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The Crystal City (Tales of Alvin Maker, Book 6) Hardcover – November 10, 2003

3.6 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

If not the best in the series, Card's latest Alvin Maker novel (after 1998's Heartfire: Tales of Alvin Maker V) still enchants. In the author's alternative American frontier world, Indians work the magics of nature, Africans transform themselves with trinkets and whites have knacks-magical talents that allow them to shape metal, find water, win the hearts of followers and more. Alvin, the powerful seventh son of a seventh son, can create things that cannot be destroyed. He also has more than his fair share of knacks as well as some Indian magic. Determined to stop suffering where he finds it, he dreams of building the Crystal City, which will help mankind live in peace. A large part of the appeal lies in the book's homegrown characters using their powers for ordinary purposes. A blacksmith's knack shapes axes that never dull, while a midwife can sense the health of her patients. Even as Alvin performs miracles to lead thousands of slaves out of bondage, he is filled with uncertainty about what to do with his life and self-doubt because he couldn't save his stillborn child. Alvin's fans will be relieved to know that the City is indeed begun in this volume, but those who were expecting the start of the civil war, previously billed as forthcoming, will have longer to wait.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Card creates a solid episode in what is perhaps his most interesting ongoing series.” ―Bookpage on The Crystal City

“By mixing real settings, people, and situations with his own brand of characterization and biblical metaphor, the author has created an early America as it might have been if magic had played a part in its development.” ―Rocky Mountain News on The Crystal City

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Tales of Alvin Maker (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (November 10, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312864833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312864835
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,963,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I felt a little let down by "Crystal City." The quality of the writing and of the characters is still excellent: that's not the issue. But it just didn't feel very climactic for what seems like it ought to be the last book in the series. Maybe if it hadn't been named "Crystal City" I'd have felt better about it being just a link in the chain.

I also found myself scratching my head and wondering if I'd missed a book in between Heartfire and Crystal City. There seems to have been at least a year in between the stories, which in any of itself isn't a problem except that they keep referring to things that happened - the death of a baby, Arthur's breakthrough, meeting Abe and Coz, rescuing a boatload of slaves, the splitting up of the Verily / Fink / Alvin / Arthur / Audobon crew, Peggy's acquaintence with Squirel and Moose... there seems to be a good book or two in there that we didn't get to read. Maybe he will fill in some gaps later the way he's done with Ender's universe?

Finally, the Crystal City story itself just didn't seem to be long enough. There was so much going on that didn't really get much detail - especially the role of Abe, Coz, and Verily in getting the charter, the invasion of Mexico, Arthur's return, the journey north, etc. It almost felt like some of those details were too boring to write about... but that doesn't make sense considering the time he spent on similar topics in "Journeyman" and even "Heartfire."

The book ended in such a way that we were left hopeful for another installment. I certainly hope we get one: as a climax for a really great series, this just didn't fit the bill.
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Format: Hardcover
In _The Crystal City_, Orson Scott Card's 6th book in the Alvin Maker series, Alvin starts an epidemic and builds a bridge, Arthur Stuart gets kissed and runs to Mexico and back, Calvin postures, Verily sulks and Margaret sighs. That's about it.
Before embarking on _The Crystal City_ I went back and reread the entire series, as it had been five years or so since I was through them last and I wanted to be sure everything was fresh. I was, once more, delighted by the voice with its smooth use of early American colloquialism, impressed by the obvious knowledge of history and folklore that went into them, captivated by the engaging characters and astounded by the scope of the work. "Boy," I thought, "This is one Great Series!"
Then I came to the current volume. And I was really disappointed. It purely does not compare with its companions in any way. The story was frankly boring and the Biblical allegory--which was very suave and subtle in the earlier works-- was just ham-handed. I don't object to Alvin's spending the entire book leading a group of slaves to freedom, but it doesn't make for very interesting action and the subplots weren't developed enough to alleviate the tedium. The language was mundane, without any of the personality I had come to expect. The earlier books seemed to be told by a breathing human being; TCC resembled a recitation by a history prof counting the days until retirement. The characters were flat. The characters we had seen before were not developed any further and the new characters were not developed at all. In previous books even minor characters had personalities and stories, but only lip service was paid to that here: note the stunning difference between _Heartfire's_ Denmark and TCC's Old Bart.
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By A Customer on February 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The sixth book of the Tales of Alvin Maker feels a lot like the increasingly tired books at the end of the Ender series. It's not that the book is boring--I read it in two sittings--but although the plot is fine, it's simply not as well crafted as the earlier volumes in the series, and it shows. For one, the earlier books had a distinctive narrator, a sort of folksy presence that was clearly of the world of the book, but that is completely absent from this book, making the book read more like notes for a screen play than a coherent whole. Secondly, there's no overarching plot arc that makes this book stand alone the way the others in the series could--it feels more like the collected other adventures of Alvin Maker, and not like a coherent whole where the plot tensions pull the book to its conclusions. Third, the book has a strange quality that it does not take place immediately after the events in Heartfire. There's nothing wrong with that, per se--it might even be interesting, except that in this case a lot of the emotional tension from the previous book is just gone. Peggy and Alvin are separated again, their baby stillborn, and although you are told about Alvin's guilt in not being able to save his child you don't get to see it, and it carries little weight--it feels for most of the book that they've drifted apart, but I'm not sure that's the intention. At the end of the last book, Verily Cooper has found new love, but Purity is almost entirely gone from this book, with some hints that their romance went nowhere. Calvin is back, but all the rapproachment between him and Alvin is gone--which is probably realistic, but very unsatisfying after the last book where we see a seachange in Alvin's brother.Read more ›
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