35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I tend to read in spurts. I 'discovered' Card at the very beginning of his career, when I read Ender's Game in Analog. And I was taken by the story and wanted more. I kept up with Card through Songbird, continued buying his books and adding them to my unread piles, and occasionally dipping into them. I knew he was writing a saga entitled The Tales of Alvin Maker, but I didn't delve into them, waiting until the series was finished. But someone insisted I read Seventh Son recently, and I found myself entranced, again, with Card's vision. I forget, from spurt to spurt, just how well he writes. Here are fully-fleshed out people, with vision and pettiness mixed. Here, also, is an excellent ear for the spoken language. And most of all, here is a surprisingly clever alternate history of America, in which small magicks and hexes really work, and American Indian visions come true. It also isn't often that an alternate history takes place in the past, and makes you wish it were true.
But regardless of how clever the setting is, the people are are the most important: the family members full of love and fears; Talespinner, a man seeking his own visions and the teacher of young Alvin; devout Armor-of-God (what a wonderful name!), married into a family of magickers and unsure how to handle it; Reverend Thrower, a preacher tormented by his own temptations; and young Alvin Jr., a special boy full of magick he only begins to understand by the time this part of the story ends; and his father, filled with visions of Alvin's death by his own hands. The book is full of moral choices, without the preaching a lesser writer might force upon the reader: how one views the world, challenges to those views, what is right and wrong, and how does faith fit in, are all woven into the story seamlessly. Some of the decisions made by these interesting people will surprise you. And if you continue on, there are still more surprises coming.
The only weakness in this book is that it is obviously just the beginning of a longer epic, which is still unfinished (two more books to come). There are huge questions left unanswered, including just what is the Unmaker that Alvin almost sees, and why does water hate Alvin. But that won't stop you from wanting to go to the next book immediately.