Shadow of the Hegemon
By Orson Scott Card; Read by David Birney, Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir, and Stefan Rudnicki
11 CDs – 13 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Published: September 2006
Themes: / Science Fiction / War / Politics / Youth / Strategy /
In Ender’s Game, Ender Wiggin and his jeesh won the war against the buggers. From there, the story of Ender and his sister Valentine continues in Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind. But what of the people Ender left behind? What of Ender’s power hungry older brother Peter? What of Bean and the other Battle School kids? Orson Scott Card gives us that story beginning with Ender’s Shadow, then continuing with this novel, Shadow of the Hegemon, and on to Shadow Puppets and Shadow of the Giant. (NOTE: Shadow Puppets is the only novel mentioned here that has not yet been released in unabridged format on CD by Audio Renaissance, but it is in their schedule for January 2007.)
One of the things I admire about the Ender novels as a whole is that Orson Scott Card has not written the same novel twice. Speaker for the Dead is a different kind of novel than Ender’s Game, and Xenocide different again. Ender’s Shadow marked a return in tone to Ender’s Game, but this book was different again. Shadow of the Hegemon is boardgame of a novel, a sort of international chess match between nations battling for dominance after the outside threat of the Buggers has been eliminated.
The Battle School kids are 14 or so now, and have all returned to Earth. Achilles (a failed Battle School student from the previous novel) works for Russia and is given a LOT of power. He orchestrates an operation to kidnap all of Ender’s jeesh from wherever they are in the world, then proceeds to convince these kids that they need to help Russia or rot in a cell where no one else can use them. I had tough time believing that this young man would be given authority to do what he does – what kind of government would give such power to a young teen? Even though history is full of young men in positions of great power, it didn’t ring true for me. The actions of all the other characters in the book were not problematic for me, but I couldn’t help but feel that Achilles just had too much authority, and I just couldn’t see adults readily giving that authority to someone that young.
The main character in the book, and in all the Shadowbooks, is Bean, who is a fascinating and engaging character throughout the series. He manages to figure out what’s going on before getting kidnapped himself, and thus starts the story.
The book switches point of view frequently, moving from Bean to Petra to Peter Wiggin. Scott Brick read the Bean chapters, Gabrielle de Cuir read the Petra chapters, and David Birney the Peter Wiggin chapters. Card provided plenty of dramatic moments in the novel for these performers, most notably the first meeting between Bean and Ender Wiggin’s mother, powerfully read by Scott Brick.
Card kept the scale of the novel both personal and global, and mentions Tom Clancy in his afterword as an influence. The book is an enjoyable addition to the Ender universe, and I’m eager to hear the next book, Shadow Puppets, when it is released. In fact, when it is, I may treat myself to the entire Shadow series again. They are superb productions, every one.
Audio Renaissance’s website has a page dedicated to the entire audio Ender series – find it here.
Posted by Scott D. Danielson