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Book review: Orson Scott Card's 'The Gate Thief' tells gripping, dark story

Published: Saturday, March 9 2013 1:30 p.m. MST

"THE GATE THIEF: A Novel of the Mither Mages," by Orson Scott Card, Tor Books, $24.99, 384 pages (f)

Orson Scott Card continues to expertly weave a fantasy series in “The Gate Thief: A Novel of the Mither Mages." As always, he allows the reader to make discoveries along with his characters — and share in their subsequent excitements, hopes and horrors.

In “The Lost Gate,” the gate mage Danny North discovered his powers, made friends and succeeded in creating a "great gate." He also thwarted Loki, the gate thief, from stealing his ability to create the gates that enable him and others to travel instantly from one location to another, including between worlds.

“The Gate Thief,” which is scheduled to be released on March 19, picks up almost immediately where “The Lost Gate” left off. While Loki no longer poses a direct threat, Danny now faces the challenge of maintaining peace between the families, or clans of Mither Mages descended from people who were once believed to be gods. The families’ powers have greatly diminished but can be restored by passage through a great gate, and the families will do anything to create another one.

Juxtaposed with that is the pressure Danny receives from his mortal friends, who don’t have magical abilities but, once they understand his power, will take whatever they can get. This leads to sexual advances on Danny from almost every female he knows.

But Danny has grown and matured since first discovering his gate-making abilities, and desperately wants to remain a good person. Missteps in using his powers and the gates he inherited when he robbed Loki continually remind him he doesn’t know enough. He also suspects the gate thief had reasons for closing the gates, reasons which he races to discover.

Loki knows the danger, but his desire to help Danny keep Earth and the planet Westil safe is often overshadowed by his thirst for justice against Queen Bexoi, who was once his lover but then murdered their son in the course of fulfilling her own dark ambitions.

Danny needs all the help he can get; while the antagonists in stories generally have a few vices, author Card introduces a villain of whom many are already wary. The battle of good and evil is shown in a different light, as is the struggle for one’s soul, in a way that’s simultaneously thrilling and chilling.

As the second book in its series, “The Gate Thief” continues the action but may not be a hit with all who enjoyed the first book, namely young teenagers. While the story is gripping, it becomes very dark. The book contains some profanity and has thematic and sexual elements inappropriate for readers younger than mid-teen.

Rachel Brutsch is a former intern of the features section of the Deseret News. She has a bachelor's degree in communication from BYU-Idaho. She loves stories in all formats. Email: rachelpbrutsch@gmail.com

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