This review assumes you are familiar with the previous book, The Lost Gate, and will contain spoilers for it.
Normalcy seems to be the one feat that escapes Danny North. As a Gatefather, he can teleport, can out lift and run most other kids his age, can speak many languages, can listen in on conversations, and can open paths between worlds. Yet his picture of being an average high school student is shattering around him.
The Gate Thief picks up the day after Danny creates a Great Gate in the high school gym. He’s out as a gatemage to the Families and out as Nordic god to his human friends. As he races to gain some control on the situation, he finds the tangle only growing worse. In the end, he must hope the saying about the victors writing history is true and accept the help of the former Loki who has gone down in infamy as the Gate Thief.
It’s been a while since I read the first book, but I remember it being a fairly straightforward read about ancient gods’ decedents living in the modern world, and Odin’s nonmagical son runaway only to find he is the most powerful of all the mages. The Gate Thief struck me as a much more typical Card book, complete with lots of mind bending. I’m a fast reader with most books taking a few days at most, but Gate Thief took me nearly a week. You could definitely choose to gloss over stuff and still get a great adventure story, but much like the Battleroom in Ender’s Game, if you actually start trying to visualize it and follow the rules and theories behind everything, it gets hard quickly.
A fair amount of time is spent on the ancient Egyptian ideas of ka and ba, words I never expect to hear coming from the mouth of Loki. However, the Stargate-like idea of a fragmented truth about superhumans having been scattered throughout the various religions and stories of ancient cultures really works for this story. Having the two different worlds function in tandem also adds to the complicated plot, but it compliments instead of convolutes.
The best part of the story remained with Danny North and his team of human high school buddies. I love how the whole mythological world is crashing down on Danny, but he still has time to be a teenage boy, flummoxed by the girls around him. I also love how his friends step up to the plate in this book. They refused to completely abandon Danny, but they also, for the most part, went toe to toe with him refusing to allow him to play god with their lives. Even though there are significant changes in the group dynamic and eventually in the characters themselves, their ability to say no to Danny and gang up on him with their own demands were about the only thing tying Danny’s feet to the ground.
And a bracelet with a different portal attached to each charm is now high on the list of fantasy toys I wish were real.