Bean's point of view. The book starts with Bean's background, goes on to his life in Battle School, and ends with the same climax as Ender's Game. If you haven't read Ender's Game, you should. And I don't want to spoil both books by describing it in too much detail. Suffice it to say that Ender was on my list of Top Ten (Or So): Evil Child Geniuses (despite being not exactly evil), and that Bean has certain significant similarities to Ender.
Also see the sequels: Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant.

Thoughts: Stories about super-intelligent prodigies--I love 'em. Also stories about people who get people, and know how to use this knowledge/intuition. Also stories with battles (albeit non-killing ones). Also stories about a group of random people who become close through adventures/trials/something really difficult.

Buuuuut...I still like Ender better and I still like Ender's Game better. The comparison is inevitable--I suppose that's to be expected. When first reading Ender's Game, everything is new and exciting and surprising. Ender's Shadow is not quite so surprising. In fact, Bean figures out basically everything so far ahead of time that plot events wouldn't be too surprising even if you had read Ender's Game.

Although this book had one attribute that not only was not found in Ender's Game, but is not found in many other books either: a Catholic nun who is good and orthodox, but also definitely not perfect. So yay! for rarely seen not-too-clichéd Catholics in literature!

So now all I have to decide is whether to read the Ender sequels or the Bean sequels or no sequels at all. I believe in the Ender sequels he goes off on his own hundreds of years in the future (due to the time weirdness of space travel), while the Bean/Shadow books take place on Earth, are more about politics, and feature many of the other children from Battle School. That sounds more promising to me, even though I like Ender better than Bean. But then I've heard from some sources that Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow are the only ones that are any good at all. EDIT: As you can see by the links after the story summary, I decided to read the Shadow series. And I think it was definitely worth it. The geo-political maneuverings were pretty cool, and I loved Peter Wiggin's development.


Aquinas' Goose said...

I haven't finished the Ender series, but I read all but the last one; enjoyed the second one (and made the exceedingly foolish mistake of loaning it out...). The books are more difficult, they are more theoretical and delve more into philosophy and philosophic / theological issues than Ender's Game It's far more heavier reading.

RED said...

Huh. Well, I'll try them out sometime I feel like something a bit heavier. You haven't read any of the Shadow sequels, presumably?

Aquinas' Goose said...

You would presume correctly (that took way too long for me to answer, mea culpa). I also have yet to finish the Ender series, too.

RED said...

Haha, well it's pretty cool that you answered at all.
And even after 4 years, I still haven't read the Ender's sequels. On my list, though! My brother recommends them highly (or at least the first couple), so I'd really like to get to them at some point.