The eighth installment in Card’s Ender series (Ender’s Game, 1984, etc.).
Here, the focus is on Ender’s brother Peter Wiggin, and on the surviving graduates of the Battle School, the group of child-warriors who, led by Ender, defeated an alien invasion. Highly trained strategists, though still in their teens, several of Ender’s comrades have become rulers of powerful nations. Han Tzu (“Hot Soup”) is Emperor of China; Alai is Caliph of a united and militant Islam, and Virlomi has taken the role of a goddess to lead India's resistance to the Muslim invasion. Peter faces an uphill battle trying to reunite a world fragmenting into nationalities and sects, with a major war brewing in Asia. His best hope is Bean, Ender’s brilliant second-in-command, but Bean suffers from a genetically induced gigantism that will kill him if he remains on Earth. Moreover, Bean and his wife Petra are more concerned with tracing a number of embryos stolen from them by the scientist responsible for Bean’s disease than with saving Peter’s project. Inevitably, though, their separate goals lead them to join forces, and the major storyline follows Peter’s stratagems to bring the apparently runaway geopolitical forces back under control. Card manages to keep several balls in the air while, at the same time, slowly bringing his young protagonists to recognize that their talents are suited to something more than leading armies in battle. There’s a bit more talk than action, and too much of it bordering on lecture, but the close finds the major characters neatly disposed of, and the larger plot problems apparently solved—although Card has left himself material for more sequels.
A neat wrap-up, if short on the brilliance of the first in the series.