Card weaves another in a chain of satisfying, teenager-pleasing fantasies.
Ced, familiar to Card fans, is the kind of unpleasant supernatural being who can really drive down real estate values in the Shire—beg pardon, in Rockbridge County, Va. There, as Card’s yarn opens, a young man is doing showoff-ish things, rocketing up a mile into the sky above Buena Vista and plummeting downward, up and down, up and down, on his own steam. These being the days of YouTube, it’ll make the news—but high schooler Danny North, the son of Odin and Gerd and thus one of the junior gods (“Nobody called them gods anymore, but they were still around”), has bigger things in mind. But, Card adds amiably, “Some of the gods...were heading to Parry McCluer High School in order to find Danny North and kill him.” And why? Well, Danny is a gatemage—and if you’ve read Card, you’ll know that a gatemage is definitely something that’ll get a war broiling in heaven. Card’s not content just to call on the Norse pantheon; Egyptians and Greeks and Romans and every other sort of deity and demideity mixes it up here, with some nice results—Danny might be a “defiant little asshole,” in the words of his gym teacher, but that’s nothing compared to one tough chick who is “Clytemnestra and Medea rolled into one.” Card has a grand old time romping around in the fields of comparative religion while letting a feud worthy of the Hatfields and the McCoys unfold, with much tongue-in-cheek humor but a touch of gore, too.
And will the world remain safe for the Aesir? This fun, inventive tale holds the answer.