Title: Ender’s Shadow
Author: Orson Scott Card
Publisher: Tor (2000)
Synopsis from Cover: Andrew “Ender” Wiggin was not the only child in the Battle School; he was just the best of the best. Here is the story of another of those precocious generals, the one they called Bean – the one who became Ender’s right hand, his strategist, and his friend.
Bean’s past was a battle just to survive on the streets of Rotterdam. He was a tiny child with a mind leagues beyond anyone else’s. Bean’s desperate struggle, and his remarkable success, brought him to the attention of the Battle School’s recruiters, those people scouring the planet for leaders, tacticians, and generals to save Earth from the threat of alien invasion. Bean was sent into orbit, to the Battle School. And there he met Ender…
All right, if you’ve been following me for a while now, you know that Ender’s Game is one of my all time favorite novels. If you didn’t know that, well, now you know. Maybe one day I’ll write a whole post on that book, but for now I’ll try to stay focused and only talk about Ender’s Shadow. Wish me luck.
Right off the bat, I can tell you that even though Card said in the epilogue to this book that it can be read alone, I disagree with that. Reading Ender’s Game beforehand is almost a necessity, because it explains the Battle School and the Buggers in more detail. Shadow kind of expects you to have a working knowledge already, or at least be able to pick up information quickly or just be okay with half understanding. Maybe you don’t need to know the character of Ender very well, but understanding the society and the Battle School is a must to understand how Bean fits in.
Other than that, I really felt like Card did an excellent job of staying with the Ender storyline, but not making me feel like I was reading the same book over again. (Think of Shadow as the Midnight Sun to Ender’s Twilight – but way, way better.) For the first third of the book, in particular, we followed Bean as he lived on the streets of Rotterdam, learning more about where he came from and who he is and how massively important he was to the Battle School. What we didn’t see in Ender was the full extent of Bean’s intelligence, and how much he really influenced Ender’s path to becoming the commander. I think I need to read Ender’s Game again to mesh this all together (oh, the horror).
Overall, I think I liked Ender’s Game better, but Ender’s Shadow is a close second, and I’ll be searching for the rest of the books in this quartet. The two are like perfect puzzle pieces, bending and molding to the curves of each other and creating one whole image. I highly recommend it – after you’ve read Ender’s Game. Enjoy!