Thursday, August 23, 2012

Reflections: Shadow of the Giant

Adam C. Zern offers his thoughts on Orson Scott Card's Shadow of the Giant:

"When I completed Shadow Puppets I was as hesitant as I’ve ever been to continue reading the Shadow series, which is an extension of the Ender series.  I felt the book was extremely weak in both story and character.  It made me feel as if Orson Scott Card was wandering helplessly in the desert of his own imagination and never finding an oasis of meaningful creativity.  Happily, Shadow of the Giant, the 4th book in the Shadow series, is a solid return to the character-driven, emotional core that made Card’s other Ender and Shadow books so good.

The best part of Shadow of the Giant is that one of the main conflicts and with it the main antagonist—Achilles—is gone.  Bean’s personal war with Achilles was overwrought and its subsequent resolution was surprisingly weak.  Now that it’s over it feels as if Card doesn’t have to slavishly return to the conflict as he repeatedly did in the last book.  The meat of this book is the confrontations between a variety of characters and countries, which allows for more diverse and interesting scenarios.  In other words, Shadow of the Giant is a whole lot more entertaining than Card’s last entry in the series.

Anyone familiar with any of the books in the Ender or Shadow series knows that they’re based on psychology as well as science fiction.  Card sometimes meanders into too much psychoanalysis of his characters, which he accomplishes through stilted dialogue, but the characters remain fascinating.  As I have said before, I am invested in these characters and will continue reading what Card has to offer in this universe even after the Ender and Shadow series are over.

By reading in their entirety the Ender and Shadow series in the Ender’s Game universe, I can honestly and confidently say that there are two books which are must-reads—Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow.  The other books in the two sagas or worthwhile but only after deciding if the characters deserve your time."

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