Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Shadow coverDecades ago, the Formics almost wiped out humanity. The invading army was destroyed, but, convinced that the Formics will attack again, the human race has been preparing an offensive mission. Part of that preparation involves gathering gifted children to train in Battle School, an orbiting military academy. Ender Wiggin has been chosen as the best leader to fight the next war, but he’s not the only one whose talents will be needed.

Bean has been living on the streets almost as long as he can remember. He’s malnourished, undersized…and brilliant. At the age of four, Bean manages to orchestrate an overhaul of the social structure of the Rotterdam street children simply by planting a few ideas in the right minds. When Sister Carlotta, a self-recruited scout for children who possess the intelligence and personality to do well in Battle School, encounters him in the midst of this new system, she’s sure that Battle School is precisely where Bean belongs. But while Ender has a gift for gaining others’ trust, Bean’s experiences on the streets have left him wary and abrasive — hardly the sort to inspire trust in other soldiers. Then Bean discovers a secret about his origins, and he begins to wonder whether he can even trust himself.

Ender’s Game has become a classic of science fiction and of YA fiction, and its parallel novel, Ender’s Shadow, has gained significant popularity as well. Both books are excellent, and are followed by several high-quality sequels, so that a positive experience with one book offers up a string of other promising reads. That said, the books (and their respective sequels) are quite different. Where Ender’s series is heavily psychological and occasionally rather mystical, Bean’s series is much more pragmatic, and frequently political. I often recommend the series’ in their entirety (though I actually like Bean best of the two protagonists), but with the Ender’s Game movie coming out this year, and rumours that the story is a blend of both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, now is a great time to check out the first two, at least.

Read a review from MIT’s The Tech, or this one from another review blog.

Find a simple guide to the chronology of the Ender/Bean novels, or a more complex one here (click “Chronology Chart,” then “show”).

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6 thoughts on “Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

  1. I love Bean the best as well. It took me a long, long time to get through all of the novels in the Ender line, but one I started on the Shadow series there was no stopping until the end! I have to admit I haven’t picked up the latest in the series. This is a good reminder to go get a copy.

    • I haven’t read the newest one, either, and it looks like I have some short stories to catch up on. I actually really enjoyed the later Ender books once I got around to reading them, but mostly in spite of Ender, I’m afraid. (-: Looking forward to seeing what they do with the movie, though!

      • That movie can’t come soon enough!

        I remember the first time I tried to go through the Ender series I was in high school. I loved “Ender’s Game”, really enjoyed “Speaker for the Dead”, and then we met Han in “Xenocide”, and I hated her so much that I had to put the book away. It was several years before I picked them up again.

        I also made the mistake of reading “Ender in Exile” before finishing the Shadow series.

  2. I haven’t read “Ender’s Shadow” but I have read “Ender’s Game.” My first read was all in one sitting and I was left crying at the end. Part of me is reluctant to read any of the others, since the experience can’t possibly be as good as it was with the first book. Or maybe I’m just lazy. 🙂

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