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The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
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The Lost Gate (edition 2011)

by Orson Scott Card

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779None11,815 (3.68)56
Member:emoulding
Title:The Lost Gate
Authors:Orson Scott Card
Info:Tor Fantasy (2011), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, fantasy, 2012 reads

Work details

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

2011 (18) adult (4) ARC (6) audio (4) audiobook (10) coming of age (6) Early Reviewers (7) family (6) fantasy (134) fiction (48) gods (8) hardcover (5) library (5) Loki (8) mages (5) magic (32) Mither Mages (15) mythology (25) novel (6) read (5) read in 2011 (6) science fiction (35) series (8) sff (10) teen (6) to-read (20) urban fantasy (12) Virginia (5) YA (12) young adult (23)
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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 60 (next | show all)
Card's style is distinctive. Sometimes I'm not too crazy about his characters. Unfortunately, the main character of this book, Danny, was not one of my favorites. The novel had two storylines going; the secondary storyline was, by far, the more interesting and more believable, even though it was more "fantastical." I'd have preferred much more about the "other" world and less about the rather unlikeable Danny. ( )
  marti.booker | Dec 2, 2013 |
Sometimes I can look past an artist (whether they are a singer, writer, screenwriter, producer, etc) and their personal opinions. In this case I can't.
  kerrikins | Sep 25, 2013 |
Find this review at Walker of Worlds, here:
Danny">http://www.walkerofworlds.com/2011/03/review-lost-gate-by-orson-scott-card.html

Danny
is an almost orphaned child raised in a family of magical adepts, while he himself lacks the skills and talents that set his family apart from humanity. Instead, he focuses on his academic studies, absorbing history, languages, and learning at a voracious rate. One day, almost by accident, that all changes when he realizes he unexpectedly inherits magical powers long thought to be lost from the world. This discovery is a death sentence in his family, and he does the only logical thing—he runs, narrowly escaping certain death.

On his journey, he explores his new and strange magical powers, as well as the non-magical world he has been hidden from his whole life. He is a mage, descendent of the gods and goddesses man worshiped in ancient times, but he travels among normal people, finding his way among the beggars and thieves in the underworld of Washington, D.C.

Even as he does, he is hiding from his family, the descendents of gods. You see, the ancient pantheons in the Greek, Nordic, Roman, or Hindu world are really visitors to Earth, mages whose powers were amplified by their journey through magical gates between their world and Earth. Those gates were lost many centuries ago, stranding them here and weakening their powers. Now, Danny is about to find himself at the center of an ancient struggle to get back to their world, renew their powers, and regain control of the Earth as gods and goddesses. His very existence will reignite a power struggle between the modern descendents of the pantheons for the control of the gates, and he will be at the center of it.

While not an entirely original story, it is clever and creative. A young boy finds out he is not actually as normal as he thought, but is really a being of unique magical powers (like Harry Potter), the son of gods (like Percy Jackson), and those powers make him among the most powerful people in the world. Orson Scott Card brings his own flavor to the story, but it is a story that has been done better before.

Even so, The Lost Gate is full of interesting ideas. Some of the best sections are during jumps from Danny’s perspective on Earth to that of another mage on the gods own world. While most of Danny’s story is focused on his learning about his magic, by interweaving the alternate perspective, we catch glimpses of the greater conflict, one that began thousands of years before Danny’s birth. However, the story feels rushed, and in the rush, Card’s best ideas falter. Rather than flesh out the characters and plot, the story leaps from point to point, never really building on the ideas.

In short, Card’s newest novel is too many good ideas and not enough time. The result is an average story by an above average author. Card’s intermingling of the two perspectives and their genre blending works well, setting the stage for a war between worlds. Even as the novel closes, we have only seen glimpses of the real fight, and we know that before the tale is through (this is only the first in the series), Danny will be at the center of that conflict.

Even with those glimpses, I often felt disappointed by the story-telling itself. The plot felt jumpy and lacked tension. Even on the run for his life, Danny feels more like he is meandering than fleeing. Card lets his character out of any kind of scrape that might actually threaten him, with little or no cost. At the end of the day, we all want the hero to win, but we want the win to feel like a victory, not a foregone conclusion.

Another concern I had with The Lost Gate was Card’s heavy use of info dumps. With the creation of any system of magic, an author has to explain things and fill in the reader on how things work. But Card’s info dumps were constant, going so far as to feel more like a Wikipedia entry than a piece of the story. Rather than supporting the story, the story sometimes seemed to play second fiddle to the info dumps or sudden character introductions. To be sure, the world and ideas are very interesting and very creative, but the alacrity with which Card makes stuff up to fit the situation, rather than providing all the rules upfront, makes the internal logic of the story feel contrived and inconsistent. As a result, the story hurts, even while the ideas flourish.

If that was my only complaint, the story might still have been an enjoyable experience. But problems arose when Card lets his characters talk to each other. I know, right? The audacity. But rather than move the story forward, though, the characters’ dialogue seems to get in the way. They argue and complain, bicker and whine...constantly. In one “memorable” scene, the characters seem to flip-flop between decisions they had already agreed upon just so that the dialogue can continue (and by “continue” I mean “argue”) for another page. It makes them look inconsistent and unlikeable, not to mention irritating, and it rarely does anything to affect what we can already see is going to happen next in the plot. As a result, I could not decide whether I thought a character was unlikable, or had just been poorly scripted. In the end, I rarely felt any connection with the characters, including the protagonist, Danny.

While The Lost Gate is full of ideas and potential, for me it fell flat. I found myself frustrated that I was too far into the book to put it down, but not far enough to be done.

Last comment: at the end of the novel, Card inserts an Afterword where he explains the roots of his inspiration for The Lost Gate. After thirty years, he figured out how to work the ideas together. My concern is that while it may have had its genesis 30 years ago, the book feels like it was rushed to be finished in the last month before it went to print. While Card is not G.R.R. Martin (and nobody wants to wait as long as we already do for Martin’s sequels), I do wish he would take a page out of George’s book. Slow down to redraft, rewrite, and edit. With great ideas, it’s worth the time, and I think it would make all the difference.

5/10
( )
1 vote publiusdb | Aug 22, 2013 |
The Lost Gate is a young adult contemporary fantasy. Events in the book take place roughly 'now' (no dates are given, nor any current events or people are mentioned) but all of the gods and heroes of the past were wizards from another world. Going back and forth between worlds gave the wizards most of their power, until Loki closed all of the gates to the home world. The wizard families now hide out, warring against each other and trying to stay hidden from the 'drowthers', the non magical natives of Earth. Wizards capable of making gates to the Home world are to be killed on sight - so of course a young boy of the North family is a gate wizard. He spends most of his childhood believing he has no magic at all, then learns he can make small gates. At that point he runs away from home, as his family is sworn by treaty to kill him once they know he is a gate mage.
There's no wands, no wizard schools, no wizarding communities, and there is a more developed magic system; so while it may sound similar to other contemporary young adult fantasy, it is different in significant ways. I found this interesting to read, though similiar to other Card books with a different story framework. ( )
  Karlstar | Jul 26, 2013 |
The ratings for this book seem high, so I know that I am in the minority on this one. I've read 2 other books by Orson Scott Card and enjoyed both of them. They've had good imaginative plots and make a fun story, which is why I picked this book to listen with my 12-year old son.

The Good: The story is based on ancient gods who still exist on earth with diminished powers and live mostly hidden from the rest of humanity. They are waiting for a gate mage to be born and create a Great Gate which will help to enhance their powers. The mythology and descriptions of the old gods was interesting and made for a great starting plot. Granted, ancient mythology has spun off so many series, it has almost grown in popularity to compete with the vampire books, but they are fun and even educational.

The Bad: The main character for this book is Danny North, a boy who at first seems to have no talents, but develops into a mage with immense magical power. As his power grows, I thought his personality in this book diminished. He is a 14-year old boy and other than his magical skills, showed no personality or greatness. The characters in this book seem stilted and spend too much time explaining the science behind gates and mythology. As many people mentioned, OSC commits the sin of 'telling vs. showing', and after awhile it was boring. I listened to the audiobook narration. Although I have liked both narrators - Stefan Rudnicki and Emily Scott Card - their narration was flat. Not sure if this was the writing or the audio performance, but the story was not that engaging.

The Ugly: There is a scene in the book where a married woman, physically attempts to molest Danny. The descriptions are graphic and definitely made this no longer a children's or middle grade book. Danny breaks away, but this scene is mentioned again and again throughout the book. I didn't think the scene advanced the plot or developed the character, but was a lame attempt at writing for an adolescent audience.

Overall, I have a hard time recommending this book to anyone but teenage boys -- inappropriate for younger kids and uninteresting for anyone else. ( )
1 vote jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Card, Orson Scottprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumen, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
To Phillip and Erin Absher
After all we've shared over the years,
From California to Kansas,
From Provence to Myrtle Beach,
With all the magics along the way:
This book is for you.
First words
Danny North grew up surrounded by fairies, ghosts, talking animals, living stones, walking trees, and gods who called up wind and brought down rain, made fire from air and drew iron out of the depth of the earth as easily as ordinary people might draw up water from a well.
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Book description
In the ancient world, pantheons of gods ruled over every society of man, until the trickster, Loki, sealed off the source of their power. Ever since they have been forced to live with greatly diminished power amongst the humans they used to rule.

Danny North has discovered that he has the powers of a gate mage, making him one of the most powerful members of his family of former gods. Unfortunately this earns him a death sentence. Ever since their fall, the former gods have made a pact that anyone who shows the same power as Loki, the power of a gate mage, must be killed immediately lest one pantheon be the only one to return to its former greatness. Danny must flee from his family and fend for himself in the society of normal humans while he learns to use his power and recover the greatness for all mages that Loki stole so long ago.

Meanwhile in the world of Westil, the home world of the gods, a boy has been released from his ancient imprisonment inside a tree. He has no recollection of who he is or how he became imprisoned. All he knows is that he too has the great powers of a gate mage and that he has forgotten something very important.
Haiku summary
Ye gods! Teenager

Learns about himself and his

Dangerous powers.

(legallypuzzled)

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Danny grew up in a family compound in Virginia, believing that he alone of his family had no magical power. But he was wrong. Kidnapped from his high school by a rival family, he learns that he has the power to reopen the gates between Earth and the world of Westil.… (more)

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