Ender's Shadow, a science fiction novel, is a companion story to Ender's Game that is told from the point of view of Ender's friend Bean. Bean grew up an orphan on the streets of Rotterdam after escaping from a genetic laboratory. His remarkable intelligence allows him to survive and earn a place in the prestigious Battle School, where he soon becomes second-in-command to Ender Wiggin. At the same time, Bean must also uncover the mystery of his past.
Bean, the main character, is a homeless child living in the hellish streets of Rotterdam in roughly 2170 after escaping as an infant from an illegal genetic engineering laboratory. Highly intelligent and extremely young, Bean is mainly concerned with his need for food. He joins a large gang of children led by a girl named Poke and sets up a system in which they can all receive nourishment at a local soup kitchen. Specifically, the group gets a bully, Achilles (pronounced 'Ah-Sheel' [French Pronunciation]), to be their protector. However, Achilles is increasingly ruthless, protective, and methodical.
Luckily for Bean, his incredible mind, creativity and determination bring him to the attention of Sister Carlotta, a nun who is recruiting children to fight a war against the Buggers. At the training facility, Battle School, Bean's intelligence becomes apparent. Not only is he smarter than average, he is smarter than any other child at Battle School, including Ender Wiggin. Despite Bean's intelligence, Ender has been chosen to save humanity from the Buggers. Bean begins to uncover secrets and truths about the school and struggles to understand what quality Ender has that he does not, until he is assigned to draw up a "hypothetical" roster for Ender's army and adds himself to the list. At first, Ender does not appear to recognize Bean's brilliance, but time shows that he was grooming Bean as his tactical support, putting him at the head of an unorthodox platoon challenged to outthink the teachers who designed the game and defeat their attempts to tip the balance of advantages towards Ender's rivals.
Throughout the book, the main theme rests on Bean's struggle against the IF administration, which seems bent on breaking Ender, even if it means murder. Throughout all of this, Bean has to contend with the reappearance of Achilles and his own struggle to understand what makes Ender human.
He also makes friends with an older boy named Nikolai who is drawn to Bean because of their similar looks. It is soon discovered, through Sister Carlotta's research, that the two boys are genetic twins, except for Bean's genetic enhancements. Back in the lab, the scientist Volescu had turned Anton's Key, which meant that Bean's body would never stop growing - including his brain - until a premature death between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five. Sister Carlotta ensures that Bean will get to live with Nikolai and his parents after the war. In addition, the book depicts the first of Bean's encounters with Achilles. At the end of the story, after they defeat the buggers, Bean is united with his real parents and Nikolai.
Ender's Shadow is the first of a series that includes Shadow of the Hegemon , Shadow Puppets , Shadow of the Giant , Shadows in Flight , and Shadows Alive .