Ender's Shadow

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search


"You think anybody will ask me for military advice? Because I'm going to get into this war, even if I have to lie about my age and join the marines."


The Ender's Shadow series is a retelling of Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, from the viewpoint of Bean, one of his friends. The Shadow series then follows Bean in the Twenty More Minutes Into The Future Earth, consisting of Shadow of the Hegemon, Shadow Puppets, and Shadow of the Giant. The Shadow series is a more direct continuation of the original novel and its themes of war and politics.

A fifth installment, Shadows in Flight, was released in 2012, and an upcoming sixth entry is in the works.

Tropes used in Ender's Shadow include:

  • Action Girl: Any female Battle School grad would be this, but Petra and Virlomi are the only ones who have any major prominence in the story, so they get the awards.
  • After the End: of the Formic War, that is.
  • Air Vent Passageway: Used for various stealth tactics.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: how Peter perceives his family.
  • Ascended Extra: Bean and Petra, who become the main characters of this series after getting only a few lines in Ender's Game (despite being two of his best friends, thanks to Ender's isolation).
    • Not to mention all the other Battle School graduates that warranted maybe one or two lines in the original book.
  • Babies Ever After: Orson Scott Card's opinion that raising a family is the only true happiness is certainly in full force here. Leads to, among other things, Chickification.
    • Slightly subverted in "Shadow Puppets", where John Paul is shown contemplating why and how much he loves his children.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Bean wants to get bigger. He will. Too big.
  • Beware the Superman: The Battle School graduates are treated as People Of Mass Destruction throughout the series, for increasingly justifiable reasons. And then there's the fear and loathing about Bean.
  • Bilingual Bonus: This series introduces Battle School slang, which is appropriately polyglot since Battle School draws children from all over the world. All of them are variations or corruptions of extant non-English words and phrases, but we'll stick with the one you'll hear most: the slang term for a personal army, "jeesh", comes from the Arabic جيش ("jaysh"), literally meaning "army" or "corps".
  • Blessed with Suck: Bean. His brain can keep growing and making new neurons... but only because his body grows too, until his heart gives out or his spine caves in, thanks to the Square-Cube Law.
  • Chickification: Gets applied to the male characters as well. Ambition? Ruling the world? Saving the world? Being the most influential politician or general in human history? Nope: nobody's happy until they're married and making babies. And that means everyone, even the almost mad scientist, gets married and starts having babies.
      • Everyone except Graff, and Card makes sure he regrets that.
      • Said scientist also specifically claims that it's the male biological imperative to seek out a female partner (one, specifically), marry her, and start making kids. Which goes into sharp contrast to Valentine's speech where she claims that the male imperative is to make babies, but not to marry a single woman.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them
  • Confusion Fu: Achilles's M.O.
    • Adopted by Bean when he Kills Achilles.
  • Corrupt Politician: Card's poor opinion of the governments of Russia and China (in the 'verse, as in real life, at least nominally elected) shines through.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Hyper-competitive supergeniuses are throwing earth into nonstop war, so Graff gives each of them a planet to rule.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Volescu.
  • Fake Defector: Revealed with the Meaningful Echo below.
  • False-Flag Operation: Several in Shadow of the Hegemon. When the Chakri (Thailand's supreme commander) decides to get rid of Bean and Suriyawong, he blows up the barracks where they are staying and blames it on an Indian strike force in order to justify a military response. However, as the boys survive, the Chakri's deception is discovered, but the Prime Minister of Thailand decides to maintain the ruse for the same purpose.
    • Also, when preparing to attack Thailand, China sends a truck with a hidden missile launcher across the border in order to shoot down a Chinese plane in Chinese airspace full of Thai passengers. Then China would claim that Thailand deliberately set up the attack on its own citizens in order to justify attacking China, thus allowing China to strike first.
  • Friendly Enemies: Though the members of Ender's Jeesh end up opposing each other at various times, the lines of communication remain open (especially since they all have each others' email addresses).
  • Gambit Pileup: Hoo boy. The whole world is one big Gambit Pileup.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke
  • A God Am I: Virlomi.
  • Happily Married: The Wiggins and the Delphikis.
  • The Hero Dies: Bean finally succumbs to his condition at the very end of Shadows in Flight.
  • If You Kill Him You Will Be Just Like Him: Subverted, for laughs (they don't actually kill him).
  • Insufferable Genius: Bean (dies down a little once he stops being an emossin' little showoff).
  • Long Lost Sibling
  • Manipulative Bastard: Achilles de Flandres.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I expect you to solve your own problems."
  • Memetic Mutation: Invoked by Petra, who starts a meme to send a Message in a Bottle.
  • Moe Greene Special: Achilles.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Multiple Battle School grads, in a row, though most particularly Virlomi (deliberately set up by Graff so that he can cut them a check).
  • Not Blood Siblings: Once again inverted. Bean becomes very close friends with Nikolai Delphiki and calls him as good as a brother, before discovering that his "creator" (Volescu) stole some of the Delphikis' IVF embryos for modification. One of those embryos became, of course, Bean.
  • Not My Driver
    • Lampshaded by Petra.
  • Number Two: Julian "Bean" Delphiki, by definition: there's a reason all the book titles are, "Shadow of the [Someone Else]" (at least, until the final book, where it is him casting the shadow).
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: What John Paul and Theresa Wiggin have been displaying to let their kids run mad.
  • The Plan: Even more so than the original novel, now that there are multiple Battle School grads and worthy contenders all trying to outthink, outmaneuver, and outpsych each other for their own ends.
  • POV Sequel: Basically the whole point of Ender's Shadow.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Averted. Many people are shot in the head, and it's a messy affair. Specifically, when Achilles shoots Petra's protector in the head from point-blank range, Petra is covered in blood and brain matter. Later on, the blood spatter is used to analyze the size and rough shape of who was sitting in the back seat and walked out alive (i.e. the missing silhouette).
    • However, Achilles gets a Moe Greene Special, and it strikes so perfectly that it'd said he looks like he just fell asleep.
  • Properly Paranoid: Bean. As soon as he starts feeling that he's currently too vulnerable, it probably means there's an airstrike headed in his direction.
  • Ranked by IQ: A Battle School teacher creates resentment toward young Bean from his classmates by revealing that Bean scored highest among them not just on IQ, but on every aptitude measure but one — that of physical ability, since Bean is much younger and smaller.
  • Retcon: Bean's internal monologues from Ender's Game have been replaced with new ones in Ender's Shadow to better fit with his new backstory and characterization. For example, there's a brief scene from Bean's POV where he remembers his mother and father back on earth, whereas in the Shadow series he's been a street urchin since he was an infant. However, any other scenes shared in the two books remain the same.
  • Take Over the World: Shadow of the Hegemon and Shadow Puppets are a reconstruction of this trope. They present a well thought-out political scenario where this could actually happen, and a super-genius villain who could probably pull it off.
  • Token Girl: Petra Arkanian. Yes, we mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Battle School slang allows OSC to get away with swearing in foreign languages.
  • We Have Reserves: At the time of Shadow of the Hegemon, India has the largest army in the world (with a population of over 1.5 billion). So, naturally, their military leaders try to overwhelm their enemies with sheer numbers despite heavy attrition. All the Battle School kids can see how stupid this idea is. Not only do you lose a lot of men but you also strain your supply lines, which can be easily raided by hit-and-run strike forces, causing the massive army to starve and quickly run out of ammunition. Of course, it turns out that the whole thing is designed to allow China to take over India.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Peter. With an added bonus that he has been Overshadowed by Awesome Younger Brother by the age of 16, even though he (Peter) had already proved himself at that point to be one of the greatest statesmen in history. This is basically Peter's Freudian Excuse and combines with his sociopathy in interesting ways.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: Super genius Bean adds up the number of toon leaders and seconds in an army divided into five toons, adds one for himself (who was in command of a special "part-time" toon) and comes up with nine instead of eleven. Card was apparently still thinking of the four-toon system the armies used before Ender shook things up.
  • You Fail History Forever: In-universe. Achilles seems to think that Vladimir Lenin made Joseph Stalin into his trusted Dragon, until Stalin turned against him and killed him. In Real Life, Lenin hated Stalin and tried to discourage him from gaining power, only for Stalin to do so after Vladimir's death.