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The Last Shadow

Review

The Last Shadow

It was ages ago --- back in 1985 --- when Orson Scott Card unleashed the novel ENDER’S GAME upon the science fiction community. The story of Ender Wiggin continued through a trilogy, followed by the Shadow saga. Card then spent a number of books exploring prequel territory. Now he has brought readers THE LAST SHADOW. As the title would imply, it is the final volume of the Ender story, bringing together elements of the Ender and Shadow sagas and effectively merging the two halves.

THE LAST SHADOW opens with the grandchildren of Julian “Bean” Delphiki being called upon to investigate a problem that has been of concern since the conclusion of the original Ender series: the Descolada virus. It's deadly, capable of wiping out all of humanity should it find a means of escaping from the planet Lusitania. They are tasked with discovering the extent of the viral spread, determining if its source was from another location and if it may have been created on purpose.

"[Card] carefully and successfully weaves together the relationships between these characters, allowing them to grow as individuals and as a core group."

They meet up with the Riberia family, who themselves have been exploring the virus, and receive help from Si Wang-mu, a newly constructed Peter Wiggin, and Jane, Ender’s old AI. Together, this team of investigators trace what they believe is the origin of the virus to the descendants of escapees from the first Formic War. They also uncover a secret hidden on Lusitania.

Card once again explores some deeper topics within THE LAST SHADOW, such as the difficulties of trying to contain and understand an ever-evolving virus (a topic pretty much everyone can relate to these days), genetic engineering, colonization and, as expected, the ethics of xenocide. In doing so, he carefully and successfully weaves together the relationships between these characters, allowing them to grow as individuals and as a core group.

Fans of the Ender series will find THE LAST SHADOW to be an engaging and bittersweet conclusion to a beloved franchise. It can meander a bit here and there, but taken as a whole, it is a more than capable and rewarding end. But is it really an end? Perhaps for the Ender saga it is, but maybe Card will find inspiration with the descendants of Bean and readers can find more connections to stories in the Enderverse to warrant a release in the not-too-distant future.

Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on December 17, 2021

The Last Shadow
by Orson Scott Card

  • Publication Date: November 16, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765304953
  • ISBN-13: 9780765304957