is being dubbed as a parallel novel to Orson Scott Card's Hugo
Award-winning Ender's Game
. By "parallel," Card means that Shadow
begins and ends at roughly the same time as Game
, and it chronicles many of the same events. In fact, the two books tell an almost identical story of brilliant children being trained in the orbiting Battle School to lead humanity's fleets in the final war against alien invaders known as the Buggers. The most brilliant of these young recruits is Ender Wiggin, an unparalleled commander and tactician who can surely defeat the Buggers if only he can overcome his own inner turmoil.
Second among the children is Bean, who becomes Ender's lieutenant despite the fact that he is the smallest and youngest of the Battle School students. Bean is the central character of Shadow, and we pick up his story when he is just a 2-year-old starving on the streets of a future Rotterdam that has become a hell on earth. Bean is unnaturally intelligent for his age, which is the only thing that allows him to escape--though not unscathed--the streets and eventually end up in Battle School. Despite his brilliance, however, Bean is doomed to live his life as an also-ran to the more famous and in many ways more brilliant Ender. Nonetheless, Bean learns things that Ender cannot or will not understand, and it falls to this once pathetic street urchin to carry the weight of a terrible burden that Ender must not be allowed to know.
Although it may seem like Shadow is merely an attempt by Card to cash in on the success of his justly famous Ender's Game, that suspicion will dissipate once you turn the first few pages of this engrossing novel. It's clear that Bean has a story worth telling, and that Card (who started the project with a cowriter but later decided he wanted it all to himself) is driven to tell it. And though much of Ender's Game hinges on a surprise ending that Card fans are likely well acquainted with, Shadow manages to capitalize on that same surprise and even turn the table on readers. In the end, it seems a shame that Shadow, like Bean himself, will forever be eclipsed by the myth of Ender, because this is a novel that can easily stand on its own. Luckily for readers, Card has left plenty of room for a sequel, so we may well be seeing more of Bean in the near future. --Craig E. Engler
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
You can't step into the same river twice, but Card has gracefully dipped twice into the same inkwellAonce for Ender's Game and again for this stand-alone "parallel novel." The course readers will follow this time is of the superhuman child Bean. Raised on streets ruled by starving children's gangs, he was too weak, at age four, to hold peanuts in his hand, but ingenious enough to trick the other children into civilizing themselvesAand to keep himself alive. When his genius and uncanny understanding of individuals' motivations are discovered, he is sent to Battle School, where children learn to command fleets for the war with the alien BuggersAthe smallest kid ever to do so. Bean is not as perfect as Ender WigginAhero of the Ender Quartet, begun with Ender's Game and concluded with Children of the MindAbut he becomes Ender's ally. Though Bean is cold at first, the kind of child who weighs the costs of hugging the nun who saved him from the streets, he wants to understand the respect and love that Ender wields. Thus, Bean's story is twofold: he learns to be a soldier, and to be human. Devotees of the Ender saga will delight in the revelations about the formation of Ender's Dragon army and about the last of Ender's games. Though newcomers to the series may miss many of the novel's points, the wonders of Battle School and flashsuits and children's armies should keep them turning pages. As always, everyone will be struck by the power of Card's children, always more and less than human, perfect yet struggling, tragic yet hopeful, wondrous and strange. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to the