Orson Scott Card has often taken aspects of LDS belief and used them to build stories: the life of Joseph Smith for the Alvin Maker series, the events of the Book of Mormon in the Homecoming saga, and so on. Card continues that trend with his Mither Mages young adult fantasy series. The first two books of the planned trilogy, The Lost Gate and The Gate Thief, have already been published, and I highly recommend them. [Some minor spoilers follow.]
The protagonist of the series is Danny North, a not-so-typical American teenager. The North family are the descendants of the Norse gods, and many of them have magical powers. There are other families descended from various other pantheons. However, the powers of modern mages are a mere fraction of what the gods of old could command, because about 1500 years ago, Loki closed all the “great gates” that allowed travel between Earth and Westil, the original planet of the gods. Travel through such a gate vastly multiplies one’s powers. Because any family that could create a great gate would instantly become more powerful than any other family, the families have a treaty that requires them to put to death any gate mages that are born, thus maintaining the balance.
Of course, every family secretly wants to have a gate mage who can make a great gate. And when Danny discovers he is a gate mage, he has to go on the run to avoid people trying to kill him. He learns to control gates, which not only allow teleportation and various other related tricks, but also healing: anyone alive who goes through a gate is instantly healed of any disease or injury (although it doesn’t regenerate lost body parts).
None of that sounds particularly Mormon. But here are some more details:
- There’s a world full of incorporeal beings who come to Earth and are born into physical bodies. Humans aren’t just smart apes: they’re the fusion of a physical body and a spiritual one.
- Following a great war in the world of the incorporeal beings, many of them were cast out of their world and onto Earth.
- The cast-out beings can’t fuse with a physical body, but they can sometimes take it over — especially when several of them work in concert. However, they can be expelled by passing the host through a gate.
- After the death of a physical body, the incorporeal being that was fused to it continues to live.
- Danny, who’s 16 or 17 by the end of the second book, wants to save sex for marriage, despite his attraction to several willing young women.
(Non-Mormon readers may find the last of those to be the most far-fetched.)
Of course, there’s a lot more to the novels, including a parallel plotline involving Loki and a devious queen on the world of Westil.
While both books are good reads, I think The Gate Thief in particular is one of Card’s best books — and the ending is so brilliantly crafted I was still marveling at it days later.