With this book, first in a series, Orson Scott Cards brings the reader into a world both familiar and wonderfully alien. Set in the closing years of the eighteenth century, the book describes the emerging nations of a North America that could have been. Here the Iroquois have formed into a state, and the forme British colonies have aligned themselves differently Even the history of Britain is altered, with the Commonwealth of Oliver Cromwell enduring. Card shows a broad and surprisingly detailed knowledge of actual history and people of the period, as he unfolds his story on the backdrop of this alternate history.
The centerpiece of the story, however, is a single seemingly ordinary family, the Millers. The birth of their seventh son, Alvin, occurs durng a perilous journey into the Wabash country. It is quickly apparant they live in a world that includes people with extraordinary abilities, often described simply as special "nacks." We would call these nacks magic. Many use one of the four elements: earth, water, wnd, and fire. Others are more subtle. Indians, called "Reds," have a natural sense of earth and life unknown to whites. Hexes and charms weld genuine power, and common folk are accustomed to the fact some folk with various "nacks" grow up and live among them.
The most powerful of these, and the focus of the series, is newborn Alvin Miller, seventh son of a seventh son. His nack is so powerful and subtle that neither he nor others around him have the faintest idea when, where, or how it will manifest itself. It emerges that he is the rarest of all these extraordinaries, a "maker" - one who can bend the normal workings of the world to make things right, the way they ought to be. From the beginning, the mysterious force, the un-maker, seeks to destroy the Alvin the Maker while he is still young and reatively helpless.
I have enjoyed a number of Card's works, but Seventh Son, and the series it begins, is surely my favorite.
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