Orson Scott Card
Seventh Son (Volume 1 of the Tales of Alvin Maker)
Tor Books 1987

It's late in the 18th Century. Alvin Miller is on his way to the American Frontier with all his sons and daughters and his pregnant wife. When they are about to pass a river, the time has come for her to birth their seventh son. The seventh son of a seventh son - a very magical child in a very magical America - a child that might change the world. Water is an enemy for a such a child, and the river tries to take their wagon. The unborn child is rescued only by the sacrifice of the eldest son, Vigor, who survives just long enough for Alvin Jr. to become the seventh son. He grows up in the village of Vigor Church, named after his dead brother and reverend Thrower's big presbyterian church. But there is a power that wants him out of the way, by any means necessary - rivers, reverents or mill stones. Even in a happy Frontier village, death is always just around the corner...

I just love the alternative American history Card has created. What would have happened if Cromwell hadn't lost in England, if the king had fled to the American south, Native Americans had got a state of their own in the United States and Thomas Jefferson had fought George Washington in the Appalachiants? The magic of sparks, torches and seventh sons is all very interesting, but the magic that really caught me is the magic of a very different but still quite believable American history. And I think I would've enjoyed it even more, had I known more about real American history.

There are also a few things that did disturb me somewhat. The most important of them is that there really isn't much of a story in this book. It's more like a couple of episods from Alvin Jr's childhood years than a book with a plot. It's all very nice and well-written, but in my opinion this little defect disqualifies it from the title "masterpiece".

Karl Henriksson

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Books by the same author:
Red Prophet
Prentice Alvin
Alvin Journeyman

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Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.