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Alvin Journeyman (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 4) Mass Market Paperback – September 15, 1996

3.9 out of 5 stars 66 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The legal thriller wave laps at the shores of fantasy fiction in this fourth novel (after Prentice Alvin) in Card's popular series about natural-born mage Alvin Smith, who's the seventh son of a seventh son, and the magical early America in which he lives. Also returning are Alvin's equally talented brother Calvin, who's a scoundrel, the mixed-up little boy Arthur Stuart and Alvin's ladylove, Peggy Larner. Hatred of his brother and boundless ambition prompt Calvin to run off to England, where he meets an English barrister who so embarrasses him by seeing through his lies that he moves onto France, hoping to learn the arts of manipulation under the tutelage of Napoleon Bonaparte himself. Meanwhile, Alvin must leave his beloved town of Vigor Church because of a lovesick young girl's lies. Returning to Hatrack River, where he was born, he becomes embroiled in a trial for his life. Unfortunately, much of the novel's action stops during the trial, as Alvin languishes in his cell and Card jabs at lawyers and the justice system. The courtroom scenes prove something of a procedural joke, with truth finally served only because Alvin uses his magic to make everything come out right. This parable bogs down in its own folksiness, but fans of Card, who's won both the Hugo and Nebula awards, may love it dearly. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?At last, Book IV of this terrific series. Set in an alternate history, Card's frontier America is a land where wives' tales are fact and magic- in the form of hexes, beseechings, and "knacks"- really works. Alvin has the most powerful knack of all; he is a Maker, with power over the physical world. In this installment, he ignores a prophetic warning and falls victim to the manipulations of The Unmaker, an ancient enemy that seeks anarchy. While embroiled in a legal dispute that places him in jail, Alvin draws to him the people who will assist in his quest to build the Crystal City of his vision. Alvin Journeyman is the springboard for this quest that will be played out in future volumes. Knowledge of previous titles is beneficial, so be sure to have copies available of Seventh Son, Red Prophet, and Prentice Alvin.?Robin Deffendall, Bull Run Regional Library, Manassas, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Alvin Maker (Book 4)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (September 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812509234
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812509236
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #428,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Many other reviews here seem to be highly praising, but I found this fourth installment of Card's clever, original series a big disappointment. Nothing really happens except a lot of chatting and repitition. How many times do we have to hear the plot of "Red Prophet" and "Prentice Alvin" restated? The former was a bit preachy, the latter more exciting; I enjoyed both but didn't need to hear their stories repeated in almost every chapter, it seemed.
Moreover, I kept waiting for the stupid trial to end so everyone could get on with the story and actually DO something but when the trial ended so did the book!
The book wasn't terrible, however--Card always writes with skill and a unique voice (though he rambles in ways a beginning author could never get away with.) For some good points, Calvin in Europe was fun, and I liked the British attorney, and I loved learning what Taleswapper's true knack is.
Yet Alvin and Peggy both seemed too old for their roles. The innocent spunk that made them such fun when they were younger is boring and stale a little strange in people in their late twenties. They finally get together, but it seemed anti-climactic. And Peggy's pregnant already? How divine.
Most of all, though, is that I feel Card is badly misusing his alternate history. It's fun to see the twisted-around versions of real historical figures, but Card disappointed me with almost all of them. For example, William Henry Harrison was delightful as a cruel military man in "Red Prophet," but in this book he does just what he did in real history: become president and die after getting sick at his inaugural address. I guess Card was having fun with making events seem inevitable, but that seems a waste of a good alternate history.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I originally read this several years ago, and re-read it recently after getting the new book in the series. As I read this series as a whole, I am staring to notice that the individual stories form each book (The war in Red Prophet, the story of Arthur Stuart in Prentice Alvin, and the trial in this book) and the new characters that keep coming along, are starting to overshadow the overall story of Alvin's quest to build the Crystal City.
This book started a little slowly, so I thought it might not have been as interesting as the previous books in the series, as often happens once you get this deep into a series. But with the introduction of Verily Cooper and Alvin's trial, the book really picks up the pace. I look forward to re-reading the next book (Heartfire) followed by the The Crystal City, which will hopefully conclude the series.
If you've enjoyed the other books in this series, you probably won't be disappointed by this one.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Alvin Maker series starts off with a unique and fascinating alternate history of a world where people have "knacks" which allow them to do what would be considered "magic" to most of us. Alvin's knack is "making" and the first two books explained his world and shaped his character through some interesting and unique experiences.

The third book signalled the beginning of a decline in the series as Card moves toward his favored story of a main male character (Alvin) who is supposedly noble and good above all else. The third book is saved by an interesting and appropriate storyline about slavery but the same cannot be said of the fourth.

Unfortunately, in the fourth book, he makes the Alvin behave so stupidly as a means of attempting to martyr him that the reader soon loses respect for the main character. There is honor in self-sacrifice but not in someone who thinks that covering up the lies and misdeeds of others is a form of "good". Doesn't Card ever think it might be interesting to explore the theme of fostering positive character growth in others by having their lies and misdeeds dealt with directly by the person who they have harmed? I'm not talking about Rambo-type behavior but the fact that the Ender's series, the Homecoming series, and now the Alvin Maker series have pathetic men who believe bad decisions make them strong and noble is getting tiresome.

The worst part isn't the retread of the same old story but the fact that this story simply goes on and on and seems to have very little point other than to drag poor undeserving Alvin through the muck and have him sit by and do diddly about it. This is not only uninteresting for the reader but actively annoying.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have long considered the first three books of the Alvin Maker series to be true masterpieces. Alvin Journeyman did not live up to the promise set by its predecessors, in my opinion. From the first chapters of Journeyman, I noticed that the voice had changed. I don't know if Card lost the flavor because he waited too long, but I am awfully sorry that he did. I also wonder if sticking to the Joseph Smith story so closely is becoming hampering to the plot of the series. In the first three books, it was noticeable only in the general flavor of things and reminded me of the relationship between the Narnian Chronicles and the New Testament. Different stories that pointed to the same truths. In Journeyman, I almost feel like Alvin and his friends no longer have their own stories, but are merely puppets acting the script of the Joseph Smith story. In spite of my disappointment in the book as an installment in the Alvin Maker story, it did have some very intriguing ideas. I was particularly interested in Calvin's adventures with Napoleon, Card's portrayal of raw ambition was masterful. I do not plan to read any future additions to the Alvin Maker series, I will enjoy the first three for the masterpieces that they are. It would be a pity dilute their excellence.
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