Book 40: The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
Orson Scott Card's new book, The Lost Gate, is mashup between Valve Software's award-winning video puzzler, Portal, and Neil Gaiman's American Gods novel.
Wholly unoriginal and written in Card's breathless prose, The Lost Gate, with its wink and a nod to sex, bathroom humor and high school hijinks, will appeal to a 13-year-old boy, but that's about the extent of the audience.
The Lost Gate is the story of Danny North, who grows up in a compound in northern Virginia. His family are Norse gods -- emphasis on the small g. His father is Odin and his uncle, Thor. Everyone but Danny has some sort of magical powers.
Although as it turns out -- no surprise here -- Danny does have magical powers. He's a "gatemage," someone who is able to dissolve the boundaries of space. Create a tunnel opening here and another there and "voila" you are miles or worlds away. Plus, people who pass through such a gate are healed of any illness and their powers increase.
But, to channel Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, "oh, that's good, no that's bad."
Good because a gatemage is extremely powerful. Bad because the various families of gods scattered around the world -- Danny's included -- have vowed to kill all gatemages because of some mischief by that chief gatemage and Norse trickster, Loki, centuries earlier.
Once his powers are discovered Danny is forced to flee the family compound and Card's story begins with earnest. Danny soon forges an alliance with other magically-inclined individuals who don't belong to one of the families and who do want to put Danny's powers to use. The trouble is Danny doesn't know the first thing about being a gatemage and there's a little matter of the Gate Thief, who, for centuries, has been stealing the powers of every gatemage that surfaces.
There's a host of characters and another storyline involving a gatemage in another world. The Lost Gate is meant to be part of another book or two or three so naturally it concludes with more questions than answers.
There's far great entertainment value between Portal 2 --due out later this month -- and Gaiman's two novels, American Gods and Anansi Boys. The Lost Gate is no Ender's Game.