Orson Scott Card’s Shadow of the Hegemon continues the Bean-focused storyline from Ender’s Shadow, with a good focus on Peter Wiggin and Petra Arkanian as well. We have Achilles back as the bad guy, and Card does a much better job of fleshing him out this time around.
“What a laugh, though. To think that one human being could ever really know another. You could get used to each other, get so habituated that you could speak their words right along with them, but you never know why other people said what they said or did what they did, because they never even know themselves. Nobody understands anybody.”
After the war with the Formics has ended, Ender and Valentine hop a ship to colonize new worlds, while the rest of the Battle School grads return to families they haven’t seen in years and try to figure out how to adapt to this new life. About a year later, these kids start disappearing. Bean figures it out and escapes into hiding, then watches as the rest of the members of Ender’s jeesh go missing. He knows Achilles must be involved, and sets out determined to figure out how to rescue his friends – especially Petra. Meanwhile, Peter Wiggin tries to work out his next step in his own plan for world domination.
This has always been one of my favorites in the series, mostly because of the characters. I’ve always loved Bean, and his friendship with Petra remains a highlight of the series. They spend most of the book separated, but still working in sync. We also have a bit (just a bit) of the wonderful Sister Carlotta. And then there’s Peter and his parents, who provide a lot of unexpected humor to the book (along with Peter’s cold ambition).
I did NOT like the audio version of this book. This marks the sixth book in the Enderverse that I’ve listened to on CD (and I’ve since started the seventh) — all using the exact same actors for the voices. For some reason, in this version alone, only one actor pronounces Achilles’s name properly (it’s supposed to be the French pronunciation, Ash-eel) — the other say it like A-Kill-Ees. This despite the fact that they all pronounced it correctly in the last book, and in the next book (Shadow Puppets) that I’m listening to now. And the second half of the book features some weirdness with the word “Hegemon” — one guy keeps saying it wrong and about half the time, they (very obviously) dub his words over with another actor’s. But only half the time. Very bizarre, and so noticeable as to distract from the story.