The Lost Gate

Mither Mages #1

by Orson Scott Card
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Danny seems like an ordinary boy. He’s smart, he enjoys long-distance running, and he teases his younger cousins. But among the North family, where children are expected to create fairies or speak with animals, “ordinary” is an embarrassing curse. Danny is a pariah among his own family until he realizes that he has one of the most powerful gifts that exist. The only problem is, people with this gift are so powerful that the law calls for their death.

Danny flees his home and goes to live with the non-magical druthers, who he has watched from a distance his entire life. As he learns to live with these people, he must explore his powers and test the boundaries of what he can do. According to legend, there is another world that used to be connected with Earth. Danny might be the only person alive who can reestablish this lost connection, but unknown consequences may be triggered by such an act.

The Lost Gate is not meant for the same age group as Card’s well-known Ender’s Game. Due to a large amount of adult language and explicit sexual content, this book borders on the edge between the Young Adult and Adult genres. Due to this high level of adult content, this book may be unsuitable for most teens.

Sexual Content

  • Danny gets his cousins in trouble accidentally. The cousins were particularly annoyed because Danny’s inquiry had led to Auntie Tweng finding their files of pornography.”
  • Danny tries to teach his cousins, but they insist on messing around. “The miniature female bodies they were forming out of fallen twigs, leaves, and nutshells were shaping up with huge breasts and exaggerated hips. Forest fairies, a drowther would have called them. Or sluts . . . all two of the forest fairies turned to face him. Two of them flaunted their chests; the other turned around, thrust her buttocks toward him, and waggled it back and forth.”
  • A man sees a naked person. ” ‘Is that a dingle or a dong?’ whispered Father. ‘Is he a man yet or not?’ “
  • When Danny is accused of shoplifting, a detective asks him to turn out his pockets and lift up his shirt. Danny asks, “You like to look at the naked bodies of little boys?”
  • A guy asks Danny if he is going to, “Look for some nice man who’ll give you a good place to live as long as you let him do a few little—?”
  • Bexio marries King Prayard. “Prayard gave every outward respect to his wife, even to the sharing of her bed at least once in every month; her lack of children was blamed entirely on Bexoi’s barrenness and not on lack of effort by Prayard.”
  • When asked to turn out his pockets by a pair of security guards, Danny takes his clothes off and gives them to the security guard. “I’m letting you examine my clothes for yourself . . . so I don’t have you putting your hands all over me,” Danny said. Then he, “turned his back to them, bent over, pulled down his tighty-whiteys, and spread his butt cheeks.”
  • Danny meets, “a woman—no, a girl of about sixteen—wearing a man’s oversized white button-up shirt . . . and quite possibly nothing else, which Danny found distracting. He couldn’t take his eyes off her, yet felt he had to look almost anywhere else.”
  • Eric asks if, “girls [are] all born with the ability to rip your balls off with a look?”
  • Lana is horny and crazy. She tells Eric, “I could have unzipped your pants instead of talking.”
  • Lana makes a pass at Danny. “She brought her face very close to Danny’s and locked her arms around his waist. Now her breasts were pressed against him and her breath was right in his nose and mouth and her lips were brushing his as she talked. ‘Jailbait boy, why aren’t you kissing me yet?’ . . . she basically rode him down onto the carpet . . . The pertinent fact, however, was that she was straddling him, and he was feeling things that he’d never felt before . . . She knelt up higher, reached behind and between her own thighs, snaked her fingers into Danny’s waistband on both sides, and started to pull down his pants and underwear . . . ‘Help me get her off him before she rapes him,’ said Eric to Ced.”
  • Eric jokes about bestiality, “Danny’s from the farm, he just wasn’t used to doing it with girls . . . Come on, you can’t tell me you didn’t get some quality time with that special ewe.”
  • Ced says, “She just has trust issues with men. Her mother had a lot of boyfriends and if they paid extra, she threw in Lana as a bonus.” When he hears this, Danny “wasn’t quite sure what Ced meant. Or rather, he was, but he couldn’t believe such a thing could be true.”
  • Danny thinks about how stupid he is. “SO stupid that when I just realized that I’d probably get killed, my only thought was to wish Lana would come up here and hump my brains out before I die.”
  • Ced jokes about ejaculation. ” ‘You know I hate being tickled!’ Lana screamed in his face. ‘Well, maybe the kid hates being half-raped,’ Ced answered mildly. ‘So now you’re even.’ ‘Now I have to change my pants!’ she said. ‘Bet he did, too,’ said Ced.”
  • A man checks Danny and his friends to see if they’re wired. “Yeah, well, you’re clean enough. You, George, drop trou or I’ll feel you up and maybe I’ll accidentally hurt your nads for calling me a perv.”
  • When Danny thinks about what he could do with his gates, “he had darker thoughts, ones he was ashamed of. If he wanted a career as a peeping tom, he could do it from his own bedroom and no one would ever know.”
  • Veevee says, “I’ve never been so happy to find out that another person existed since my mother first put her titty in my mouth.”
  • Stone guesses that Lana will, “probably become a secretary, seduce the boss, break up his family, and then make his life a living hell till he divorces her . . . But if he can’t keep his fly zipped, he’s the natural prey of angry damaged women who are careless about underwear.”
  • Danny tells a girl at his school that, “for a girl who doesn’t care if anybody likes her, you sure go to a lot of effort to show off cleavage,” and “I’ll be studying your cleavage all year.”


  • Danny’s existence breaks a treaty so, “if he screwed up and got caught, [his family] would have killed him and still would kill him just as quickly as anybody else.”
  • Danny said if someone was caught fooling around with a sheep, “Grandpa Gyish would have him killed. Great-uncle Zog would do it himself . . . And then they’d bury him in the family graveyard on Hammernip Hill.”
  • When Danny is burgling a home, he finds a trap door. “A horrible smell rose from the hole. He knew the smell. A dead animal . . . [he] found what he was halfway expecting—four bodies lying tied up on the floor. The man was the one who stank—bullet hole through his forehead, and his body was rotting. But the other three—one white woman, one black woman, and a white pre-teen girl—were not rotting. They weren’t conscious either, however, and Danny guessed that they had been here a pretty long time without water—long enough for the husband to start stinking.”
  • Eric loves breaking into people’s homes. “To be inside a stranger’s home, while they’re there asleep, knowing you didn’t trip any alarms . . . you can go wherever you want, take whatever you want. You’re like an angel, you’re so powerful . . . Yeah I walked around a little. Took a couple of things. Looked at a couple of girls who slept naked on a hot night. Who wouldn’t?”
  • Lana threatens to “kill you, you little prick,” with a table knife. Danny is pretty sure she is joking.
  • When Danny threatens the safety of some mages, Stone slaps him. “To Danny’s shock, Stone slapped him across the face— Danny staggered to the side and he couldn’t help it that tears came to his eyes.”
  • Danny and Eric are attacked by a criminal. “Eric was right behind him, but then he heard a cry of pain and a thud and he whirled around to see Eric sprawled on the floor, writhing in agony, and Rico just unwinding from a massive swing of the bat . . . ‘Hold still and take your medicine,’ said Rico, ‘Or I’ll just keep smacking your buddy’s head till it pops like a melon.’ “
  • Eric chews a man’s thumb off. “Eric had twisted himself into position to gnaw on Rico’s right thumb. It was spouting blood, which was pouring out of Eric’s mouth. He had a feral look in his eyes . . . He was growling like a dog, like a bear. Then he fell backward and spat out the thumb. And spat again and again, trying to get the blood out of his mouth.”
  • Leslie points out that Danny, “could gate your way into my chest and pull my heart out right now. Or squeeze it hard and make it stop.”
  • Danny witnesses an assassination. “Then he gripped the top of her head and pushed the needle-like blade into her eye, then churned it around the fulcrum of the hole in the bone through which the optic nerve would pass . . . When Luvix drew out the blade, a spurt of blood followed it, and brain and eye matter seemed to cling to it.”
  • Hull is killed for knowing too much. “She stepped into the darkness of her room, holding no candle because she knew the place by heart. She only heard one breath, one step, and then the dagger was in the top of her spine, just under the neck. Which whack, back and forth, and she felt no pain as she dropped to the floor . . . Alone in the dark, her brain starved from lack of air, and without pain or even fear, Hull died.”
  • A woman is stabbed. “The soldier stabbed into the cave with his pike . . . Her bleeding body tumbled from the cave mouth toward the lake.
  • Wad’s son is killed. “He found Trick’s body smothered under the gown of the last nurse who had been on duty . . . For a moment he thought of a terrible justice: putting the body of his son back into Bexoi’s womb, to share the space with his half-brother, only a month away from birth . . . the body would decay and rot inside her, and soon wreak vengeance on his monstrous mother and his usurping wombmate.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • Ced says, “I told you to just walk in, morons. Anybody rings the bell, we assume it’s the law. I was this close to flushing my stash.”
  • Ced smokes a joint.
  • Eric hides his money from his family because” ‘They’d just drink it up.’ ‘What’ll you do with it?’ asked Danny. ‘New clothes. A bus ticket. And then I’ll eat and drink the rest till I have to start begging again.’ “
  • A man tries to kill a queen with a vial of poison. Later, the queen uses that poison to kill the assassin’s co-conspirator.
  • The queen tried to trap Wad with poison. “Queen Bexoi engulfed the wooden doll in unnatural flame that created bitter smoke. The doll had been painted with something, and the smoke from its burning dulled his mind.”


  • Bastard is said several times. When Danny leaves his family, he thinks, “Well screw you, all you cheap murdering bastards. If you think I’m ever coming back, think again.”
  • The words crap, shit, and damn are said often. For example, a detective tells Danny to “Put your damn pants back on!” Eric says he, “Came back for Christmas. Say hi to my mom, tell my dad to eat shit and die.”
  • Bullshit and Asshole are used several times. Eric tells his friend that, “Your stepdad isn’t the only asshole on planet Earth.”
  • Hell is said a few times. Eric tells Danny, “You must be one hell of a lucky thief to get away with all this on your first try.”
  • Lana says, “. . . on Wednesdays I’m such a slut.”


  • “School was something the children endured in the mornings, so they could spend the afternoons learning how to create the things that commoners called fairies, ghosts, golems, trolls, werewolves, and other such miracles that were the heritage of the North family.
  • People born to magic families who lack magic are called drekka, which is a derogatory term. None magical people are called drowther.
  • People with magic have affinities with certain elements or animals. “His father, Alf, a Rockbrother with an affinity for pure metals, had found a way to get inside the steel of machines and make them run almost without friction, and without lubrication . . . Danny’s mother . . . [was] a lightmage who had learned to change the color of reflected light so that she could make things nearly invisible, or hide them in shadows, or make them glow bright as the sun.”
  • Danny thinks about when magical families lived like gods. “When the Westilian families ruled the world as gods of the Phrygians, the Hittites, the Greeks, the Celts, the Persians, the Hindi, the Slavs, and of course the Norse, the lives of common people were nasty, brutish and short . . . The world would be better if there had never been such gods as these. Taking whatever we wanted because we could . . . who did we think we were?”
  • Danny can make gates in space that lead from one place to another—
  • A boy lives in a tree for several centuries. “The bark didn’t tear, it merely opened, or not even that, it simply receded so that his face emerged as if from water.”
  • Danny considers manmagic, “truly evil. To take possession of the mind and body of another human being? That would be slavery. Not that anybody would mind if one of the Family did such a thing to drowthers.”
  • Danny and his parents theorize that spacetime (everything in the causal universe) is a prankster. Danny believes he serves spacetime by being a jokester and a prankster.
  • Westilians can create clants, which are bodies they control. Some look like fairies made out of twigs, but some can create “a perfect image . . . Wad marveled at how smoothly and gracefully it moved.”

Spiritual Content

  • When Danny runs away from home, he steals clothes and shoes from Walmart.
  • Danny and Eric make money by begging and stealing.
  • Danny thinks, “The god of these Americans wasn’t one of the old pantheons of the Norths or the Greeks or the Indians . . . The god was the people themselves. Imagine—a nation that worshiped each other. Not individually, but as an idea.”
  • When Danny finds a family tied up, he calls the police. But Eric says, “They’ll never recover from the experience, their lives will be shitty, they’ll wish they had died, so what exactly did you accomplish?” Danny argues, “If I hadn’t called the cops it would have been the same thing as murdering them myself.” Eric says, “No, it wouldn’t . . . It would be the same thing as never going into the house and therefore not knowing.”
  • Danny doesn’t kill a criminal, but he allows the criminal’s partner the opportunity to kill him. The partner takes the opportunity.
  • Veevee finds a gate inside a church. She mentions that if she went through it, then the pastor would “probably interpret it as some kind of heavenly visitation. Those Semitics are so eager to believe that their gods are still talking to them.” Danny says that he, ” ‘always thought their God was . . . ‘ ‘Really God?’ she prompted, amused. ‘A myth. Like Santa Claus,’ ” Danny replies.
  • A girl accuses Danny of healing her. “Wow,” Danny says, “For a girl named Sin, she’s doing pretty well with faith healing.”

by Morgan Lynn

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