( #EndersGame )
After my last review, I almost quit reading the “Ender Series”. But since there was only one book left of the “Shadow Saga”, I wanted to see how it all worked out. I am glad I stuck with it because “Shadow of the Giant” was much better than the last two books.
The book definitively wraps up the hegemon storyline concluding with Peter Wiggin as an old man. The last two books depicted the battle to unify humanity under one world government after the “Formic Wars”. Some of it was good, some of it was bad, most of it was “meh”. Since “Shadow of the Giant” was the finale, the writing in this book was consistent, the motives were much clearer, and (for the most part) none of these “genius” characters did anything that defied logic (although there was the one scene were Peter’s parents talk about farting which was out of place).
Card does a solid job getting most of the characters to reasonable places to make the end battle tie everything up…except Virlomi who somehow decides she is a goddess for no reason and foolishly leads the Indian army against China. Essentially, Orson Card trapped himself by establishing the battle school graduates are all military prodigies, none of them can make a mistake “unless they temporarily go nuts”. And I say temporarily because the second she loses, she comes back to her senses and they give her an entire planet to lead. Really.
The point about Virlomi’s behavior brings me to my other major criticism: Card treats his female characters horribly:
1. Valentine from the first series is supposed to be a genius but always plays supportive second fiddle to Ender and Peter. She never really has a defining moment in any of the books.
2. Mrs. Wiggin is first written to be an idiot, but then fleshed out in the Shadow saga to be really smart but bitter and sarcastic.
3. Petra is relegated to becoming a baby making machine. 10 children total by the end of her life. Card gives her one scene were she leads a small campaign which was written off as “a distraction.” Also, she is the only one of Ender’s Jeesh in the first book to crack under the pressure of the battles, a point brought up often, but she never really has an epic dare to be great situation where she gets the stink off.
4. I mentioned Virlomi’s issues above
5. Since I am talking about all the female characters, Ender’s wife in the first series – Novinha is an absolutely horrible bitch. No redeeming qualities at all. Her character is a narrative black hole. The Novinha character essentially ruins Ender so badly that Card kind of hits a magic reset button to get him out of the marriage while saving face.
Readers – is there one female character that comes out positive (don’t say Jane, she is a computer)?
Female issues aside, I would rank Shadow of the Giant #3 (out of the 8 books) in terms of quality and payoff. There was an emotionally satisfying end for Peter and ties back to the original books. It is funny how the four “Shadow Saga” books have echoed the original four, Card seems to get tired of his main character and shifts focus to someone else by the end. In “Children of the Mind“, Ender was in such bad shape as a character, Card literally flushed the toilet and made a new Ender. In the Shadow series, Bean is the focus, but by the fourth book Peter becomes the lead. This time around, Card does it much more gracefully and the results are considerably better. I enjoyed this last book so much that I purchased “Ender in Exile” to read, so be on the lookout for that review.