16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2003
The spectacular Ender's Game and its very good to excellent sequels established Card as a major SF writer. With Ender's Shadow, he came close to matching the brilliance of the original story. Then came Shadow of the Hegemon, with its focus on Peter Wiggin and Achilles, and it seemed like all the power, originality, and dramatic tension faded away, leaving only a shadow to lay across your mind. This latest work is neither as good as Ender's Shadow nor as mundane as Hegemon, but rather somewhere in-between.
Here we find Bean growing beyond the norm, symptomatic of his genetic flaw that will eventually kill him while still a young man. And growing in other ways, as his relationship with Petra finally flowers under her tenacious insistence. This is probably the best part of this novel, as we see sides of the two that have not been in great evidence in the prior works. And we get some small looks into the thoughts and characters of some of the other Battle School graduates, mainly Virlomi, Han Tzu and Alai, each of whom contribute some major items towards Peter and Bean winning their current battle with Achilles. The Wiggin parents emerge from obscurity and are revealed to be (unsurprisingly) very intelligent and (surprisingly) quite forceful. All good things...
So where does this book fail? The main failure is Peter Wiggin himself. For a man who could sway world opinion with his exacting, careful logic as Locke and browbeat everyone into emotional frenzy as Demosthenes, Peter is depicted here as a remarkably stupid, arrogant, and emotional teenager. Achilles, the demon, remains almost totally offstage, providing little room for dramatic confrontations, and what ones there are come off as almost anti-climatic. And finally, the circumstance that draws Bean back into the struggle between Peter and Achilles was totally preventable, a very sad and uncharacteristic lack of foresight by both Bean and Petra. These items do much to kill any major excitement in this work, even though the major (world) battle could have formed a taught political and military thriller.
Is this book readable? Certainly. Card is still an excellent writer. His prose, descriptions, and dialogue (especially the back-and-forth between Bean and Petra) are all well formed and his moral insights flow from the premise of the story. But this one just doesn't have the edge-of-the-seat tension, the incredible insight into human character that have been the hallmarks of his best work.
--- Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hyperpat)
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2002
This latest installment of Orson Scott Card's Shadow trilogy delivers. Set after Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow, Bean, one of Ender's generals and friend has now found himself helping Peter Wiggin, Ender's older brother, as Peter tries to revive the office of Hegemon and keep Earth from falling into an all-out war. Bean's nemesis, Achilles, is also back and bent on finding and killing Bean. The action continues as Bean and Petra mature in their personal relationship and Achilles intervenes. Without revealing too much else about the story, Bean must yet again use his superior intellect in order to thwart Achille's attempts to rule Earth while aiding Peter Wiggin (who may not be as smart as he thought he was). Ender's parents also receive some of the spotlight, adding some depth to their characters. Card's continued use of child geniuses in a post-war setting lives up to the standard set by Ender's Game. I found this novel had more depth than Shadow of the Hegemon. While it is not Ender's Game or Ender's Shadow, it is sure to please fans who enjoy those novels over the Speaker trilogy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2006
Ender's Shadow was a brilliant book. Shadow of the Hegemon was good, but not at par with any of the other Ender books. Shadow Puppets is nothing less than a complete let-down. It is a pity that Card has allowed his job to fall that low, and I hope that he will not make this mistake again. I only give it one star because I cannot give none.
I really cannot find one reason to make me propose this book to other readers, even Ender fans, except "if you are dying from curiosity to see what life holds for Bean". Oh, and possibly the brilliance of two secondary characters, Virlomi and Alai.
On the contrary, I can find many reasons why to avoid it. Let's start:
* The characters are completely off, compared to the other novels. Peter, the Hegemon, is reduced to a clever teenager who, however, can't do anything without the support of either Bean or, from all people, his parents. Where is the brilliant Demosthenes / Locke who shook the world while his brother was saving it from the Buggers? Where is the extremely interesting clash between brilliance of the mind & sickness of the soul that was the essence of Peter's character in Ender's Game?
Petra has become a snivelling housewife, and that was to me, as a woman, one of the major disappointments in the book. She has lost her edge, and is almost unrecognisable.
As for Peter's parents, they are definitely not the same people that we've met in Ender's Game or even in the two previous Shadow books. So suddenly they are nearly as geniuses as their son?
And finally, Bean : where is the tough, sharp as a knife and immensely clever boy who could outdo even Ender? Who won the respect even of Graff, and definitely of all of us? Now he is suddenly only interested in getting rid of Achilles and becoming a father?
* The book is preaching. Preaching on the benefits of marriage, preaching on the blessings of parenthood, preaching, preaching... And I say this despite having two babies of my own, when theoretically I should be in a position to better appreciate Card's philosophy. And I do, but from agreeing on whether it is good to have children to accepting this as the focal point of the whole book there is too big a gap.
* There are other inconcistencies in the book. Reading it, you come to expect that Alai should be Hegemon, Alai the gentle, clever, respected, deeply human Muslim Chalif. But we happen to know that Peter is and will continue being Hegemon, and with no war between religions : a war between a friend as beloved as Alai and a brother as feared and hated as Peter would have been mentioned by either Ender or Valentine in some point of their story. Yet where else could the story lead? To a meak submission of the Muslims to the Christians for fear of the Chinese? No way.
And Achilles, the master of duplicity, buys so easily into Suri's friendship that he allows his trust to actually lead him to his death?
* Finally, in general I found the book too flat. I missed terribly the contrasts and the clashes of the Ender series, in Xenocide for example. I missed the portrayal of interesting people, of misplaced loyalties (remember the people of Path?), of arrogant leaders, of love misunderstood and happiness lost and found, of death and rebirth. There is no such richness in this book.
All in all, a disappointment, and a bitter one at that, because in my mind Orson Scott Card was never an author who would make a book simply for money, or because pressed by his publishers, and I feel this book is nothing more than that. Even if you are a devoted fan, don't read it. And if you are not, don't start your acquaintance with Card with this book. Try the Ender series, if you are more sci-fi oriented, or even the Alvin Maker series if you prefer fantasy.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2002
It's still "good" Bean with the rest of Ender's jeesh against "bad" Achilles. But now they are growing up, and Orson Scott Card centers the book on the developing relationships between the maturing characters, instead of on the endless war between good and bad, which was already plenty covered in "Shadow of the Hegemon". Peter's change of character stays a bit to little explained for my taste, but the other characters are nicely portrayed. If you liked Ender's Shadow, even if you didn't like Shadow of the Hegemon very much, you'll like Shadow puppets.
on 28 July 2011
I really Enjoyed Enders game, I enjoyed Enders Shadow...
but now this is just getting silly. To me it seems like the publisher asked Mr Card to keep writing about these characters because it sells books... there is no real story.
The Characters have to act stupidly in order to spend the rest of the book trying to correct the stupidity. Thats the storyline as far as I'm concerned... They are the smartest ppl in the world? Hmmm no.
Thats the plot of this book, and the fourth in the series gets even worse. you will value the author more if you don't read this. If you do, its ok but a shadow ( yes pun..) of the original idea is all that remains. I was going to give 3 stars because it is ok, but I dropped a star because the author is just trying to make money and has no story to tell.
on 11 May 2008
Reading this book - you get the feeling that all previous character development had been totally ignored. Too many supposedly highly intelligent people suddenly do particularly stupid things without batting an eyelid - simply to allow the story to progress. I loved Ender's Game - this however feels like it has very little structure.
on 21 June 2013
Another competent story from Orson S. Card - worth reading without being anything special. Concludes Bean's story on earth before he departs with family to the stars.
on 26 May 2014
This book is brilliant. It makes me feel intelligent while proving I know so little about strategy. I can't wait to read the next one
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
In this novel the author, Orson Scott Card, focuses on secondary characters from ENDER'S GAME.
Peter Wiggin (a.k.a. the Hegemon, among other alias names), Julian Delphiki (a.k.a. "Bean"), and Petra Arkanian must deal with Achilles de Flandres. Achilles, if you recall from the previous books, was a genius. Mentally, however, he was very unstable. He wanted nothing more than the deaths of Peter, Bean, and Petra. Second on Achilles's list of things-to-do was to conquer all, starting with the Hegemony!
Suriyawong, Virlomi, Hyrum Graff, and Volescu appear as secondary characters. They were not just for show or used as "fillers" though. Each had vital roles in the book and possibly in the next. (My hope springs eternal.)
***** If you have not read the previous books, I highly recommend that you begin at the beginning, with ENDER'S GAME. Not only because all in this series is fantastic, but also because you when previous characters or events are mentioned, you would totally understand the reference and feel more a part of Card's vast universe. This author does not insult the intelligence of his readers; therefore, he will not go into deep detail on past events. He just mentions a person or event and carries on with the current story. I love that in an author!
Orson Scott Card made a fan of me with ENDER'S GAME. Of course, since I enjoyed it so much, I handed it over to my husband and the "Ender's Bug" (as I call it) bit him too. Card quickly made his way from my list of "Good Authors", to my list of "Favorite Authors", and currently resides on my "Elite List" which contains only four names (and one of them are deceased). I tell you that so you may understand that I do NOT consider myself to be overly dramatic when I say, "If you love Sci-Fi, you MUST read this series!"
Orson Scott Card rules the Sci-Fi universe! *****
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 14 October 2004
I'm a big fan of the Ender books, "Ender's Game" and "Speaker for the Dead" are both in my top 10 reads ever, but it is with increasing disappointment that I continue to follow the saga. I'm only writing this review to let people know that this book is even worse than it's predessor (Shadow of the Hegemon), and to only read it if you really need to find out what is happening to Bean (though that part of the story really doesn't develop as much as i hoped, so I guess I'll have to wait for the final part to see where he ends up).