10 August, 2012

Review: Shadow of the Hegemon

Shadow of the Hegemon Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Bean's portion of the Ender Saga continues with a complex political struggle for power between countries of the future. While the book has its flaws, it nevertheless remains a fun read throughout, especially for anyone with existing knowledge of the cultural histories of the nations involved in the story.

However, in order to make it far more clear to the reader that battle school grads are extraordinarily intelligent, Card had to write almost all adults in charge as being stupid in comparison. For example, battle school grads are shown making inferences that adults in the story could not see for themselves -- yet these are not the kinds of things that you'd expect adult leaders of the world to not be able to see. There's nothing wrong with using this device to better portray the children -- there is a level suspension of disbelief under effect after all -- but it clashes strongly with the Speaker for the Dead storyline, where Card made normal intelligence everyday adults seem almost inhumanly intelligent with no background explanation as to why.

Granted, these stories take place thousands of years apart, and it might just be that in the Ender universe, humans of the 2300s are, on the whole, significantly dumber than the humans of reality, whereas the average humans of the 5000s are about on par with the battle school grads of the 2300s. Still, none of this is explicitly stated, so it's a little disconcerting at first to see the average humans be so incredibly dense in Shadow of the Hegemon when the average humans of Speaker for the Dead were do dramatically intelligent.

Regardless, this book stands well on its own, continuing Ender's Shadow in the same genre-shift that Speaker for the Dead did from Ender's Game. This is definitely well worth the read if you're into the Ender universe.

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