The Gate Thief (Mither Mages Series #2)

The Gate Thief (Mither Mages Series #2)

by Orson Scott Card

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765365392
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 02/25/2014
Series: Mither Mages Series , #2
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 196,636
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.40(d)
Lexile: HL730L (what's this?)

About the Author

ORSON SCOTT CARD is the author of the international bestsellers Shadow of the Giant, Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Hegemon, and Ender's Shadow, and of the beloved classic of science fiction, Ender's Game, as well as the acclaimed fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.


Greensboro, North Carolina

Date of Birth:

August 24, 1951

Place of Birth:

Richland, Washington


B.A. in theater, Brigham Young University, 1975; M.A. in English, University of Utah, 1981

Read an Excerpt






On a certain day in November, in the early afternoon, if you had just parked your car at Kenney’s burger place in Buena Vista, Virginia, or maybe you were walking into Nick’s Italian Kitchen or Todd’s Barbecue, you might have cast your gaze up the hill toward Parry McCluer High School. It could happen. You have to look somewhere, right?

You might have noticed something shooting straight up out of the school. Something the size and shape of, say, a high school student. Arms waving, maybe. Legs kicking—count on that. Definitely a human being.

Like a rocket, upward until he’s a mile above Buena Vista. He hangs in the air for just a moment. Long enough to see and be seen.

And then down he goes. Straight down, and not falling, no, shooting downward just as fast as he went up. Bound to kill himself at that speed.

You can’t believe you saw it. So you keep watching for a moment longer, a few seconds, and look! There it is again! Too far away to be sure whether it’s the same kid or a different one. But if you’ve got someone with you, you grab them, you say, “Look! Is that a person? Is that a kid?”


“In the sky! Above the high school, look up, I’m saying straight up, you seeing what I’m seeing?”

Down comes the kid, plummeting toward the school.

“He’s got to be dead,” you say. “Nobody could live through that.”

And there it is again! Straight up!

“That’s one hell of a trampoline,” somebody says.

If you noticed it early enough, you’d see it repeated about thirty times. And then it stops.

Do you think they’re dead? I don’t know, how could anybody live through that? Should we go up and see? I’m not even sure it was people, it could have been, like, dummies or something. We’d sound so stupid—hey, you got a bunch of kids getting catapulted straight up and then smashing down again? It can’t be what it looked like. Maybe we’ll see it on the news tonight.

Three different people got it on their smartphones. Not the whole thing, but the last five or six, and one guy got fifteen of them. High quality video it wasn’t, but that actually made it more credible. All three videos got emailed to people. All three ended up on YouTube.

Lots of comments: “Fake.” “Why do people bother making crap like this?” “You can see that the lighting’s different on the flying dummies.” “Cool. Something new and fun to do with your old G.I. Joe’s.” The usual.

The local news stations aren’t all that local. Lynchburg. Roanoke. Staunton. They don’t give a rat’s ass about Buena Vista—the town never amounted to anything even before it died, that’s what people think in the big city. If those are big cities.

And the footage is so implausible, the flying figures so tiny that it wouldn’t look like anything on TV screens. Besides, the fliers were so high that at the top, all you can see is a dot in the sky, not even the mountains. So it’s sky, clouds, and a dot—makes no sense. Has to be a bird. Has to be a trick of the light. So it doesn’t get on the news.

But scattered through the world, there are a few thousand people who know exactly what could cause those kids to fly. Straight up, straight down, incredibly fast and yet no news stories about dead kids at a Virginia high school. Oh, yeah, it makes sense to them, all right.

It’s an act of a god. No, not an “act of God,” to use the weasel-out-of-it words in insurance policies. Not God. A god.

Or at least people used to call them gods, in the old days, when Zeus and Mercury and Thor and Vishnu and Borvo and Mithra and Pekelnik were worshiped wherever Indo-European languages were spoken.

Nobody called them gods anymore, but they were still around. Weaker now, because they could no longer pass through the Great Gates that used to carry them from Earth to Westil and back again, greatly magnifying their powers.

Only a gatemage could send someone from one place to another instantaneously, but there hadn’t been a gatemage since 632 A.D., when the last Loki of the Norse destroyed all the gates on Earth, disappearing through the last Great Gate and closing it behind him.

In the North Family compound, only a few miles away from Buena Vista, one of the kids spotted the longest YouTube video only a few hours after it went up on the web, and within twenty minutes the most powerful mages in the family piled into a pickup truck and headed for the high school. They knew it was Danny North who had done it, Danny the son of Odin and Gerd, a boy who had seemed to be drekka until one day he up and disappeared.

Now they knew that he hadn’t gone as far as they thought. Now they knew he wasn’t drekka at all, but a gatemage. And a strong one. Because the video didn’t show somebody suddenly appearing in the air, which is how gates usually worked. No, the flying figures could be seen as they moved upward. They were moving fast, yes, but it wasn’t instantaneous. They rose into the air, visible the whole way.

That meant it wasn’t just any gate. It was an attempt at a Great Gate. A spiral intertwining of many gates at once, rising straight up from the surface of the Earth. And even if it only reached a mile into the air, it was one more mile of Great Gate than had existed in nearly fourteen centuries.

Here’s the thing. Some of the gods on that pickup truck were heading for Parry McCluer High School in order to find Danny North and kill him. Because that’s what you did with gatemages—they brought nothing but trouble down on the Family, and if the Norths had a gatemage and allowed him to live, all the other Families would unite against them and this time they wouldn’t be allowed to survive the war that was bound to start.

The Norths had to be able to show Danny’s dead body to the other Families—it was their only hope of survival. If history had taught them nothing else, it taught them that.

But other gods on that truck had a different plan entirely. Danny’s father and mother had known perfectly well that Danny was a gatemage—it was in hopes of creating a gatemage that Gerd and Alf had married each other back before Alf became head of the Family and took the name Odin. The two most powerful mages in generations: lightmage Gerd with her power over electricity and light; stonemage Alf, with his strange new talent for getting inside the workings of metal machines. Everyone expected a child of theirs to be extraordinarily talented.

But Gerd and Alf had studied the genealogical tables and they knew that gatemages, rare as they were, came most often to couples with very different affinities. Like stone and lightning, or water and fire. And never to beastmages. So they hoped. And when Danny showed no sign of being able to do magery, or even raise a clant—even the most minimal abilities—they hoped even more. Because yes, he might have been drekka, worthless, devoid of power; but he might also be a gatemage, unable to raise a clant because his outself was fragmented into all the potential gates that he could make in his life.

And a year ago, when Danny ran away, Thor had used his clant to converse with Danny before he got too far away, and had confirmed that yes, Danny was making gates and yes, Danny finally knew what he was.

So the gods on that truck were evenly divided between those intending to murder Danny before he could make a gate and get away, and those determined to enlist his power in the service of the Family.

They got there too late. Danny had already made a Great Gate, and the Gate Thief hadn’t eaten his gates. Danny had friends—Orphans who didn’t belong to any Family—and some of them had passed through the Great Gate and returned. It made their power irresistible. The Norths were sent home in utter and ignominious defeat.

But none of them had been killed. It was a good sign that Danny and his friends had refrained from doing any serious damage. They still might be able to work something out—especially if they eliminated the faction of the North family that still wanted Danny dead. Times have changed, Uncle Zog! We can’t kill our gatemage, Grandpa Gyish!

We have to get Danny to let us pass through a Great Gate! You saw how powerful his friends became—a Cowsister took your eagle right out of the sky, Zog! A mere Cobblefriend was able to open up a rift in the ground and swallow our truck! Imagine what Odin will do with his power over metal and machinery, what Gerd will do with electricity, when they pass through a Great Gate.

And imagine what the other Families will do to us if Danny lets any of them through a Great Gate before us. No, that’s not a reason to kill him—how will we even get near him now? He’s warned, he’s ready, he’ll just gate away from us. You know the stories. The winged feet of Mercury, seven-league boots—gatemages can be gone before your attack comes close to them. Or they can suddenly appear behind you and kill you before you turn around.

Gatemages are slippery! Once they come into their power, you can’t kill them. Even if you sneak up on them somehow, passing through a gate heals any wound. We’re no threat to a gatemage. We need him—alive and on our side. So we have to talk to Danny. Appeal to his family loyalty.

And if you can’t stop trying to kill him, then we’ll have no choice but to put you in Hammernip Hill. For the good of the family.

You understand, yes, you do—you’d do it yourself. There’s a gatemage in the world, one who created a Great Gate and wasn’t destroyed by the Gate Thief. And that gatemage is our own Danny. He knows us, he grew up among us. He has roots in our garden. We need to play that up. We need to bring him back to us. Not irritate him with foolish attempts to murder him. Get it? Are you going to leave him alone? Keep him safe? Make friends with him?

Yes, you say so now, but can we trust you? Stay away from him. Let Odin and Gerd do the negotiating. Or Thor. Or Mook and Lummy. People he likes and trusts. Don’t let him see you. We want him to forget all the nasty things you did to him growing up.

*   *   *

THE NORTHS WEREN’T the only Family that spotted those YouTube videos—they were just the closest. The Illyrians, for instance, were already aware that there was a gatemage in the North Family. That’s why they were spying on the Norths constantly.

And when their own gatefinder, Hermia, went missing, their suspicions were confirmed. For a while, they thought the Norths’ gatemage had killed her—gated her to the bottom of the ocean, for instance, or out into space. But then one of their clants had spotted her, still very much alive, and she was using the gates.

Now the YouTube videos confirmed that the Norths’ gatemage was powerful—a Gatefather, able to raise a Great Gate all by himself, or perhaps drawing partly on Hermia’s abilities—and it was time to get Hermia back under Family control. Chances were good that the Norths’ gatemage could be turned, recruited into the Argyros Family. Hermia was their tool to accomplish that. To get Illyrian mages to Westil and back again.

Once mages were restored to their full power, who could stand against them?

Left to themselves for fourteen centuries, the drekka had made a mess of things, and they were only getting worse. It was time for Earth to be ruled by gods again.


Copyright © 2013 by Orson Scott Card

Customer Reviews

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The Gate Thief 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 55 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The critics have done a poor job of actually reading the book.  Kirkus Reviews fails to understand even the first chapter when they state that Danny is "plummeting up and down on his own steam."  Ahem, Kirkus: that is a reference to some events in Book 1, in which Danny accidentally makes a gate that shoots his teenage classmates up and down that he is helpless to stop.  It was a major part of the plot?  Remember?  Way to prove you have actually read the books.  Meanwhile, Publisher's Weekly mocks those of us who managed to have a little self-control as teenagers and fails to notice that Danny's self-control is not really very good at all.  I mean, my measure of hormonal self-control involves not standing there thinking, "Hmm, maybe I should move out of this person's reach," but rather actually moving and then telling the person not to do it anymore, rather than tacitly encouraging more of the same while progressively getting closer and closer to the point of no return, until it gets crossed.  They must have skipped that part.  And then Publisher's Weekly fails to notice the actually really bad consequences of Danny's heroic act, even though Wad spells a couple of them out in plain English. The positive reviews are bland, more bland, and blah.  And that is why I felt compelled to write a review.   In this book, we see the next step in Orson Scott Card's multi-series meanderings through the meaning of human relationships: the introspective relationship of the self to the self.  The explorations of this topic give us a far more "head-internal" narrative than we have seen in any of Card's recent books, which dwelled more strongly on interpersonal relationships.   What I found most compelling was how the narrators cannot be trusted to actually reveal the hidden, subconscious thoughts of the characters.  We instead experience what the characters themselves experience, including all the lies they tell themselves.  This is the first book I have read in which narrator self-deception took center stage.  In case you don't understand what I'm talking about, I'll give an example.   Danny, as another customer mentioned, repeats a refrain of only wanting to attend high school and be a normal kid.  However, if you look at his actions, it's clear that he doesn't want that at all.  If he did, he would not be acting in direct opposition to that desire at every opportunity.  In fact, judging from his actions, what he really wants is an audience to applaud him, or maybe even worshippers to worship him.  Pranks are no fun if you laugh by yourself, yes, but he delights in it whenever a mere mortal feels gratitude to him, and he flexes his muscles whenever he can, just because he can.  These are not the actions of someone who wants to be normal and blend in.  But some part of him understands this about himself, and he does start to consciously become aware of it eventually, which drives him to seek out ways to prove to himself that he is a good person.   His self-deception starts to fall apart, and he starts to question his own motives and actions.  More than that, as part of the theme of self-self relationships, Card is demonstrating that people have multiple internal realities that do not necessarily consciously know each other.  This part of the discussion of self-to-self is most blatantly covered by the revealing of the nature of Mithermage souls and gatefather/manmage powers, which are both gained from fragmenting pieces of the self.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do LOVE Orson Scott Card. I have been patiently waiting for this book and was definitely not disappointed. This book takes off right where the first book left off, so it is pretty important that you read the fist one before this (The Lost Gate). This is a great fantasy series. I would not suggest for very young readers, as it does deal with some issues of sex (Danny's new God-like status has seemed to accentuate his attractiveness to the opposite sex). So, I would suggest this for high school age kids and up. I have been reading Mr. Card's books for years. This is a great new series from him. I hated waiting for so long for this addition to the series, but after reading the note from Mr. Card about wanting (no, needing) perfection for this series, I do understand. Thank you Mr. Card for that. I hope we won't have to wait so long for the next installment. -- SPeeD
wakincade More than 1 year ago
The second book in the Mither Mages series continues the story of our young gate mage, Danny North. Aside from one small inconsistency with his name (Hal calls him "Danny North" before discovering his God-like past instead of his mortal persona "Danny Stone" that was given in the first novel), this was an exceptional book. Most people won't even notice the discrepancy. If you are a fan of urban fantasy, God-like characters, and the potential for supernatural world-wide disaster wrapped in a coming-of-age story line, this is certainly the story for you. Card continues to excel in his craft.  Highly recommended!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The storyline, by necessity I suppose, had the protagonist unbelievably (and knowingly) stumble towards actively risking world destruction. The stupidity made me want to abandon reading it, if that were in my nature. The weaving of biblical and even more ancient lore into a believable logic of "Ka" and "Ba" redeemed the poor storyline. An (actual) good writer could make this into another cult-hit and blockbuster movie, but as it stands, it's very so-so work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Orson scott card's other books were much better. The way he has danny's friends act is absurd and innapropriate. The ending to this book does not make me enthusiastic for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait until the next book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although I enjoyed this book, I did have my issues with it. First and foremost was that Card doesn't seem to understand young women, or women of any kind at all. It is evident in how he has Danny's female high school friends act. They practically beg Danny to put a baby in them because they want a "god's baby." And when Danny is "going to war" he implies that women want a baby in them when their man is going to war, it just their nature. It's ridiculous. As a young female I'm appalled. I don't know anyone in there right mind who would feel that way. Just because someone is in a position of power does not mean that women are throwing themselves at them. I'm offended by the way he develops his female characters, it's like they aren't really humans in the same sense that men are. He really seems to put them below others whether by making them weak willed and begging for male attention or by making them manipulative, conniving, and power hungry. Other then that he doesn't put much character development into them. It's almost as though he doesn't think there are any truly "strong" women. Otherwise a lot of the issues I had with the book have already been mentioned. He didn't tie up the book very well and I don't think everything was well thought out. However, I understand that it must be extremely hard to write a book and keep everything in check and make sure you have thought of everything. I just wished that he actually respected women.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever read a book from which someone had ripped out the last chapter? Well then you will know how I feel after I 'finished' the Gate Thief. There is nothing wrong with ending a book on a cliff-hanger; but the author at least needs to wrap up a few loose-ends to make you feel it was worth buying the book. My advice is skip this one and wait until the 3rd book in the series is published before you spend your hard earned money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read almost every book of his. All have been very well thought out, and well written, yet this one was messy, and seemed very choppy in the storyline. I found myself bored in thd middle of the book. It seemed like Card really tried to peice it together in the end, but it still did not really leave a good taste inmy mouth. He introduced, and developed his characters very well, but the complete product in the plotline fell shot. I expect more from him. The third book better be amazing. I appreciate him trying to rewrite the book, and no doubt made it better then it would have been, but I feel it still ruined the QUALITY of this books final product. I also feel like he drifted from time to time. Inconsistencies were found multiple times. Oh well, this series has great petential, lets see how Card finishes it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the second book in a trilogy and as such it does quite a bit of character building, and fact finding by the characters. However that said it was engrossing from beginning to end. Cannot wait fir the third book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Orson Scott Card! The first book in the series was fantastic and I've been eagerly awaiting this one. It's totally worth the wait.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the book but i think it was more about him being famous then the scifi
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
curtis kelly More than 1 year ago
I cannot even imagine how Card can think up something so unique and original yet again. He never ceases to amaze and this series does not disappoint. The characters are very real in spite of being so fanciful. The storyline suddenly accelerates. And the web of intrigue between the worlds is captivating. Thank you OSC!
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Great book!
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Lame ending