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Shadow Puppets    by Orson Scott Card order for
Shadow Puppets
by Orson Scott Card
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

In this novel, Card continues the adventures of the Battle School children following the events described in Shadow of the Hegemon. The story centres on Bean and his evil genius Achilles, the Hegemon Peter and his parents, and on Petra. She finally wears Bean down until he agrees to marry her and have children, despite his grave misgivings about the risks involved. These are not only that any children might inherit his early intelligence, late physical blooming, and built-in death sentence, but because of their potential value to warmongers such as Achilles.

Peter inexplicably saves Achlles from the Chinese, and against the advice of all, keeps him as an assistant. Naturally, Achilles subverts the Hegemon's staff and small army, and Peter and his parents are forced to flee to the space station of the Battle School for safety. Bean and Petra had already fled into anonymity. Meanwhile, a worldwide pan-Muslim movement has chosen a Caliph, another of the Battle School children, and is preparing a war of liberation of India from the Chinese.

For me, the attraction of the original idea of children being forced to grow into battle geniuses has long faded, and the total unlikelihood of the whole concept is becoming obvious. The entire plot here, for example, hinges on supposedly very intelligent people doing some very stupid things. However, Shadow Puppets is exactly what fans of the earlier books want - fast paced action sequences and political manoeuvering, with intervals of profound philosophical musings. I have no doubt another sequel is in the works and will be welcomed.

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