Shadow Puppets

  • ISBN13: 9780765340054
  • Condition: NEW
  • Notes: Brand New from Publisher. No Remainder Mark.
Product Description
A Sequel to The New York Times Bestselling Enders’s Shadow

Bestselling author Orson Scott Card brings to life a new chapter in the saga of Ender’s Earth.

Earth and its society has been changed irrevocably in the aftermath of Ender Wiggin’s victory over the Formics–the unity enforced upon the warring nations by an alien enemy has shattered. Nations are rising again, seeking territory and influence, and most of all, seeking to control the skills … More >>

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5 Responses to “Shadow Puppets”

  1. The spectacular Ender’s Game and its very good to excellent sequels established Card as a major SF writer. With Ender’s Shadow, he came close to matching the brilliance of the original story. Then came Shadow of the Hegemon, with its focus on Peter Wiggin and Achilles, and it seemed like all the power, originality, and dramatic tension faded away, leaving only a shadow to lay across your mind. This latest work is neither as good as Ender’s Shadow nor as mundane as Hegemon, but rather somewhere in-between.

    Here we find Bean growing beyond the norm, symptomatic of his genetic flaw that will eventually kill him while still a young man. And growing in other ways, as his relationship with Petra finally flowers under her tenacious insistence. This is probably the best part of this novel, as we see sides of the two that have not been in great evidence in the prior works. And we get some small looks into the thoughts and characters of some of the other Battle School graduates, mainly Virlomi, Han Tzu and Alai, each of whom contribute some major items towards Peter and Bean winning their current battle with Achilles. The Wiggin parents emerge from obscurity and are revealed to be (unsurprisingly) very intelligent and (surprisingly) quite forceful. All good things…

    So where does this book fail? The main failure is Peter Wiggin himself. For a man who could sway world opinion with his exacting, careful logic as Locke and browbeat everyone into emotional frenzy as Demosthenes, Peter is depicted here as a remarkably stupid, arrogant, and emotional teenager. Achilles, the demon, remains almost totally offstage, providing little room for dramatic confrontations, and what ones there are come off as almost anti-climatic. And finally, the circumstance that draws Bean back into the struggle between Peter and Achilles was totally preventable, a very sad and uncharacteristic lack of foresight by both Bean and Petra. These items do much to kill any major excitement in this work, even though the major (world) battle could have formed a taught political and military thriller.

    Is this book readable? Certainly. Card is still an excellent writer. His prose, descriptions, and dialogue (especially the back-and-forth between Bean and Petra) are all well formed and his moral insights flow from the premise of the story. But this one just doesn’t have the edge-of-the-seat tension, the incredible insight into human character that have been the hallmarks of his best work.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  2. Anonymous says:

    As soon as Shadow Puppets entered stores I ran out and bought it. I’m a huge fan of Orson Scott Card and the Ender series. Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow were my all-time favourite books.

    But while Ender’s Game was spectacular, Ender’s Shadow great, and Shadow of the Hegemon good, I thought Shadow puppets was way below my expectations.

    Everything felt tired, boring, and predictable. As with the later books in the Ender series, It seemed as though there wasn’t enough plot to stretch across the pages.

    Bean and Petra’s characters seemed to change radically from Shadow of the Hegemon and Ender’s Shadow with no explanation. I also was disapointed in the dialogue. People said things rather abruptly and for no reason. Bean and Petra’s romance also seemed very awkward with no excitement at all.

    And where was Achilles? His great chapters with Petra made me forgive some of Shadow of the Hegemon’s boring parts.

    But as a loyal fan, I still give it 3 stars because it kinda satisfied my longing for another Ender book. It’s great for fans, but I wouldn’t really recomned it.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  3. I put a question mark next to the word conclusion in the title of this review because it’s not clear if “Shadow Puppets” is the final book in the entire ‘Ender’s Saga’ (‘Bean sub-saga’). A large number of issues are resolved in this book, but others are still left up in the air. At the present time, there is listing or information about any future episodes in this series. So, for the time being, I will assume this is the last book. If it is, despite seeming loose ends, it would make a satisfactory conclusion.

    “Shadow Puppets” should probably be the end, though. Much like the last portion of “Xenocide” and all of “Children of the Mind” in the original ‘Ender’s Quartet’, Orson Scott Card seems to be running out of steam with these characters. Card still displays his gifts of representing human interactions, but “Shadow Puppets” has less ability to stand on it’s own. Unlike “Ender’s Shadow” and, to a slightly lesser degree, “Shadow of the Hegemon”, you absolutely have to have read the previous books in the series for “Shadow Puppets” to have any true meaning. Whereas “Ender’s Shadow” and “Shadow of the Hegemon” were connected by similar characters, yet told different stories (much like “Ender’s Game” and “Speaker for the Dead”), “Shadow Puppets” merely continues the storyline from “…Hegemon”.

    To summarize, Peter Wiggin has achieved his long sought after goal of becoming the Hegemon, but the title carries little power with it in the wake of a large Chinese invasion throughout southern Asia, and subsequent assumption of the position of Earth’s premier military power. These actions were set in motion by the psychotic Achilles before his true nature came to light and he was placed under arrest by the Chinese government. Peter sees his only true way of thwarting the Chinese and restoring prestige to the office of the Hegemon is to rescue Achilles from prison and put him to work for the Hegemony. Think that, despite Achilles manipulative skills, he can control him, Peter mistakenly compromises his own security and drives away many of those who served him, including Bean and Petra.

    During their self-imposed exile from Hegemon, Bean and Petra try to find ways to undermine the Chinese and Achilles while also dealing with a burgeoning romance and Petra’s desire to have children by Bean before he dies of his genetic disorder. While it is somewhat interesting to read about Bean and Petra’s romance, it is still somewhat dry. It’s not impossible to conceive of this happening, as they are both probably 16 years old at this point and far older in many other ways, given what their early years consisted of. Yet, there’s not really any spark to the relationship. It seems to the reader as if they are having this romance because they feel that it’s something that they should do, not because there is any passionate romantic feelings sparking between them. It can’t carry near the same weight as the personal interactions and tender romance that took place in “Speaker for the Dead”. That example is just thrown in as a perfect representation of Card’s ability to convey human emotion. It’s not quite as well-crafted here. It’s not bad, though, so the reader still has some emotional investment in these two.

    There are other elements of “Shadow Puppets” that are quite interesting. For the first time in all seven of the “Ender’s” novels, the reader gets a chance to truly see the personalities of Theresa and John Paul Wiggins, the parents of Peter, Ender and Valentine. A great deal of time is spent on Peter’s reluctant interaction with his parents and his eventual acceptance of their advice as relevant and appreciated. They come across as so much more than the bland, inattentive parents that readers were first introduced to in “Ender’s Game”. In addition, there are interactions with many other former Battle School students. Alai and Han Tzu are just a few of the names who play major roles in the events that shape this novel.

    On the whole “Shadow Puppets” was a good read. If there are more books on the horizon, then all the better. However, if this is where the series ends, then so be it. It’s not a bad way to go out.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  4. The genesis of the Bean/Achilles interaction was clear. Two telegenic, winning characters (to the other characters, not necessarily to the readers). One with a tragic physical flaw that is likely to kill him, the other with a tragic moral flaw, ditto.

    The problem is that the writing, especially in this book, doesn’t rise to the level that Card seeks.

    Unless you enjoy endless conversations about minor issues, or five-page musings by minor characters, you are likely to find this book very slow moving indeed. This book resoves the Eastern crisis that Card set up in the last book. But it does it in almost a storybook fashion. After a drop by drop setup (Chinese water torture, maybe?), we are told of tremendous military manoevers that I really don’t find convincing. Sure, maybe the Muslims can do all the things that Card has them do. But the denouement relies on all the things being UNDETECTED, it is never explained how that is possible. What happened to radar, satellite imagery, intelligence (in more ways than one)?

    The whole military plot relies on the Chinese being slightly stupider than a comic book villian and little weapons advancement beyond 1949. Very strange.

    The Bean/Achilles conflict reaches its resolution in this book as well, I will not say how. But by the time we finally get to it, it is difficult to care. In my opinion, this is due to Card’s failure to make us feel anything except irritation when it comes to Achilles, however much we may like Bean. Shadow of the Hegemon gave Card the opportunity to make Achilles interesting, rather than just an almost hypnotically alluring (to the other characters) villian. It didn’t work.

    We get to see more of Peter Wiggin in this book. But he comes across more as a sullen teenager, who (no fewer than twice!) has to be forcibly woken up by his parents than the titular ruler of the world. If you’re hoping to see how Peter transforms himself and his job into what we see at the end of Ender’s Game, well, don’t hold your breath, but if this is what you care about, hold on to your bucks until the next book. For there will be one.

    A great present for the insatiable Card or Ender fan.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  5. Overall I didn’t think this book was as bad as other reviewers would claim, although my laundry list of complaints is as long as many others’

    - The “witty banter” between Bean and Petra, and between the Wiggins was, as others have mentioned, not witty

    - Peter is by far the most disappointing character in the series to date: instead of seeing the transition from Ender’s tormentor to master statesman we are subjected to the tedious ranting of a spoiled brat teenager

    - Card rambles and preaches nonstop (but still better than Children of the Mind in this area)

    - Petra’s obsession with having Bean’s babies is so scary it’s funny

    - Achilles becomes as unimposing as Peter

    - The story involving the missing embryos was an interesting subplot at first, but then it becomes THE plot for the majority of the book

    - The overall story is interesting but the plotting is very dull and predictable. Not once is there a surprise, and despite the “action” that occurs, never is there a suspenseful moment.

    And on and on. But I thought the story was better than Shadow of the Hegemon, which felt like the game of Risk on steroids. In Shadow Puppets, the characters are forced to make hard choices, success and failure were not always so clear, and a feeling of melancholy hung over the tale. Although the major characters in the book disappointed me more often than not, the minor characters played interesting roles. Virlomi’s Wall of India was simple, yet powerful. Alai in particular was fascinating as the Caliph, a figure elegant and powerful, yet terribly constrained by duty and religion (he reminded me a bit of the young protagonist of Dune).

    After the disappointing end to the original post-Ender’s Game trilogy, I had ceased to expect great things of this series, so perhaps that is why I was not as disappointed as others were with this book. I was encouraged by Card’s return to focusing on the characters, even if his attempts at characterization were often flawed at best.

    I see that Card is churning out another book in the series: “Shadow of the Giant” is due to come out early next year. Part of me wishes that I had stopped at the original “Ender’s Game”, I should have known Card could never top that. Yet I keep going in the series, as I imagine many other readers have, seeing sparks of genius in his books and always hoping for more (despite the inevitable disappointment). Please, Mr. Card: hit one out of the park with your next book. The patience of your loyal readers is starting to die out.
    Rating: 3 / 5

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