Shadow of the Giant
By Orson Scott Card
Tor books, 2005
Shadow of the Giant is the fourth novel in Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow sub-series. It is immediately preceded by Shadow Puppets, and followed by Shadows in Flight.
This is the story of the major world powers sorting themselves out after the end of the Formic War (with a lot of help from the Battle School crowd), Peter's ascension (back) into power, and Bean and Petra coming to terms with Bean's disease. There is absolutely no point in reading it if you have not read the preceding books, specifically Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Shadow Puppets.
Following Shadow Puppets, Achilles is dead and the Battle school kids are free to return to their home countries. Naturally, they are seen as powerful military weapons and are put to use sorting out Earth once and for all. Alai is made Caliph of the powerful Muslim League, Han Tzu controls China, Virlomi leads India... with each country being thoroughly pissed off at the others. The Muslim League is still occupying India and eyeing China, China is interested in invading everyone, and even Russia is looking at getting back into the world-powers game. Thankfully, most of the Battle School graduates are good and sane people, and are working towards peace -- despite what the human race wants.
While General Graff and Mazer Rackham are doing their best to get the Battle School graduates shipped off to distant colonies where they can't do any harm, Peter is trying to rebuild the Hegemon. Bean and Petra side with Peter, working to protect those countries small and fearful enough to join his alliance. Peter can't rely on their help for too much longer, as Bean is still growing, and not expected to live for much longer, and he and Petra have just had a child. Or perhaps more than one, as it appears that Volescu did indeed kidnap a number of Petra's and Bean's embryos, and has implanted them in unsuspecting parents. Oh, and he may also have released a genetic virus into the population. All of this needs to be sorted out before Bean grows too big to survive in Earth's gravity field or it's back to world war, again.
Obviously, you really shouldn't be reading this book if you haven't read the earlier books, and if you have read the earlier books, you know exactly how this book reads. There is a lot of politicking and plotting, a number of battles, and then a lot more politicking. Peter becomes more likable. Bean becomes more angsty. All in all, it is a good read and exactly what we expect from these fill-in-the-gaps novels, with a good bit of setting up for Bean's upcoming adventures in space. I quite enjoyed it, but it does less to move the overall storyline forward than some of the other books, and contains much less exciting science fiction than many of the Ender's Game series. It is however, a good bridge into the later adventures of Bean in Shadows in Flight.