The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Paranormal Element: Magic
Series: Mither Mages Book 1
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Review copy provided by publisher.

Orson Scott Card is up there as my top five. Ender’s Game blew me away when I was in grade school and I haven’t looked back. I’ve powered through his novels and fallen in love with his characters. With time and age I moved away from the science fiction genres but I always went back to my favorites. Ender’s Game is one of those favorites. While, Ender’s Game will probably be my favorite OSC book of all time, Card surprises me after every book I read. I’ve read his political thrillers, his science fiction and his fantasies. The power behind his prose astounds me and I find more and more reason to push him higher and higher up the ranks of Greatest Authors ever. The Lost Gate took Card thirty years to write and I’m so glad he kept the idea alive. His idea of the Mither Mages is so encompassing and deep of a world you can’t even begin to compare it to other Young Adult Fantasy type novels.

There have been mages present on Earth since the dawn of man. They have played havoc with our lives, the powerful mages ruled as gods, their abilities allowing them to control the seas, the wind and even spacetime itself. Their power came from Westil a planet similar to Earth, and from where the mages are rumored to have originated. It took a great mage, called a Gatemage to keep a portal open that mages could pass back and forth from one planet to the other. Crossing the gate enhances the powers and strengthens the mages hold over humans. In the 6th century, the trickster and gatemage, Loki closed all the gates and left the mages stranded on Earth, their powers diminished, the godhood taken from them. The mages were separated into families and those families turned on each other, plunging the community into a violent but secret struggle. They removed themselves from the humans and laid in wait for the gates to Westil to one day open again, yet feared the gatemages after what Loki had done. Because of their fear they put into law that any gatemage born would be executed. 

Danny North, born of the North Family, was thought to be what the families called a drekka. He had no powers and was looked down upon by his peers and the adults of the family. He couldn’t do the smallest of magical tasks so he overcompensated by showing off his advanced intellect and language abilities that far surpassed his other cousins.  It didn’t make him any friends. 

As Danny aged he started to become aware of how he did things and began to doubt what he had been told all his life. He might not be able to make a Clant (a magical projection of yourself) but he seemed to be able to do other things…like maybe open a gate. This was a terrible thought for Danny, because gatemages were killed upon discovery. He had to hide his ability but it was just so hard because it wasn’t in Danny’s nature to sit back and watch. 

His antics finally get him caught and Danny must do the only thing that will post-pone his execution…RUN.

The best part about this literary masterpiece is the genius behind the world. The mages can explain almost any “inconsistency” in our history. They were the gods of myth, Zeus, Thor, Nimrod. They moved mountains, they churned seas. Anything in our past that has a supernatural aura about it was most likely a mage. But, OSC takes it even further by scientifically explaining it. Danny’s gift has to do with spacetime, and OSC’s descriptions were akin to explanations in Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. He put it so clearly that I could almost imagine Danny twisting gates and how he did it. 

On top of the world-building, Danny as a character was just over-the-top good. Snarky, intelligent, cute and constantly evolving, he was that perfect blend of love ’em or hate ’em kind of character. You might not agree with his actions, you might not even like him that much, but you understand Danny and it builds a respect that can only be found in a certain percentage of novels. 

I’m still thinking about certain parts of The Lost Gate. In a discussion that Danny has with Marion and Leslie regarding the fact that spacetime is a prankster, that it lives for chaos and inconsistencies, resonated as so true (quote is from ARC, which might have been revised):

“As far as I can see, spacetime is a prankster. Weird stuff just happens. Insane coincidences that mislead people into making false assumptions about how the universe works. You pray for somebody and they phone you. You keep bumping into the same stranger as if you were somehow meant to be together. Only there’s no meaning to it. It just happens. Spacetime is pranking us.”

After that particular chapter, I’m having the inconsolable image of Ashton Kutcher
as god, constantly punking us. Above all though, this was a great book and I’m frothing at the mouth to read more.

I’m a bit confused as to what category this novel should be placed in. While the POV is a teenage boy, the premise seems very adult to me, Danny much of the time acts as an adult. This is safe for teens to read, but it is not the usual YA novel. I highly recommend this for adult readers, fans of Card shouldn’t be disappointed.