It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Orson Scott Card. I think the last thing I read by him was Empire, and I hated that book. Card has always been pretty hit or miss with me. His good stuff is really good, and his bad stuff is really bad. The Lost Gate falls somewhere in the middle.
The premise of the book is interesting. Basically, the old gods from mythology were real and had power over different aspects of nature. In the middle ages, their ability to refresh their power was restricted and their descendants have been trying to straddle the line between godhood and humanity ever since. It reminded me a bit of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, but the execution of the idea was vastly different.
Orson Scott Card is a really good storyteller, so the plot moves along quickly, and the characters are engaging and varied. Danny is a good protagonist, though I don’t think he acts very consistently with his age. He’s usually much more mature and composed than he should be, and when he slips, it’s blatantly pointed out that he’s only in his early teens. That inconsistency was frustrating, though it may be intentional to show how Danny doesn’t really have a place. The secondary characters are also really well done.
The main thing that keeps the book from being really good is Card’s writing. Card’s a good writer, not great, but good. He does, however, have a tendency to put himself into his books a lot. There were a few moments in The Lost Gate where a character would be expounding on an idea and I’d realize, ‘oh, this is the author, not the character.’ It pulled me out of the story. Card isn’t the only author to do this (Heinlein and Goodkind come immediately to mind), and he’s also much more skilled at it than others, but it’s still distracting.
Overall, I liked the book. I want to see where the story goes and how the larger conflict is resolved. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and I’ve added the sequels to my queue.