BOOK TITLE: Shadow of the Giant (Ender’s Shadow #4)
AUTHOR: Orson Scott Card
After finishing this book I must admit that I have a hard time writing about it. Not because it was awful, but the opposite. It is hard to describe because this book was full of emotions and unexpected turn of events and when I closed it, after reading the last page, I felt somehow drenched of emotion and with a void inside (a bit dramatic, I know, but good books with characters that you absolutely love can leave you like that – I know you get me! Just remember how you felt when Dumbledore died…). So you will understand why it is kind of hard for me to write something coherent about this book without starting crying and whining again and causing a flood. But I shall try (& be warned, spoilers lay ahead!)
“Life is full of grief, to exactly the degree we allow ourselves to love other people.”
This book continues to follow the life of the graduates from the Battle School involving them (again, if possible) in even deeper political plots. Many of them find themselves occupying or close to occupying the position of leaders of their own country – Han Tzu in China, Virlomi looked upon as a goddess in India, Alai as the new Caliph, all this while Peter Wiggin tries to ensure his position as the Hegemon of Earth with a noble quest in mind, that of establishing a world government free of war under the name of Free People of Earth (an alliance between multiple country as you will see during the book).
Bean and Petra play no small part in this story, helping Peter to achieve his goal under the supervision of Mazer Rackham and Colonel Graff. Meanwhile, they keep searching for their missing embryos (I will let you discover for yourself where that plot line ends, wouldn’t want to spoil the fun) and all this under a lot of pressure because of Bean’s problems caused by Anton’s Key. The story becomes more complex with interesting turns of events and unexpected actions that all beautifully blend into a psychological and epic story which in the end just leaves you wondering.
“ If you give orders and explain nothing, you might get obedience, but you’ll get no creativity. If you tell them your purpose, then when your original plan is shown to be faulty, they’ll find another way to achieve your goal. Explaining to your men doesn’t weaken their respect for you, it proves your respect for them.”
I kept the summary really short and tried to give as little detail as possible because I think this is the type of book where it is important to discover every little thing on your own and put the bits and pieces together while the plot is unfolding. What I can say is that this book gives even more depth to the characters (I thought that impossible after reading the previous book of the series, I was actually wondering how is possible for the author to develop the characters even more) – for example I had very mixed feelings about Virlomi in this book, even if in the previous I actually liked her; the author showed me something more from her personality, something I didn’t expect to be there and that changed all my perception about her. Again, as in the previous books, I cannot say that the science fiction element is extremely present (yes, there are people in the space, but in the present almost everything happens on Earth and with the exception of some equipments and biological concepts used everything else is utterly psychological) but that doesn’t bother me at all because I felt through all the books from the series that Orson Scott Card has built a science fiction frame and filled it with psychological content exploring the human nature in a very fascinating way and I absolutely love that.
“Nobody ever completely means what they say. Even when they think they’re telling the truth, there’s always something hidden behind their words.”
The writing – O.S.C is a terrific writer, he knows how to sketch a world in words like no other, he built the most palpable and empathic characters and finds witty plots where every single event and twist is perfectly timed.
My favourite character, needless to say, is Bean. I cannot praise him again because I have done so in the last review and I think you have already understood how much I love and admire him. Another notable mention regarding characters is (again) Peter Wiggin, who is another example as to how your perception concerning a character can change quite drastically from a book to the other; I think he has a strong and admirable personality in this book and in the end maybe you will find yourself longing for him as I did.
“Like Santa Claus. You adults pretend he doesn’t exist, but we know that he really does.”
Speaking of the end, I have to warn you that it is a very emotional one and for me it actually ended in tears; even now, as I am writing about it and rewinding the events in my head I find myself feeling a bit blue again. That’s how it is for me with good books and dear characters. I do hope that those of you who have begun the series are determined to read this book as well and share their opinions with me and I urge those of you who haven’t had the luck to read this beautiful series to do so as quickly as possible because it will change your perception about sci-fi literature.
“Mine mine mine. That was the curse and power of human beings—that what they saw and loved they had to have. They could share it with other people but only if they conceived of those people as being somehow their own. What we own is ours. What you own should also be ours. In fact, you own nothing, if we want it. Because you are nothing. We are the real people, you are only posing as people in order to try to deprive us of what God means us to have.”