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    SHADOW OF THE HEGEMON by Orson Scott Card (see his website)

    TOR, January 2001

    The war with the alien Formics is over, won by Ender's brutal belief in a final solution, but now humans revert to form. With the common enemy who held them united vanished, national interests again play a role. The children who, with Ender, led the fight against the aliens now become tools and drivers in a new battle--one to reshape and rule the Earth. Three strong characters dominate this world stage--Peter Wiggin, Ender's brother and a man who seeks to rule the world; Achilles, a murderer who briefly belonged to the 'battle school' and who seeks to destroy anyone who saw him in a moment of weakness; and Bean, Ender's deputy and military genius.

    Through treachery and promises, Achilles captures the cream of the former battle school, Ender's inner cadre and uses them to formulate military plans that can give any nation a dominant position in the world. Bean, the only exception, he tries to kill--Bean once defeated him and led to his expulsion from the battle school. Peter and Bean, untrusted as young children, try to warn the world of Achilles' evil but are largely unsuccessful. One by one, nations are plunged into war in a game of treason that Achilles seems certain to win.

    Bean and Petra (another battle school veteran who for whom both Achilles and Bean hold a romantic attachment) dominate the novel as characters although Achilles dominates it as the central actor. Petra's attempts to keep her sanity and be faithful to her beliefs despite the brutal conditions of her captivity by Achilles adds an emotional depth critical to SHADOW OF THE HEGEMON's strength. Bean must wrestle with the brutal reality that he must ultimately choose between two men who seek to rule the world. All of his genius must be thrown behind a cause he knows is flawed because the alternative is so much worse.

    Orson Scott Card (see more reviews of novels by this author) is a powerful writer capable of creating a sophisticated blend of plot and character. By moving his fictional world beyond the dominant character of Ender, who is sent out to the colony worlds and not available to solve this problem, Card ensures that the minor characters of his earlier novels can florish. Fans of the Ender series will enjoy this continuation. Readers new to Card will find that they can enjoy this novel without having to read the entire series first.

    Four Stars

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