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Excerpt from Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Shadow of The Hegemon

by Orson Scott Card

Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card X
Shadow of The Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2001, 384 pages

    Paperback:
    Dec 2001, 384 pages

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"You're too cynical," said Nikolai. "Some who talk about peace and conciliation merely want peace and conciliation."

"You watch -- the nations that offer to arbitrate are the ones that think they should rule the world, and this is just one more move in the game."

Father laughed. "Don't read too much into that," he said. "Most of the nations that are always offering to arbitrate are trying to recover lost status, not gain new power. France. America. Japan. They're always meddling just because they used to have the power to back it up and they haven't caught on yet that they don't anymore."

Bean smiled. "You never know, do you, Papa. The very fact that you dismiss the possibility that they could be the kidnappers makes me regard them as all the more likely candidates."

Nikolai laughed and agreed.

"That's the problem with having two Battle School graduates in the house," said Father. "You think because you understand military thinking that you understand political thinking, too."

"It's all maneuver and avoiding battle until you have overwhelming superiority," said Bean.

"But it's also about the will to power," said Father. "And even if individuals in America and France and Japan have the will to power, the people don't. Their leaders will never get them moving. You have to look at nations on the make. Aggressive peoples who think they have a grievance, who think they're undervalued. Belligerent, snappish."

"A whole nation of belligerent, snappish people?" asked Nikolai.

"Sounds like Athens," said Bean.

"A nation that takes that attitude toward other nations," said Father. "Several self-consciously Islamic nations have the character to make such a play, but they'd never kidnap a Christian girl to lead their armies."

"They might kidnap her to prevent her own nation from using her," said Nikolai. "Which brings us back to Armenia's neighbors."

"It's an interesting puzzle," said Bean, "which we can figure out later, after we get to wherever we're going."

Father and Nikolai looked at him as if he were crazy. "Going?" asked Father.

It was Mother who understood. "They're kidnaping Battle School graduates. Not just that, but a member of Ender's team from the actual battles."

"And one of the best," said Bean.

Father was skeptical. "One incident doesn't make a pattern."

"Let's not wait to see who's next," said Mother. "I'd rather feel silly later for overreacting than grieve because we dismissed the possibility."

"Give it a few days," said Father. "It will all blow over."

"We've already given it six hours," said Bean. "If the kidnappers are patient, they won't strike again for months. But if they're impatient, they're already in motion against all their other targets. For all we know, the only reason Nikolai and I aren't in the bag already is because we threw off their plans by going on vacation."

"Or else," said Nikolai, "our being here on this island gives them the perfect opportunity."

"Father," said Mother, "why don't you call for some protection?"

Father hesitated.

Bean understood why. The political game was a delicate one, and anything Father did right now could have repercussions throughout his career. "You won't be perceived as asking for special privileges for yourself," said Bean. "Nikolai and I are a precious national resource. I believe the prime minister is on record as saying that several times. Letting Athens know where we are and suggesting they protect us and get us out of here is a good idea."

Father got on the cellphone.

He got only a System Busy response.

"That's it," said Bean. "There's no way the phone system can be too busy here on Ithaca. We need a boat."

"An airplane," said Mother."

Copyright © 2000 Orson Scott Card

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