Ender's Shadow

Orson Scott Card, Author Tor Books $24.95 (379p) ISBN 978-0-312-86860-4
You can't step into the same river twice, but Card has gracefully dipped twice into the same inkwell--once for Ender's Game and again for this stand-alone ""parallel novel."" The course readers will follow this time is of the superhuman child Bean. Raised on streets ruled by starving children's gangs, he was too weak, at age four, to hold peanuts in his hand, but ingenious enough to trick the other children into civilizing themselves--and to keep himself alive. When his genius and uncanny understanding of individuals' motivations are discovered, he is sent to Battle School, where children learn to command fleets for the war with the alien Buggers--the smallest kid ever to do so. Bean is not as perfect as Ender Wiggin--hero of the Ender Quartet, begun with Ender's Game and concluded with Children of the Mind--but he becomes Ender's ally. Though Bean is cold at first, the kind of child who weighs the costs of hugging the nun who saved him from the streets, he wants to understand the respect and love that Ender wields. Thus, Bean's story is twofold: he learns to be a soldier, and to be human. Devotees of the Ender saga will delight in the revelations about the formation of Ender's Dragon army and about the last of Ender's games. Though newcomers to the series may miss many of the novel's points, the wonders of Battle School and flashsuits and children's armies should keep them turning pages. As always, everyone will be struck by the power of Card's children, always more and less than human, perfect yet struggling, tragic yet hopeful, wondrous and strange. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/1999
Release date: 10/01/1999
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Hardcover - 289 pages - 978-0-312-87331-8
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