Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Orson Scott Card’s Lost Gates and Gate Thief

April 04th, 2013 by G.

I just finished Gate Thief, the second book is Card’s Mithermage trilogy. The first book was a lot of fun. The second book–I don’t recommend it, unless and until the last book comes out and gives us an idea whether the series as a whole is worth reading.

Nearly every SF and fantasy author has a problem with second books. Card’s problem seems worse. His only second book that didn’t drop off badly was Red Prophet. (I don’t count Speaker for the Dead as a second book, nor Ender’s Shadow. But if you count those, then you’d say that Card’s second books either drop off badly or not at all).

The main problem in Gate Thief is the main problem in Xenocide/Children of the Mind and Ruins: Card invents a fictional Orson Pratt metaphysics and gets enamored with it at tedious length. This obviously does no good for the action and the plot, so he then juices up the story with *very* adolescent bickering between the main characters. Ugh.

What galls is that in the afterword Card reveals that he had a (much more interesting, in my opinion) story in mind involving a war of the gods. But he junked it, he said, because he’s a more mature writer now. Back when he was writing callow works like Treason he probably would have stuck with it, he said. Alas, Treason was a much better book than Gate Thief.

Comments (6)
Filed under: Deseret Review | Tags: ,
April 04th, 2013 11:27:15
6 comments

Zen, Herald of the Almighty
April 4, 2013

Card has many strengths, and some weaknesses as you point out, but a superior author (and also LDS) is Brandon Sanderson. I got into reading him because of Card actually. But I would say, he is the best fantasy author since Tolkien. And unlike Card, he excels at endings.

Unlike a lot of fantasy, both religion and deification tend to play a role in his book, and in very original ways. His Mistborn Trilogy was fantastic – imagine the kind of world we would have if Gandalf had taken and kept the Ring. I am reading, and re-reading The Way of Kings, the first in what will be a 10 book cycle. The book starts with an order of 10 Heralds, with armor and swords that put Tony Stark and Luke Skywalker to shame, who just can’t take it any more, and leave it all behind. Betrayal and honor, in starker relief than I have read many other places. If Tolkien wrote about the Apostasy, then this is the Restoration. http://www.brandonsanderson.com/book/the-way-of-kings


Adam G.
April 4, 2013

I like Sanderson quite a bit. But he has some progressive assumptions I don’t cotton to, and his magical rules are sometimes too quasi-scientific for my fantas stastes. Still, you’re reminding me that I haven’t read his latest, so I will trot out to get it.


Zen
April 4, 2013

Adam – your statement about his progressive assumptions perplexes me, as I am usually pretty sensitive about this sort of thing.


Adam G.
April 4, 2013

Zen,
its been awhile and I’m not going to stick to my guns on that assertion. What I recall is leaving off the series where people stick spikes in their head because of some dubious stuff on sex–the identity, not the act– and another book–something to do with a princess from a mountain valley or something–that struck me as unsavorily pacifist and suspicious of established order.


Zen
April 5, 2013

I remember the iron spikes, but it has nothing to do with sex, nor was it very voluntary. [Mistborn]

Said princess from a mountain valley [Warbreaker], the kingdom was outnumbered 10,000 to 1, with a belligerent neighbor. Under those conditions, a bit of pacifism is not surprising. But in general, “unsavorily pacifist and suspicious of established order” is not an accurate assessment. The book ends far more supportive of the established order than I would have ever guessed.


Adam G.
April 5, 2013

Fair enough.

One note: I was using the spikes to identify the series. I don’t recall any particular connection between the spikes and sex (gender).

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