Still in the universe of Card’s enormously popular 1984 child-warrior yarn, Ender’s Game, here’s a sequel to Ender’s Shadow (1999), which explored the roots of the antipathy between Ender Wiggin and his even more capable lieutenant, Bean. Now a struggle for world domination is shaping up. The protagonists will be: Bean himself; Peter, Ender’s older brother, already famed as the respected essayist and advisor Locke; and Achilles, Bean’s old adversary, a psychotic killer who murdered Bean’s childhood friend Poke, and whom Bean arranged to have booted out of Battle School. Peter manages to whisk his sister Valentine and Ender off on a colony starship. But Achilles kidnaps all the Battle School graduates save Bean, whom he tries to assassinate. Petra, a strategist almost as good as Ender and Bean, becomes in effect Achilles’ slave. Bean joins Sister Carlotta, the nun who befriended him in the bad old street-survivor days. Achilles, meanwhile, pulls strings in Russia, India, China—the US is a client state, and Europe enfeebled. Rather than allow Achilles to achieve his aims, Bean knows that he must help Peter become Hegemon. But their egos clash, and Bean’s freedom of action is restricted by the need to rescue Petra. Can he and Peter put aside their differences and cooperate? Even if they do, can they stop the insensate Achilles?
Much less gripping, and much more talky, than the splendid Shadow. Doubtless the series will continue, but this seam’s pretty well mined out.