Gatefather by Orson Scott Card
Why I Chose this Book
Let’s go back some. At one point I sat and thought about the book genres that might intrigue me. I thought, “I think science fiction might be one of my favorite genres.” What are some of the best science fiction books to read? Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is one. I listened to an audio version of it and enjoyed it. I decided to check out some of Card’s other works and I believe I noticed The Lost Gate, which happened to be one of his newer works. I listened to that book not expecting too much from it and was pleasantly surprised. I followed up with the second book in the series The Gate Thief and couldn’t wait for the third.
A few months ago I checked to see if the third and final installment had been published yet and come to find out it had been three months prior. During my next available opportunity, I went to the nearest library and checked out Gatefather. I finished it in about a week and a half, reading on train rides and sometimes on the weekends. I got through it faster than I expected. It wasn’t hard to get through, though. I try to avoid checking in-depth reviews before I read a book mostly because I don’t want my review to be tainted by the opinions of others, but I did see a few. Full disclosure, based on what I saw before, I did go into this book expecting it to be mediocre, though, still holding on to hope. So, how was it?
Gatefather picks up where The Gate Thief left off. Danny North, the young great gate mage, is possessed by the Belmage also known as Set also known as “the devil.” Fortunately, Danny North gave all of his gates away to the great gate thief, Loki also known as Wad, before Set could take full possession over Danny North’s body. Meanwhile, back on Westil, King Prayard’s mistress Annonei is still inside her murder, Queen Bexoi. Eventually, Danny’s friend, Pat, devises a plan to save Danny by extrapolating reality from myth from ancient folklore involving gods who died or traveled the realm of the dead and returned. From there, the book spends most of its time exploring its religious ties and metaphysical rules of the world.
The prior two books lead to an expectation of more action and possibly an epic battle, but instead, everything is resolved with little fanfare. Conflicts are solved using the metaphysical laws established in the series. To Card’s credit, the mechanics of this world and their powers seemed to be explained and worked well enough. So much so, that it would appear that for some of it to flow so well with the previous two books that they were fleshed out way beforehand. I don’t know if this is true, but it all worked well enough. I don’t remember when I started to pay attention to this aspect in continuing stories, but I know at one point I remember starting pay attention to inconsistencies in a continuing story. I realized this was often due to a writer making it up as they go and changing or adding new elements that don’t fit too well in order to make new and exciting things. Depending on the circumstances I can understand that it’s sometimes difficult to avoid, but it’s nice to have a consistent story with consistent rules. Is retconning what they call it?
The first book, The Lost Gate, started out very promising and reminded me of Harry Potter. You know, oppressed young boy finds out that he has latent powers and presumably goes on to save the world (I stopped at book four in the Harry Potter series and movie three. I’m sure I’ll pick them back up some day.). The second book further expanded upon that world and built up to what seemed like would be an epic final chapter. Presumably, Gatefather is the final book, but it’s not that epic. Conflicts are resolved, but anticlimactically.
In this book, Card chose to focus instead on commentary of human nature, politics, and further fleshing out the spiritual/metaphysical aspect of his trilogy. I’m glad I finally was able to reach the conclusion and I don’t think it was bad. It was just “eh”.