26 January 2016

2016 Books in Review: Gatefather by Orson Scott Card

The Mither Mages trilogy started off wonderfully with The Lost Gate and continued well with The Gate Thief. These first two volumes were the usual Orson Scott Card mix of philosophy, theology, fantasy, science fiction, and excellent characterization of the main actors in the plot. This series in particular leans more toward the theology and fantasy side of his spectrum, a curious mix of American Gods and original themes that make for interesting reading. Or listening, which is what I did for the first two volumes (is it me, or do some of you read all of OSC's work in Stefan Rudnicki's voice?).

Unfortunately, Gatefather does not live up to the promise of the first two episodes of the series. It's still good, mind you, but it's the sort of good that leaves you wondering what will happen next but not NEEDING TO KNOW what happens next. Given where The Gate Thief left off (no spoilers, fear not), the potential for a really great story was set up about as well as one could hope. That potential was not fulfilled, and thus the book is a disappointment.

Without giving away too much of the plot, let's say that Danny North and his band of misfit friends wander about and don't really accomplish anything of note, while Wad/The Gate Thief comes in and out of the story and also doesn't do much of anything. This is probably the most damning thing about the book - just a few weeks after I finished it, I don't really remember what happened beyond "the crisis was resolved." No details beyond some interesting political intrigue involving Wad and the mistress of the King in their world and some sort of detente between Danny North and the Bel god who appeared to be such a frightening specter in the first two episodes. There's still a fair amount of good in the novel: an interesting investigation into death and how the "gates" of the series work, the ethical and philosophical dilemmas which always contribute so much to OSC's novels, and the humor of a group of adolescents with far too much power and a closely held secret. But it's not nearly as good as its predecessors, and that's a shame, because they were very good.

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