Friday, April 18, 2008

Book Review: Prentice Alvin


Author: Orson Scott Card

Pages: 342

Genre: Fiction/Sci Fi/

Personal Rating 3.5/5

From the back cover:
Alvin's mortal enemy, the Unmaker, has found hearts and hands willing to do its bidding, while Alvin and the Prophet's people were making their last stand. Just across the Hio River from the town of Hatrack River was the first of the slave-holding territories - and they ran south all the way to the sea.

Both the United States and Appalachee have abolished slavery, while the Crown Colonies still deal in human flesh. But the slaves know that their hope of freedom lies just beyond the river; and the daring - or desperate - have often come within the range of Hatrack River's torch. Little Peggy is now sixteen, and has seen more of the world's evil than anybody rightly should - and when she "sees" a young girl and her infant son she isn't surprised by the cruelty the slave is running from. Peggy's father takes the risk of bringing the two back to the guest house, and in doing so creates the one path in all of Peggy's possible futures that may lead to happiness for both her and Alvin.

And so when Alvin arrives in Hatrack River to take up his apprenticeship with Makepeace Smith and learn to be a blacksmith, he finds that nothing is as he expected it to be. The would-be Maker is on his own, and the works of the Unmaker are close at hand.

Orson Scott Card's Tales of Alvin Maker have created a moving fantasy world from the dream of America and the simple magics of the people who settled her. Here is a world where folk magic is as much a part of life as hard work and religion, and where the red man and the white still have hope for living in peace with the land and each other. It is a fantasy unique to literature, yet as inevitable as breathing. It is a work that will live forever in your
heart..

Thanks goodness book three was better than book two. I was worried I had signed up using Tales of Alvin Maker for the Series Challenge after reading book two but book three turned around and in my opinion headed in the right direction.

This part of the saga focused on three main characters; Alvin, Peggy and Arthur Stuart. Peggy was the torch girl who pulled the caul from Alvin's face when he was born. They are destined to marry but Peggy can "see" they Alvin is going to marry her from duty and obligation and will resent their marriage. On the day Alvin arrives in Hatrack River Peggy runs away and "opens up" new paths into the future for everyone. Ones that may even include happiness in marriage for Peggy and Alvin.

Arthur Stuart is the little mix up boy. He is the baby of the black slave girl who ran away from her white slave owner who raped her. She used black magic and gave up her life so she could literally fly far enough away that the slave hunters couldn't find her. Alvin and Arthur Stuart become very close. By the end of the story, Alvin, Arthur & Peggy's futures paths are all crossed and dependent on each other.

This story or series will not appeal to everyone. You need to enjoy Card's style and a little bit of fantasy and magic. I am enjoying the setting which is an alternative frontier America. For example there is a large river named the Hio the represents the Ohio.

Excellent first sentence: Let me start my history of Alvin's apprenticeship where things first began to go wrong.

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