Born into an alternative frontier America, where life is hard and folk magic is real, Alvin is gifted with power, but he must learn to use his gift wisely. Dark forces are arrayed against Alvin, and only a young girl with second sight can protect him.
Don't miss the sequel to this book, Red Prophet.
©1987 Orson Scott Card; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"A tribute to the art of storytelling, this is highly recommended." (Library Journal)
"Seventh Son begins what may be a significant recasting in fantasy terms of the tall tale of America." (Washington Post Book World)
"A consistently gripping tale featuring solid historical research and a keen understanding of religious experience. Another major effort by a world-class talent. Highly recommended." (Booklist)
I can't help but be overwhelmingly dissappointed by this book. After having read nearly 20 various OSC books from his early works, Treason, to his popular works, Ender Series, to his new material, Pathfinder, I have yet to find a book by him that I didn't enjoy. With that being said though, Seventh Son was an uneventful story that never captivated my heart whereas these aforementioned novels all did. The main problem with Seventh Son lies in the fact that there is little to no character development at all. Not only did I not grow to understand or genuinely like the characters, but I also felt the plot was drawn out and very little actually happened throughout the entire book. I wish I had enough room to fully explain my complaints with Seventh Son, but unfortunately I don't. The only saving grace for this audiobook lies within the excellent narration from Brick and Rudnicki. I can't say I'll be returning to this series though.
This story deserves 4.5 stars in my view and the narration around a 3.5 or 4. Although I love Scott Brick, he trips over the early Americans' diction in this book, and the rest of the narrators have a surprisingly hard time consistently using accents.
The story, however, is fabulous overall. It does meander quite a bit more than Ender's Game and some of Card's other texts; for instance, Card launches into an unexpected diatribe on Ben Franklin's "Americanization" of "Americans" for what seems like 20 minutes, and this diatribe has nothing to do with the story, as far as I can tell. And religious fervor seems to be a subject of contention in the book, or at least the battle between religion, science, and magic. But if you like these subjects and Card's other books, you will probably find this story compelling.
Also compelling are Alvin Maker and the cast of characters who surround him. They really make this book, though it is the story of Alvin and his power to "make" things whole that makes me want to read the second book in this series.
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at FanLit.
"When you’re surrounded by light, how do you know whether it’s the glory of God, or the flames of Hell?"
Set in an alternate American frontier, Seventh Son is the first in Orson Scott Card’s THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER. Alvin Miller is the seventh son of a seventh son which makes him special and potentially a very powerful healer, or “maker” — at least that’s what many who practice folk magic, believe. They know that many folk have “knacks” and they’ve seen the effects of curses and charms. It’s obvious that there’s a supernatural war going on around Alvin Miller. He’s almost been killed many times (usually by water), but it’s clear that some other force is protecting him. While his family expects greatness from Alvin, some of his neighbors think he may be “devil spawn.”
Reverend Thrower, the new Christian pastor who has just come over from Europe, finds all this folk magic to be rather creepy. He’s trying to dispel these superstitious notions while teaching his parish that any magic they think they see can be explained by scientific investigation. After interacting with Alvin’s family, he may be forced to reconsider his position. Is this folk magic superstitious nonsense, evil witchery, or a gift from God?
Seventh Son begins with an emotionally gripping scene as one child dies and another is born to the Miller family. These first few scenes make up the Hugo and Nebula nominated novella Hatrack River. The emotion doesn’t let up, the world-building and characterization are admirably complex, and there’s a nice touch of folksy humor — especially in the episodes of sibling rivalry.
I’ve heard it said that Seventh Son is loosely based on the life of Latter Day Saints prophet Joseph Smith, though I don’t know enough about Smith to notice the parallels. Orson Scott Card is known to be religious and conservative (and a member of the LDS church), but you wouldn’t know it from reading Seventh Son. Though religion is the dominant theme, Card’s religious characters are, at least on the surface, hard to sympathize with. For example, though Reverend Thrower’s intentions are good, his deeds are more evil than the deeds of the “immoral” people he opposes. It’s easy to see this from our perspective, but we can also see why Thrower thinks he’s doing the right thing. It’s a good parallel to some of the religious conflicts we see in our society today.
I’m intrigued by Card’s alternate America where familiar politics and personalities are slightly different from historical facts. This played an insignificant background role in Seventh Son, but will surely become more prominent in future volumes of THE TALES OF ALVIN MAKER. I look forward to that.
I listened to Blackstone Audio’s version of Seventh Son which was narrated by a full cast including Scott Brick, Gabrielle de Cuir, Stephen Hoye and Stefan Rudnicki. This is a superb cast who did a great job individually. The parts were split up by chapter rather than by role, so on a couple of occasions I was initially confused at the different accents used for the same character by different narrators. Included in the audiobook version is an afterword by Orson Scott Card which explains the origin of Hatrack River and Seventh Son.
Published in 1987, Seventh Son was nominated for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards and won a Locus Award. It’s a beautifully written emotional story set in an original fantasy world.
I would not recommend this book. I am a fan of Cards writing usually, but this time I felt like I wasn't so much listening to a completed story as listening to the writers notes instead. There was no flow to this story at all, everything felt choppy and disoriented - as tho card kept realizing he'd forgotten to add important elements into the tale and so just plopped them in whenever it came to mind.
I will say that the story had huge potential! Sadly I didn't enjoy it enough to bother moving on to the next book in the series... Perhaps it gets better. The narrators did a beautiful job of attempting to bring the characters to life.
Tho it's sad to say this story, tho not a complete waste of time, gave nothing to make it memorable.
This is a very satisfying start of a series, but don't listen to it unless you are prepared to commit to the full series. I really enjoyed the universe that was created in this book that took peices of American history and wove in a unique folklore and magic.
I think Seventh Son does a great job introducing the listeners to this world, but does not make a satisfying listen on its own. The story has no real conclusion. It just ends the the obvious foresight that this book, by itself, is not a story, but just an introduction.
I have listened to multiple book narrated by Scott Brick and Gabrielle de Cuir and they always do a great job telling the story. This book is no exception.
I always greatly enjoy author commentary after listening to a story. Card's afterward is enjoyable (if not slightly spoiler-ish) and I think it did an excellent job propelling my desire to listen to the next book.
I've read most of Card's book starting with Ender's Game when I was in high school, and usually find his work hard to put down.
Seventh son though feels like a lower class of book. Card usually writes very deep, compelling characters you can't help but care about. Everyone in this book was flat, 2-dimensional and I felt like I couldn't care less about them.
The story is painfully long with no flow, it jumps around with long tedious passages that don't mesh, don't form a story, and don't make sense. I know I wouldn't be continuing the series because I'm left just not caring what comes next.
I'm surprised that this book won awards. Benjamin Franklin a wizard? Magic in pioneer America? Maybe this makes sense to members of the Mormon Church?
Speakers were very good
This book was annoying, and boring.
The prose and the images in storyline make this as good as any book I've ever read. The narrative was exceptional.
Card once again takes you on an adventure that is fun and fantastic, while also being deeply philosophical. I read the Ender quartet and loved this book just as much.
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