Wookiee Hut Book Reviews presents:
Shadow Quartet — Shadow of the Giant
Review by Shadow Chaser

Author: Orson Scott Card

Rating: 4.5/5, or Superstar Destroyer — intimidates and pleases!

Prepare a box of tissues.

If there ever was an author that got his readers to cry by the last few pages of the book, it would be Orson Scott Card.  That is what happened to me by the time I finished the last of the Shadow Quartet books in the Enderverse, Shadow of the Giant.

This book brings closure to one of the feistiest, loveable, and most brilliant of all Card’s characters, little Julian “Bean” Delphiki.  It was Ender who lead them, but it was Bean who was his shadow, there to help Ender.

But Card pointed out, the brilliant child never really wanted power, just to help in any way possible.

We left off with Bean finally defeating and killing Achilles at the end of Shadow Puppets, so naturally the next step would be for him and his wife Petra to go find their missing babies.  However, with Achilles gone, unrest grows and this time, the playing field has been upped considerably.

Throw in three veteran Battle Schoolers, two who were part of Ender’s Jeesh.  Taking up the full strength of the Caliph, Alai goes on a reluctant conquest of the world for the Muslim cause.  However, opposing him and doing some of her own conquering does Virlomi — once a frightened prisoner of Achilles, now believe herself to be Shiva — incarnate.  She calls herself Mother India and leads the Indian people in a bloody jihad against both the Muslims and the Chinese.

However, all the Chinese wants to do is to push all foreigners out of their country and perhaps grab a bit of land for themselves.  Leading them and guided by the Mandate of Heaven is none other than Hot Soup — Han Tzu, who has taken the title of Emperor.

While those three are playing a large scale version of Risk with the world, Peter the Hegemon, reestablished in his compound in Brazil, launches a peacekeeping task force and draws up plans for a unified Earth into one single government called the FPE, Free Peoples of Earth.  However, before he can unite all of the Earth, he still needs the most brilliant mind, save Ender, that is able to outthink the warring factions.  His Strategos, General Julian “Bean” Delphiki, known as The Giant.

Through the book, Bean juggles with his duties to help Peter achieve his goal, finding his missing children who were planted in the wombs of different mothers, and his own mortality.

In all this, we see the return of Mazer Rackham and Colonel Graff who play larger roles, offering to the Battle Schoolers a chance to get away from the politics of Earth and to head to colonize other worlds.  While a tempting offer, we also get to see some of the Battle Schoolers’ darker sides; the hunger for power, their need to put their brilliant minds to use and quite possibly destroy the world in the process.

There are many memorable quotes in this book and while a dark humor is prevalent, there is also a sense of bittersweet emotions that you know the characters you’ve come to love are ending with this final book.

A lot of questions that popped up in the end of Ender’s Game and the rest of the Speaker and Shadow Quartet are answered (especially the formation of the unified Earth government and the development of better colony ships), but not all questions are answered.

Card weaves such a brilliant web of politics, deceit, and humanity in his story that it is hard to put this book down.  But one thing he captures is Bean’s realization of his own mortality and how his early death might affect those around him, especially Petra, but also the warring factions who know about his condition.

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Possible Spoiler:

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“He thinks,” said Bean, “that when I don’t believe in a cause, I can be beaten.  That I would beat myself.   The trouble is that I do believe in the cause.  I think Peter Wiggin is a decent man.  Ruthless, but I’ve seen how he uses power, and he doesn’t use it to hurt anybody.   He really is trying to create a world order that leads to peace.  I want him to win.   I want him to win quickly.   And if any of you think you can stop me.”

“We don’t have to stop you,” said Crazy Tom.  “We just have to hold out till you’re dead.”

Utter silence.

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While Card paints a grizzly picture of human nature and war, this book is, with a few faults.

It could be me, but when did the others of Ender’s Jeesh learn about Bean’s condition?  I remember him telling a few, but that was about it.  He wanted to keep it under wraps so how did they know?

This book leaves off at and end that doesn’t feel like an end.  There is a sense of wonderment, but only a slight closure on the life of Bean.   Granted, Card might have left it for us to draw our own conclusions — similar to the end of Children of the Mind.   But I must say, for those who read “The Investment Counselor”, the small short story about Ender meeting Jane, this book does answer where she came from.

But for some questions that linger in my head, I had the chance to talk to Mr. Card during Boskone 42, a convention held Feb. 18 — 20 in Boston, and he told me there will be bridge book between the two Quartets in the near future.  So perhaps those questions will be answered in that book.

Overall, one of the best endings to a great Quartet about the little boy who grew into a literal Giant that led armies and was worshipped by many.  Oh, there is a guest appearance by a certain character at the end of the book.   There are also two surprise weddings.

But I won’t say a thing.   You’ll just have to read.

In the end all I can say is to quote from Mr. Card:

“In the darkness, where do shadows go?”

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