I usually like Orson Scott Card's stuff, and Shadow of the Hegemon is no exception. It is a very compelling story full of interesting characters.
The only thing that gave me any trouble were the names. For some reason, Hegemon just sounds like a Pokemon. I picture it as a grass-type Pokemon that looks like a bush. It evolves into shrub. Or something like that. There's also Chamrajnagar, who is a minor character. As he's from India, I'd guess it's an Indian name. I do know a girl from India, but since she's actually in India at the moment, I can't ask her if it's a real name or how it's pronounced. So, I just think of him as Charmander.
None of that hurts the book. In fact, it's really just me being silly. The characters are just great. Bean is kind of a pain in the ass, but he's very loyal to his friends. Peter Wiggin is also a pain in the ass, but he actually would make a good leader. Petra's a pain in the ass too, at least somewhat, but she holds up remarkably well in the hands of a psychopath. Achilles is one of the greatest villains I've ever read; he combines being a psychopath with being a genius very well.
The plot centers around Bean's efforts to rescue Petra, and the other Battle School graduates, from Achilles. Sure he also helps Peter become Hegemon (the titular ruler of Earth), but that's not the focus of the story. It's not all that secure of a position anyway, since Achilles' machinations have made him the unofficial ruler of most of Asia and a big part of Europe.
Unfortunately, the end leaves us hanging a bit. Is Achilles still alive and a threat? Probably, but now I'll have to read the next book to be sure. Anyway, I'll give Shadow of the Hegemon 5 yo-yos. Right now, I'm reading Firethorn by Sarah Micklem. So far, I'm not liking it all that much, but seeing as how I got the hardcover out of a bargain bin in my grocery store for $5.99, I wasn't expecting a masterpiece. Still, I'll have to finish it before I give an actual verdict.