Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
Hardcover - 384 pages 1 Ed edition (January 2, 2001)
Tor Books; ISBN: 0312876513
Review by David Goldfeder

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Shadow of the Hegemon follows Enderís Shadow as book 2 in this intriguing quadrilogy. Card is retelling the story of his classic book, Enderís Game, in a much expanded form from the viewpoint of Bean, second banana in the original, but elevated to center stage here.

If you're not familiar with the series, it began with Enderís Game, published in 1985, which quickly became one of the "must read" classics of SF. Several centuries from now, Earth is at war with an alien race of insects. After barely surviving the initial attack Earth assembled and launched a retaliatory fleet. Limited to slower then light speeds, generations would pass before the fleet could reach its targets with their unknown defenses.

To command this fleet, Earth has began testing its children for military aptitude and sending the most promising to a special military academy. Ender Wiggin was the ultimate creation of this program. A military genius who as a child leads Earthís Fleet to victory while playing what he thinks are war games, he doesnít find that it was the real thing until after the war is won. Peter Wiggin is Enderís older brother, and the political counterpart to Enderís military genius. All Peter wants to do is rule the world, and in this he is every bit as successful as his brother.

Enderís principal deputy during the war, Bean, is the principal character in this new series. He's Ender's equal as a strategist, Peterís match as apolitical analyst and something else besides. This book is the beginning of Bean's alliance with Peter. The world needs all of their ability. While the Bug War forced Earth to unite, it didnít alleviate the pressures and problems, but merely tied down the relief valve on the pressure cooker. Now that the war is over, the alliance has fractured, war is coming and the likely winners are the great powers, Communist China and Authoritarian Russia. Peter and Bean are trying to create an effective opposition that will spare Earth centuries of war and tyranny.

Card has written an interesting book that suffers from being a middle book in a series. Card doesn't always explain the back-story and details, so it is difficult for someone not familiar with the series, and itís been a while since I read any of the books so I had some trouble getting into the swing of it. Card does make good use of space. With one book becoming four, he has an opportunity to greatly flesh out his world and he deals with some interesting concepts and creates some unique characters.

Parts of it read like Tom Clancy, while others read like Ian Fleming or John LeCarre. The book reads quickly and is well worth the time invested. Knowing the ending forces you to pay attention to the details of the story, because the end has been revealed in the original series. It's the means and motive that Shadow of the Hegemon illuminates.