Book Critique: The Gate Thief (Mithermages #2)

For review of all books in this series: Go here

Stars: 4.5 / 5

Recommendation: Mythology, History and the everlasting theme of good vs evil between Super powers and Gods / Demi-Gods - all packaged into this clever little plot with teenagers again at the helm of saving the worlds.

The Gate Thief is the second book in the Mithermages trilogy written by Orson Scott Card and published in March of 2013. The plot revolves around Danny North, belonging to a Westil family living in western Virginia in a rambling family compound. The plot is set in modern world but with gods and demi-gods living by the side of humans.

After Danny North beat the Gate Thief aka Wad aka Loki at his own game and steals all Wad's gates, leaving Wad with only a few set of Gates, Danny realizes that he is indeed a powerful gatemage, A GateFather. Yet here on Earth he still is in high school, trying to be a normal student whilst also learning about the powers he has now and fighting off the families who want to kill him. While on Westil, Wad after nearly becoming powerless, struggles to use his left-over power to take his revenge on his enemies at Westil whilst trying to form a bond with Danny. For Wad knows that there is far more bigger evil than Westil or Earth that they might have to one day fight.

Thus continues the fantasy worlds of mithermages by Orson Scott where he takes the readers into the lives of both Danny North on Earth and Wad on Westil, giving us glimpses of their powers and at the same time showing us that they are at the core a teenager demi-god and a Norse god. 

In the first book, Orson Scott talks about Lost Gates, Gatemages and Gatemagery. Aptly enough in the second book he covers about The Gate Thief, although it would leave the reader wondering who would be the gate thief in the end for real.

He summarizes the life of a teenager perfectly well with all the hurdles than an adolescent would face. Took me back to my days of adolescence except there was no magic or demi-gods involved in my life. Jokes apart, Danny North became truer and truer as the plot progressed.

Orson Scott also shows the despite what worlds think of Loki, he has another side that perhaps is what his true self is. He isn't also as powerless as he seems and with surprising ethics contrary to his fame.

In this second book, Orson Scott throws almost everything at the teenager Danny - strained friendships, adolescent feelings towards girls, trust and betrayal, dealing with his family and other families and above all dealing with the Gods and the greater evil. So much goes through the teenager's life that sometimes as a reader I felt overwhelmed. I wonder if Orson Scott felt so too.

Orson Scott delves into the complexities of one's mind and their inself and outself react and work. A whole chapter he dedicates to in which he shows how Danny North finally understands his gates that are within him or at least manages to make sense of them. For a book catered towards young adults, I felt that this was a whole lot more than the capability of their age and mind. But again, young minds are sponges and perhaps they would soak it better than an adult mind.

Another enchanting and exiting adventure that the readers follow along with Danny North and Wad between two worlds leaving readers wanting to read more and more.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Danny North creates gates that take people to interesting places, specially the wrong people. One such gate would take the person to The Awakening Statue. I wasn’t sure if this existed for real. A quick google search indeed confirmed that this statue exists and it is located at National Harbor in Prince George's County, Maryland, USA. More about the statue here. However, the statue reminded me of the 2008 American superhero movie Hellboy II: The Golden Army. In that movie, there is a scene in Ireland where a similar sculpture comes alive opening doors for Hellboy and his team to enter. Not sure if the movie sculpture was real though. More about the movie here.

b. Danny North muses about a game called Hot and Cold, where when the people in the game yell, "Warmer, warmer, hot, hot, cold, cold" based on how near or far the searcher is close to the hidden object. I remember playing this game as a child too. However never knew that it was called as "Hunt the Thimble". More about that game here.

2. Interesting words that Orson Scott Card uses in the book, that I understood them as closely as possible per the context used as I was reading. However someone has gone on to create a Wiki of characters and words in the Mithermage Series. Here is the link to that.

3. Orson Scott mentions several literary works that are related to works of gods or written by gods and movies that bring out a lot imagination of human mind in this plot:

a. Cedric "Ced" Bird, a friend of Danny North and a Windmage, remembers a variation of a quote by Rodney Dangerfield, an American stand-up comedian and actor - I'm not a fighter, I'm a lover. This is from his 1986 American comedy film Back to School (More about the movie here.) Per Ced (and per the Orson Scott), he was a man who got no respect. I wondered about that and on doing a little google search I found that "I don't get no respect!" was his catchphrase and more than often his monologues were around that theme. He seemed a great actor. However what left me confusing was did he get his share of respect or not. Perhaps he did, perhaps he didn’t; but that quote has stuck for all eternity now.

b. Orson Scott mentions a quote by Shakespeare from his Sonnett 116 "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds", however he relates it to Sense & Sensibility. I was confused for a while until I googled to find that the very same quote was used in the 1995 American period drama film, Sense & Sensibility, based on the book of the same name by Jane Austen. Infact Kate Winslet playing the character of Marianne Dashwood in the movie recites the first 6 lines of the sonnett in the movie. I don’t remember however, if Jane Austen has it in her book though. Now this is making me want to watch the movie as well as read the book all over again. For more about the film, go here. For more about the Sonnett, go here.

c. Orson Scott also brings in a scene from Superman II where Zod makes the President kneel in the Oval Office. I haven't watched the 1980 British-American Superhero movie Superman II, however I recently watched 2013 British-American film The Man of Steel and there is a scene similar to this but it is on planet Krypton where General Zod has Jor-El father of Superman kneel down in front of Krypton's supreme council. Oh I love Superman, one of my favorite superhero characters.

4. Sub-Plots:

a. North Family compound has many family members aka demi-gods, that are either supportive of Danny or resent him - Grandpa Gyish, Great-uncle Zog, Aunt "Lummy" Lumtur and Uncle Mook and their daughter Megan, Uncle Poot, Auntie Tweng, Auntie Uck, Thor and his sons - Lem and Stem, Danny's half-brother Pipo and half-sister Leonora.

b. Different Wesilian Families that had rules the world as Gods were - the Phrygians, the Hittites, the Greeks, the Celts, the Persians, the Hindi, the Slavs and the Norse.

i. However, the Persian family had been wiped out by Tamerlane or Timur - the 14th century Mongol conqueror. More about him here.

ii. The Sanskrit family lived in the lower reaches of the Himalayas and were quite poor and shabby just like the North family.

iii. The Greek family, Ilyrians, prospered due to the plethora of seamages or poseidons they had. Some of the members consists of Valbona, Agon, a little girl Yllkaof aka Hermia about eleven or twelve years.

iv. The Argyros Family

v. The Hittites - A family thought lost was indeed hidden all this time.

c. Kingdom of Iceway, a kingdom that is in a different world on a different planet.

i. Ruled by King Prayard lived in his castle of Nassassa along with his wife Bexoi (sister to their rival king, Jarl of Gray), his concubine Anonoei, his sons by Anonoei (Eluik and Enopp),

ii. Highvalley family near the Icekame - Roop, Levet and their kids Eko (oldest girl of eleven), Immo, Bokky and three other children. During one of their trips into Forest Deep behind Icekame, Eko and her father Roop end up rescuing a man in the tree who had been there for centuries. He reaches the Nassassa castle and is named Wad.

5. Different kinds of mages Orson Scott educates the reader in the plot:

a. Beastmages - Eyefriend or Clawbrother or Clawsister or Cowsister (ability to roam the world in animal form), Feathergirl or Sparrowfriend or Hawkbrother (who has basic ability to talk with birds)

b. Gatemages - Pathbrothers / Pathsisters or Lockfriends (one who had ability to create paths and unlock doors when needed); Gatemage / Gatefather / Gatemother (One who can create gates to move from one place to another on earth, also have healing abilities); Keyfriend (One who could reach through already made gates).

c. Seamages / Watermages - Seamage (One who has ability to make their ships prosper and never sink); Wavebrother (a seamage with power to make currents flow where needed), Tidefather (powerful seamage who can invest their outself in a particular current so it can flow in whatever way they want as long as they lived); Puddlekin; Watersire; Damward; Tempester

d. Windmages - Galebreath (one who can turn away an unwanted storm)

e. Stonemages - Rockbrother (One who has affinity for pure metals); Siltbrother (One who could improve soil); Cobblefriend (who can find rich ores for miners); Muckminder; Claymistress; A powerful stonemage usually has ability to get into metal machines;

f. Treemages - Meadowfriend (one who can aid in harvests), Sniffer (one who can sniff out gates); Treefriend; Seedservant; Rootherd;Thornmage

g. Firemages - Firemaster or Lightrider (one who can create flame with nothing); Lightmage (Who can change the color of reflected light to make things near invisible, has power over light and electricity)

h. Mammage - Mage who can instill emotions on others, control and manipulate their feelings.

6. Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. On Pg. 111, line 24, it should be "…will be better off if…"

b. Finally the confusion on the time period that passes in the first book, Lost Gate, (My review of the book here) is resolved here. It is shown that Danny is 16 years old, which is three years after the story begins in the first book.

c. On Pg. 382, line 28, it should be "Zod" instead of "Zog". The author definitely got it wrong when it came to the name of the fictional villain from planet Krypton in the Superman comic book.

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