BOOK TITLE: Shadow Puppets (Ender’s Shadow #3)
Author: Orson Scott Card
The temptation after finishing the previous book of the series exceeded the normal limits so I decided to head right to the bookstore and buy this one too. A real page turner (but beware, spoilers lay ahead)!
This beautiful psychological story continues with Peter Wiggin as the actual Hegemon; he decides to place the headquarters of the Hegemony near Ribeirao Preto, a Brazilian city. Thus begins a new adventure, Peter gathering Bean, Petra, Suriyawong and Virlomi under the same roof. After receiving a tip from China informing him of the whereabouts of Achilles he decides to send Suriyawong and not Bean on a mission in order to retrieve Achilles and bring him to the headquarters. The mission is successful and Peter believes he can actually use Achilles and understand the way he thinks in order to help himself in his new role as the Hegemon and afterwards dispose of him. After finding this piece of information Bean and Petra go into hiding.
“But what kind of race is it, when the racers never let go of each other’s hands, and the winner pulls the loser laughing over the finish line?”
Bean and Petra find refuge in Damascus where they meet with Alai who plays a very important role in the Muslim world (one you shall discover for yourself). A plan is on the move in Asia and Alai plans to get rid of the Chinese domination. When China finds itself attacked they make public some information about Achilles leaving him with nowhere to turn.
The book reaches a climax when Peter and Bean return to the Hegemony headquarters and confront Achilles and then moves towards and unexpected ending which makes you want to run as fast as possible and grab the next book of the series from the closest bookshop (just like I did).
And now, to the personal opinions and feelings. I (almost) bit my nails all through the book. Always wondering what’s going to happen next, what are they going to do, where is Bean headed and so on. I thought it was interesting that Peter made the decision to bring Achilles close to him, and somehow I understood it (sort of… keep your enemies close), but I felt that in this book, through his action and the bad consequences they brought, he finally understood that maybe he is sometimes a bit too stubborn in his actions and the people around him actually have some good advice for him, advice that could help him be a better and actually useful Hegemon. It’s incredible how in Ender’s Game I disliked Peter and how now, while reading the third book from the Shadows series, I actually took a liking to him and I liked the way he was actually growing up.
I don’t think that it is necessary to mention that Bean is my ultimate favourite character from this book and probably the whole series. My love for him is deep as I have this weird tendency of warming up and emotionally bonding with fictional characters.
I was very happy to see how Bean’s and Petra’s relationship developed and that even if Bean was scared of the fact that he would (spoiler?!) die in the near future he decided to love someone and let that someone love him back. I actually felt proud (maybe a weird choice of words, but that’s how I felt) when he decided to have (spoiler again?!) children with her because I kept hoping that they are going to have his character and be as noble and inspiring as him; and I was obviously heartbroken when the embryos disappeared, despising both Volescu and Achilles.
Another thing that I liked was how Peter’s parents were more present in this book and how they all worked together in order to find a way for Peter to return to his place as the current Hegemon. Also, it was exciting to see the dynamics of the countries and alliances in this new world that Orson Scott Card built, combining politics with science fiction and strategy.
“Where ideas are real and reality is shadow.”
The final confrontation between Bean and Achilles and its conclusion were quite unexpected. I’m not going to reveal its nature or the action of the characters because I think it’s a key point of the book, and even if at some point I knew this should happen I never really thought it would be now (you shall see); but it’s exquisite how all the actions or inaction of the characters are motivated in a psychological and strategic way giving the book a similar flavor with the one before. Again, as I mentioned while reviewing the previous book, I think the series is no longer a traditional science fiction one by definition, but rather a psychological one exploring the dilemmas of the characters and their choices. This book teaches us a lot about human beings and how they interact and it is a valuable lesson regarding friendship and enemies.
I must say I truly enjoyed this book, as much as the ones before and I can’t wait to read the others and find out what happens to my beloved Bean. I suggest you science fiction fans, or those who aren’t (and will surely become after this wonderful series) to read it; it will be a truly unforgettable experience.
Overall rating: 5 stars
Goodreads link: Shadow Puppets
Orson Scott Card