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The Last Shadow: Other Tales from the Ender Universe    by Orson Scott Card order for
Last Shadow
by Orson Scott Card
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

As a long time fan of Ender and Bean, I was thrilled to come upon Orson Scott Card's The Last Shadow: Other Tales from the Ender Universe. Concluding both the Ender and the Ender's Shadow series, it centers on Lusitania's incurable and deadly virus descolada, which would eradicate human if it escapes the planet.

The story features Bean's seven genius, genetically altered grandchildren - mainly eight-year-old Thulium (the youngest), Sprout and Blue. We first meet them, cooped up and squabbling on small starship Herodotus. A holographic image of Hyrum Graff shows up at Blue's birthday party to assign them the job of saving the human race from descolada. Two humans join the image - Jane (a version of Valentine) and Miro Ribeira, a native of Lusitania. They take the children to Lusitania via instantaneous interstellar travel.

Three sapient species coexist on Lusitania - humans, pequeninos, and a Hive Queen and formics. The children address the problem they have been assigned in different ways, but Thulium and Sprout take the lead. Thulium meets with the Hive Queen, who protects her. Their research leads them to Descoladora, where Sprout communicates with talking keas and ravens, humanoids, and underground Folk who quickly turn hostile. And though this rather scattered story takes a while to come together, they do solve the descolada problem.

Though I'll always read anything by Orson Scott Card, I found this story much too deus ex machina. I like the last thoughts the author shares with us though: 'Then he thought of all the amazing things that were bound to happen in the future, and he felt a stab of regret that even if he lived to be old, he would only see a tiny portion of the future, and would die before anything ended. Because it would never end.'

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