Orson Scott Card, Shadow of the Giant

Posted June 11, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

Shadow of the Giant (Shadow, #4)Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
Series: Shadow, 4
            Ender’s Saga, 9
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fourth in the Shadow sci-fi series and ninth in the overall Ender’s Saga science fiction series and focuses on Bean and Petra and their desperate need to find all their children.

It’s actual sequel is Shadows in Flight (Shadow, 5; Ender’s Saga, 12).

My Take
It’s been so long since I read the start of this series and Shadow of the Giant has spurred me on to begin again. I remember when the first novel, Ender’s Game, first came out. Fascinating. Too, too fascinating. And somehow, I got off track. I would seriously recommend reading from the start before beginning this story. I felt off-balance throughout the story since so much of the crucial moments leading up to this were made known earlier. I suspect that, perhaps, part of my confusion?, frustration?, was due to Card’s writing style. I do not remember why Petra is so antagonistic?!

I’m glad that Card kept reminding us that Bean is only 16 with his nine children. He has such an adult manner in the story. Reasonable, since Bean was a child when he helped Ender end the war.

Dang, this story will just make you want to cry!

A wishful “mandate of heaven” (to borrow from Han Tzu) in which Peter’s plan is to persuade every country in the world to join his idea of a united world. We watch its progress through the actions of each of the Jeesh as they maneuver with control over their native countries.

Randi is going to get a nasty surprise one day when she learns the truth about little Achilles Flandres, Jr. Card has an interesting assessment of Peter and what it takes to be Hegemon. Sadly, I suspect it’s very accurate. And I doubt his like comes often.

Petra cracks me up with her address to Bean that starts with “O Father of the Balloon I’m Carrying Around Inside My Abdomen”. Rackham made a comment when he made the offer to the Jeesh that made me laugh at first, and then made me cry: “If you hadn’t spent your entire childhood playing war games, you’d actually know something. You’re all so uneducated”. I like Peter’s comments about America and how it’s shaping his own Constitution for the FPE as well…gives me some hope!

Oh, brother, the divorces in this story…one is good and the other…I just keep crying. Oh, I know Bean was right to do it as he did, but, still… The remarriage is not one that I expected. At all. Then there’s Peter’s last request of Ender. A nice little wrap-up of this story.

The Story
It begins with an intimate perspective on the troubles that are facing the members of Ender’s Jeesh when Han Tzu receives an offer and the backup in case he rejects that offer.

We visit each Battle School graduate alternating with Bean and Petra’s search for their in vitro children. It’s a natural inclination to want your children around you and not scattered to the winds. But Bean’s illness has made the search even more imperative. Graff and Rackham have made Bean an offer that may save the lives of those children who have inherited Bean’s problem and Bean’s approaching death makes it even more necessary to find the affected ones NOW.

Alai is brought to realize the extent of his power and his actions to change this only lead to reality even as he brings down those who oppose him, but it’s Alai’s marriage that is the death knell.

And still, Bean, is giving his all to help Peter in his project. His plan to unite the earth, the Free People of the Earth (FPE) while a new pair of essayists are at work swaying world opinion: Lincoln and Martel.

The Characters
Peter Wiggins, Ender’s older brother, is the Hegemon while Ender and Valentine have been exiled. Theresa Wiggins is his mother and revolving around Peter, missing Ender. Members of Ender’s Jeesh are all here: Han Tzu (Hot Soup) is almost persona non grata in China; Julian Delphiki (Bean); Petra Arkanian Delphiki is pregnant; Alai is now Caliph of the Muslims, but experiencing all the issues of member Muslim countries; Suriyawong is back in Thailand coping with defeat and occupation; Vlad is useless in Russia; Carn Carby is in Australia; Dink Meeker and Crazy Tom in England; Shen in Tokyo; Fly Molo in Manila; and, Dumper in South America.

While not a member of the Jeesh, Virlomi is now the acting goddess of India and using publicity beautifully to cause her fellowmen to rise up against the invading Muslims. Felix Starman is the prime minister of Rwanda. Anton has come back out of retirement to help Bean.

Mazer Rackham, a hero several times over, is back with International Fleet (I.F.) and manipulating politics. Again. With Colonel Hyrum Graff. These two are master manipulators and you won’t see how very cleverly until the end.

Snow Tiger is the leader currently ruling in China. Ivan Lankowski is Alai’s friend in Damascus.

Volescu is Bean’s half-uncle and a bit of a mad scientist with no ethics who infected and disseminated the children. Ferreira is trying to track down everything Volescu did. The children affected with Anton’s Key are Ender, Carlotta, and Cincinnatus; the normal children are Andrew, Bella, Ramón, Julian, and Petra.

The Cover
The cover is prophetic with Bean and Petra standing within a circle of buildings looking out at the starscape where he’s about to be exiled.

I suspect the title is about how Bean used his brilliant mind to aid Ender in his aims within Ender’s shadow, the shadow that Bean casts over all that he has accomplished on our world, the Shadow of the Giant.

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