Ender’s Shadow

 ()

()

Ender was born into a world where children are trained to be the military leaders of tomorrow – and he is destined to be the greatest commander of them all. He was placed in scenarios, games, to test his abilities. He excelled, beating back an invading horde and eventually destroying their home world. Only it isn’t a game. They were real battles, real soldiers, real deaths, a real planet eradicated.

This fact is then revealed to the great child commander, Ender, and to the rest of his command team, comprised of his closest friends. The whole group is shocked. All of them except one, little Bean.

Orson Scott Card’s novel, Ender’s Shadow, is written in a very interesting andexperimental way. Following the basic storyline of his previous Hugo Award winning,

Ender’s Game, Ender’s Shadow is the story of the small but brilliant Bean, Ender’s close friend and essentially, as revealed in this story, his predecessor.

We watch Bean progress from a clever but dependent urchin on the streets of Rotterdam, to becoming the second most effective military commander.

While on the streets of Rotterdam, Bean learns the harsh realities of life. While scraping for food and survival, Bean befriends a street gang leader named Poke. In a scheme that Bean suggested, the gang apprehends an older kid, a “bully”, and barters his life for his loyalty and ability to get into the soup kitchens for food.

Soon gaining their trust, the bully murders Poke and Bean is the only witness. Bean turns to the nuns that run the soup kitchens for protection. It is then that his unmatched intelligence is discovered and he is subsequently enlisted in Battle School.

The story then unfolds to the familiar events portrayed in the previous book, but re-envisioned through the perspective of the miniature mental giant.

This perspective is a very fascinating way to again visit the Battle School. Due to his advanced intellect, many of the events used as plot twists and surprises in the original story, are revealed much earlier in the story. Card makes up for these “spoilers” by giving us all new twists related to Bean and his bizarre past.

The inner monologue of Bean is very complex, and Card uses this as a vehicle to jump forward in the plot, but still adds a lot of thoughtful sequences for the reader to chew on. Just trying to keep up with the speed of the delivery can be a bit exhausting, yet serve to engage the reader in a much greater capacity than your average sci-fi novel, which is a feat in and of itself.

Card pulls out his exceptional and signature storytelling tricks in this one. Humorous, insightful, emotional, gripping and dramatic, Ender’s Shadow has everything a devoted sci-fi geek (fan) could ever ask for.

There are many great moments packed in there which the original could never have included due to the difference of main character’s perspective. Some of the best moments in the book come during Bean’s last few days in Battle School, a period could never have been covered from Ender’s perspective as he is absent for these moments. Some of these moments are battles when Bean is the commander of his own army, and then having to face the bully he escaped in Rotterdam. Other parts focus on the search and discovery, by one of the nuns, of Bean’s true identity.

This is an amazing book and just another chapter in the expansive Ender series. This is Card at his best.