Orson Scott Card
Prentice Alvin (Volume 3 of the Tales of Alvin Maker)
Tor Books 1989

This is the third book in the tales of Alvin Maker. Beware! The review might include spoilers if you haven't read "Red Prophet".

In just a few hours, three important things happen in the small town of Hatrack River. A slave woman uses magic to run away from the evil slave-owner whose child she has birthed. She comes to the River Hio, where the young torch Peggy finds her and her son. Peggy's father, Horace Guester, helps them cross the river. The mother dies, but Peggy's parents adopt the mixup baby and call him Arthur Stuart. Early in the morning, Peggy runs away. The reason is eleven-year-old Alvin, who will arrive later in the morning. She has seen the man he will become and fallen in love with him. But she also knows that he will not love her unless she change. Alvin comes to Hatrack River to become a blacksmith, Makepeace Smith's apprentice. Peggy leaves Hatrack River to become an educated lady, who later on will be able to teach Alvin what he will need to know to become a Maker.

I really liked "Red Prophet", but I think this novel is even better. In some ways the theme of the second book in the series is more original, but it was still possible to put that book down once I had started reading it. This one wasn't. It was like reading Robert Jordan's "Wheel of time"-series, it became an obsession.

Why? The most important thing is that Orson Scott Card, like a true Maker, has got the gift to give life to his characters. You feel like you know them, you love them and you really want to know what will happen next to them. The second most important thing is the alternative history Card has created. If the theme of "Red Prophet" was the relationship between the colonists and the Native Americans, the theme of this one can be said to be slavery and the way the colonists treat Africans. The trigger is of course young Arthur Stuart appearing in Hatrack River, and without ever stepping over the line and becoming preachy the author tells us what's right and what's wrong. A lot of authors try to do that, but in my opinion few does it better than Orson Scott Card. I guess that is because the message is an perfectly integrated part of a very good story.

Karl Henriksson

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Books by the same author:
Seventh Son
Red Prophet
Alvin Journeyman

Hatrack River - The Official Web Site of Orson Scott Card

Reviews - FantasyLinks - BoardRoom - Top 5

Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.