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Gate of Ivrel [Mass Market Paperback]

C.J. Cherryh , Andre Norton
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars alternate universes-a great start! Jan. 3 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
good adventure novel but not up to andre norton adventures,would recommend to any teen reader,fun but is a bit rushed at the end. Gate of Ivrel entertains.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TENSION ... that makes you beg for more Jan. 2 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This whole series, consisting of "Gate of Ivrel", "Well of Shiuan", "Fires of Azeroth", and "Exile's Gate", is my favorite of any author's, and I've read A LOT.

Cherryh's style is clean and dry, but at the same time very intense and passionate. Instead of using flowery words and melodrama to spoon-feed emotion to the reader, she uses common words and short, almost aggressive phrasing. The tension and passion and danger are drawn with a sharpness and clarity that is almost painful. A deceptively simple word or glance between these characters, whether friends or enemies, will at times bring that tension to a breathless peak, but without the expected release afterwards.

This is not an easy, exciting Harlequin-esque roller-coaster of peaks and valleys. This is a sharp ridge on a bare mountain with an occasional rock slide.

This is not a graceful Puccini aria that makes you want to weep and feel melancholy. This is avant-garde jazz where a single painfully high note is drawn out in the background for so long that you find yourself begging for a release that you fear may never come but then again do you really want it to?

It's exhausting, but in the best sense.

And about the 4th time I read the series, I found that it was funny too! It is, of course, a very dry humor, but it's there. And not a joke or eccentric comedic bit player to be seen.

It's easy to fall in love with these characters. They're very different from each other, but they're both excruciatingly familiar!

Cherryh creates the perfect male characters for a straight female audience. Cherryh's men are the kind many of us would create for ourselves. (Which is very different from the men male writers create.) Cherryh's men are capable of great valor and honor, but also of very deep emotion and affection, and self-reflection.

Also, her men often feel strong love and affection and respect for other men, without there being any sexual element to it. This is not only unique, but very difficult. The ability to create tension between male characters who love each other without it reading like sexual tension or a Sunday night "family drama" is something I rarely see. I appreciate it when I do.

My circle of friends has a shorthand way of expressing our reaction to this exhausting mix of physical danger and emotional tension, just by groaning "AAAAAHHHHGHHHHGHGHHHHHG!!!". If one of us starts off a conversation this way, another might say "Are you dying, or did you just finish a Cherryh?"
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic! Feb. 22 2006
By Louisa the Lemming - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is one of the small handfull of books which I have kept for years (decades?) and read repeatedly. It hovers just below THE LORD OF THE RINGS on the scale of great sci-fi/fantasy. Nobody who has read this book on my recommendation has been anything less than 100% pleased. Including my Mom.

Though this is the first of a series, it stands well on its own -- perfection just as it is. A real classic which can be read by people who don't usually read or like sci-fi. Loan it to your own Mom after you are finished and you will see.

The "heroine" is a traveler through space and time named Morgaine. But the entire tale is from the point of view of Vanye, a youth from a primitive and superstitious warrior culture who regards Morgaine as a witch. He is forced by a sacred oath to serve her, even though he believes that serving a witch will cost him his soul -- a LITERAL "Damned-If-I-Do and Damned-If-I-Don't" situation.

The book is science fiction, but reads like sword and sorcery, because that is how Vanye sees the world. He is a wonderful character, probably one of the BEST CHARACTERS EVER CREATED, imho. Cherryh's gift for realisticly portraying the psychology of a superstitious, obsessive, highly traumatized, warrior-caste teenager is so spot-on it is almost creepy. Morgaine isn't too shabby either.

Give it a try. I tell people to read the first three pages of Chapter One. That is all it takes to get them hooked.

Oh, and don't be misled by the the cover art. This isn't remotely cheese-cakey. The heroine wears clothes and everything.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars beginning of one of the finest SF series I've seen Jan. 22 2000
By J. K. Kelley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
_Gate_ is a great beginning to the Morgaine novels. Morgaine is an excellent heroine, breaking a lot of the lame stereotypes that lesser writers have fallen back on when it was too much effort to create a strong, unique female protagonist. If you appreciate a heroine who is all business and only fleetingly vulnerable, Morgaine is the genuine article. Vanye makes the perfect foil to her: fallible, afraid, loyal, and very human.
To give just one example of Cherryh's descriptive talents without spoiling the book, if you close your eyes and visualize when Morgaine draws her primary weapon, a shiver will probably go down your back. Rare indeed is the author who can scare you without resorting to grossness.
You could save time by ordering _Well of Shiuan_, _Fires of Azeroth_, and _Exile's Gate_ at the same time you order this one. If you order this one you are going to want the other three anyway.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Heartfelt, Intense...and one EXTREME sword!!! Sept. 19 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I have been a fan of fantasy for years now. The Morgaine Cycle is my favorite. It's an intense epic and I still get giddy at my favorite parts. There is more feeling and tension in one of C.J. Cherryh's conversations than I have read in some 6-book series. She creates worlds with these amazingly real characters stuck right in the middle. Morgaine and Vanye are very well matched as comrades, with a twist or two... I love that Ms. Cherryh gives them so many facets and even insecurities. I find it refreshing that even world-weary Morgaine doesn't have all the answers. And Vanye is easily the most convincing male character that I've ever read. The swordfights are breathtaking and it's easy to tell that Ms. Cherryh knows her horses. She has such incredible attention for details. It may sound pathetic, but as a potential writer, my ultimate goal is to write a series half as great as this partcular C.J. Cherryh original.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Epic with Female Swordfighting Heroine Aug. 5 2012
By Lisa Shea - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gate of Ivrel by C. J. Cherryh was recommended to me by a friend who knows I actively seek out stories with strong heroines who wield a sword. This novel definitely qualifies!

First, the good. The story drew me in right away. I was intrigued by the sci-fi aspect of the gates, and the idea of a dedicated team of people who sacrifice their lives to see the portals destroyed. I liked the idea of a medieval style world embroiled in the chaos and war that these gates caused. I enjoyed how, just like in Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, and many other similar epics, we have a variety of cultures each with their own motivations and intersests. We have the few-structures-nature-living group. We have the high-honor-castle-living group. We have other groups with unique personalities. That's always enjoyable in a story.

The heroine, Morgaine, is certainly strong and wise. She's able to protect herself. She also has flaws, which is good to keep a story real. I admit I wish she wasn't the romance-novel-cliche of being so drop dead beautiful that every man who sees her has to have her. The hero, Vanye, also is a bit cliche with his perfect fighting and perfect muscles.

The book does well with plot, catching you up in all the layers of what is going on and wondering what is going to happen next. I stayed up all night in order to finish it and see how it ended.

Now, that all being said, there were some issues.

First, the book sets itself up to be a long, multi-book epic. It's clear in how it's worded and how it ends. This is fine in theory, but instead of rolling out the characters and history in a way readers can absorb, it's dumped in a massive pile that one would need to map out a family tree and relationship map to be able to keep track of in the prologue. That leaves the reader with the task of spending a while memorizing all the names in case some are important soon, or just ignoring the whole lot as "non-important filler" and moving on with the story. I hate to read-and-ignore content. To me, if an author presents something, it's because it's important. So working those details smoothly and gradually into the story is key for me.

Next, there are some fascinating cultures in here, but we get only bare descriptions of them. We get a skim of what they're like, without the beautiful underlying foundations that we see for example in Lord of the Rings. The same with characters. We get the "mad king". And then there's the "malicious king". For all that we have a great heroine, she's it for women. Somehow the rest of the world only has females who are prostitutes. Or obnoxious little girls.

Lots of little mistakes were made that editors should have caught. The use of "thee" and related language is wrong which is continually jarring. From Shakespeare, it should be: "Seest thou this letter? Take it up, I pray thee." An example from the Bible: "Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast fashioned me as clay; And wilt thou bring me into dust again?"

The progression also makes it hard to visualize what is going on at times. We're barely told that the hero, Vanye, has had a manhood ceremony in the past - but that's about it. Does that mean he's 13? 15? The only real clue we ever seem to get is the cover, and that is so outrageously off on the heroine's outfit (putting her only in a bikini as a trained warrior) that it's hard to imagine it's very accurate.

Finally, for a book all about a sword-fighting woman and her sword-fighting man, there's very little detail about the sword-fighting in here! It seems more a convenient skill to get them out of scrapes than a real aspect of their characters that's covered in the book. We hear more about how he cuts his hair.

Still, I did like the interweaving of their codes of honor, and their challenges of loyalty. I love stories that cover those things. I enjoy strong female characters, and we certainly have one here. However, usually there is a male character worthy to be at her side. Here, he seems more like a fifteen year old boy. Yes, he was raised in a certain culture, and I wholeheartedly understand that. But even there, the way he acts seem to lack a level of wisdom / maturity in some scenes. Men in medieval times had to grow up quickly - and especially men in the position Vanye was in. He seems a bit too naive to be believable.

Still, clearly the story did suck me in, and I cared about the characters. I wish an editor had done a more thorough pass at the book to clean up some of its issue and encourage the author to provide more layers in some areas. It's as if they didn't trust the readers to be able to handle the larger level of detail, but absolutely we can. One only has to look at the great success of other similar novels to see that.
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