Orson Scott Card has been writing top-notch fantasy, science and speculative fiction for over four decades. He struck gold in 1985 with the release of ENDER’S GAME, which, along with the eventual series, became a classic enjoyed by readers young and old, and has even become required reading at the high school level. He has written a total of 10 novels in the Ender’s Saga while also penning other recurring series, as well as excellent stand-alone titles. He now embarks on a new series, Mither Mages, that kicks off with THE LOST GATE.
The protagonist and unlikely hero is a teenager named Danny North, who may look and behave like other teens, though the comparison ends there. Danny is actually from a family of gods --- mages who once went by names like Odin, Thor and Freya. He lives in a broken-down old house located on the outskirts of the mountains of western Virginia. His busy household is filled with dozens of cousins along with aunts and uncles, all of whom are ruled by his father.
The plot is driven by some ancient history that still impacts Danny’s “family” in the present day. Back in 632 A.D., the ancient trickster Loki of the North of Mitherkame is alleged to have stolen all the power between the worlds of gods and men and hidden it away. His actions closed the gates between the world of men and the gods’ home world of Westil --- and the gods have been living in exile on planet Earth ever since.
Danny was raised to believe that he was a “drekka,” a mage born with no powers at all. As he sat by idly while his many cousins continued to perform acts of magic that included the ability to create things that humans called fairies, ghosts, golems, trolls, werewolves, etc., Danny sat and watched with envy. Unbeknownst to him, he carries within him a power none of his cousins possesses: the ability to create gates.
This power, if made public, would mark Danny as a Gatemage. Due to the infamous history with gates that was brought about by the heinous acts of Loki, Danny realizes that the Law of the families requires that all Gatemages be killed. Fearing discovery of his new abilities, Danny flees his family compound and makes his way into the world of men. He realizes the only way he will survive is to act normal and control his gift. He also hopes that his ability will allow him to open up the gates between worlds that Loki closed so long ago and, in turn, win back the favor of his family.
As Danny’s adventure begins, he soon recognizes that the life of an American teenager poses its own challenges, and his lack of knowledge in the ways of mankind makes this an uphill battle. At the same time, there are powers that exist in the world that do not want Danny to succeed in opening up the gates between worlds. Most specifically, he can expect to be stripped of all his power by the Gate Thief, who seems determined to keep all the gates closed.
Orson Scott Card knows how to write a compelling tale, and his imagination seems to have no boundaries. THE LOST GATE introduces an interesting teen hero in Danny North, and the Mither Mages series seems destined to be greeted with the same success as his prior series. As I was reading it, I could not help but draw comparison to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. I’m sure that Card will have more than a few surprises in store for Danny as the series continues and eventually makes its own mark on the young adult market, where he already has enjoyed much success.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 4, 2011