This is a sequel to Ender's Shadow, which was successful primarily because it recapitulated the essential elements of Ender's Game but totally from the point of view of Bean, Ender's lieutenant and, as it turns out, successor. Shadow of the Hegemon takes a different approach, telling the story (again from Bean's point of view) of political and military events on Earth after the end of the Bugger war, and after Ender and his sister Valentine have left Earth and Earth's time behind on a ship to the colonies.
Card is an accomplished wordsmith, with a particular talent for depicting unusual children and making the astonishing normal and believable. Ender's Game (and only to a lesser extent Ender's Shadow) shows this clearly as well as the author's genius for storytelling that involves the reader willy-nilly. His talents are not displayed to such advantage in this novel, which leaps from the microcosm of the Battle School to the macrocosm of Earth with its diverse cultures and warring nations.
The talented children from Battle School have been released to their families, but their value as war leaders is so great that they are in danger from both friend and foe. They are all kidnapped, but Bean escapes to enter into an uneasy alliance with Ender's brother Peter, the future Hegemon. Although the principal theme of the novel is the battle to prevent world domination by China and Russia, the action is concentrated on the rescue of Petra Arkanian from Achilles, a dark shadow from Bean's past. Unfortunately this is stretched out laboriously to the end, still leaving the villain alive to continue his nefarious machinations in the next two books of the series.
Many of the characters from the previous books reappear and remain as interesting as ever. Card does not lose his deft touch. Bean, Petra and Peter Wiggins develop in distinct and fascinating ways, as does Sister Carlotta, but Card fails to make his super-intelligent, super-villain Achilles believable despite his best efforts. This weakens the impact of the story, and bodes ill for the future of the series. Nevertheless I look forward to the next episode with some anticipation.
Review written by Wesley Williamson, 2001.