3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A parallel novel - the concept works beautifully,
This review is from: Ender's Shadow: Book 1 of The Shadow Saga (Hardcover)
I read Ender's Game, the first book in Orson Scott Card's Ender saga, a couple of weeks ago and found it compelling reading. The book was by turns exciting and tragic, and Card's writing style was brief and to the point, focussing on the characters and messages within the story without falling into the trap of excessively descriptive prose to pad the book out. This made Ender's Game one of my favourite books of all time, and I eagerly awaited the sequel (Speaker for the Dead) to appear in my local library.
However, Ender's Shadow (Card's latest novel in the saga), was available first and I desperately needed to read another of the series. This book is a parallel novel to Ender's Game, set in the same time period and featuring the familiar settings of Battle School and Command School, as well as most of the original characters. This time the story is seen through the eyes of Bean, a frighteningly intelligent and perceptive boy who has had to fend for himself living rough on the streets of Rotterdam since the age of 9 months! (He is no ordinary child). His sharp mind and will to survive against all odds are soon noticed, and like Ender he is rushed through Battle School as the threat of the alien invasion draws closer.
The character of Bean contrasts Ender perfectly - his early years on the streets have made him calculating and without emotion. It is fascinating to see his attitude to Ender change as the story progresses and Bean realises and accepts the part that he will play in the war against the alien race. He learns the meaning of love, trust and loyalty, and finds that he has, after all, got a soul. Anybody who has had to struggle in life and felt that they were "different" will relate to this aspect of Bean's character.
Much of the story concentrates on Bean's thoughts and unfailing sense of logic and tactics, making Bean's character probably better defined than Ender's, but I somehow cared more about Ender because he was ridden with guilt and regret at the tragic end of Ender's Game. In contrast, Bean's conscience is clear at the end of the "Bugger War" (he doesn't have to live with the consequences) so the reader feels much less pity for him. In this respect, the conclusion of this book has less impact.
In brief, Ender's Shadow is another classic which can be read immediately after Ender's Game - reading the saga in this order probably has its benefits, as it is rewarding to have the first novel fresh in your mind. "Shadow" explains many events and actions of the characters from "Game" but you have to bear in mind that "Shadow" is seen from Bean's perspective and opinion. Ender's Shadow has pages that are almost cloned from Ender's Game but are new and fresh because of Bean's outlook, and these are expertly handled. This book didn't quite have the impact on me that Ender's Game did, but I still cannot recommend it highly enough. Now on to Speaker for the Dead!