Throughout this book, you always have a pretty good idea what's going to happen next, but it is still an enjoyable read and doesn't seem repetitive. Card does a very nice job of fleshing out Bean as a character. I particularly liked the early scenes in Rotterdam (away from Ender's influence), where we can see Bean developing a distrustful, look-out-for-number-one attitude. With this background, it makes perfect sense that Bean would be more suspicious of his teachers than Ender ever was. Bean's later transition to a person who is capable of feeling real friendship and loyalty is effective and believable. There are some additional scenes apart from Ender later in the book, but those seem primarily geared toward setting up the sequel, Shadow of the Hegemon.
The scenes with Bean and Ender together are not as satisfying to me. Card is very clever about changing the meaning of lines repeated verbatim from Ender's Game, but to me that only takes away some of the luster from the earlier book. Ender was supposed to be a remarkable genius, now through Bean's eyes we see him repeatedly making mistakes. Bean was supposed to be a smart-aleck who quickly became devoted to Ender, now we find out we just misunderstood most of his lines. I would just as soon not have known that.(Since I wrote this review, Card has released three more books following Bean, his fellow Battle School graduates, and Ender's brother Peter, Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant. Click on the links below to see what I thought of those.)
What do you think? Comments are welcome!
Please send them to:
Copyright © 1999 Aaron Hughes
Tor science fiction 1999 hardback cover