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Hidden Empire Hardcover – December 22, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Card combines flag-waving, political diatribe and Christian fervor in this bombastic sequel to 2007's Empire. The young American Empire is confronted with its first major crisis since the Progressive War: the appearance in Africa of a highly communicable and lethal disease. America quarantines the entire continent, while pompous President Torrent dispatches an elite team of supersoldiers to help slow the disease's spread. Young Mark Malich is compelled by his Christian principles to volunteer to help the benighted African natives, but he winds up in a Nigerian hospital targeted for destruction by malevolent Sudanese soldiers, leading to questions about Torrent's true goals. An evil dictator is named Idi De Gaulle, the bad guys machine-gun live babies, and FOX News gets prominent placement, but the only people likely to pick this up are those who share Card's politics, rendering subtlety less necessary. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Card picks up the near-future launched in Empire (2006) a few years later, at first in Nigeria, where a 12-year-old monkey-catcher becomes the second victim and first survivor of a new, hypervirulent epidemic. Back in the post–second civil war U.S., President Torrent decides to quarantine all Africa and to send Empire’s surviving hero’s special-ops team to Nigeria to stop its government’s genocidal operation against its non-Muslim population, among whom the epidemic started. Before long, and at the conscience-prodding of her 13-year-old son, Empire’s nonsurviving hero’s widow, a top presidential advisor, is spearheading a voluntary effort to nurse the sick and train caregivers, starting at the plague’s ground zero. Such is the setup for an even more potent blend of high-tech military action, imperial politics, conspiracy, and practical philosophizing than Card whipped up in Empire. While the dialogue is often as cornball and Hollywoodish as before (particularly among the soldiers), the adult principals are sturdy, and in the African boy, Chinma, Card gives us a kid hero to rank with his sf immortals, Ender and Bean. --Ray Olson
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Also atypical for Card, there's much less showing, and much more telling — of what characters think and who they are.
It's a disappointing end to the fantastic story begun in Empire.
The deeper question about benevolent tyranny and what to do about it remains unresolved, suggesting a third edition. But the characters are uncommon and deeper than expected. I give this book 4 stars for that.