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.
©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)
Seventh Son has always been one of my favorite books. I waited for a very long time for an unabridged audio version. I was a little worried that it wouldn't live up to my high expectations, but the cast more than delivered. All the readers are so very talented. My only complaint is that Rev. Thrower sometimes lapses in and out of his Scottish accent, but it happens at appropriate enough times.
Seventh Son is creative storytelling at its very best. As an "alternate history" of America, you can't beat this book for color and charm. The characters are thoroughly believable and sympathetic.
Frontiersy magic-stories might be a departure for Card fans who are used to his sci-fi works, but give Seventh Son and its sequels a try anyhow. Card comes through with his usual brilliant characterization, real dialogue, and perfectly paced plot.
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.
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 really like Orson Scott Card books. REALLY lilke them. But this one just never seemed to go anywhere. Most of the characters are not likable and you don't really care what happens to them. I will probably read the next one for the same reason I picked up this one.....to see what the hype is about. I certainly didn't find my answer in this book.
With work, family, and my own aspirations at a future writing career, I find very little time for reading. I love audio-books because I can listen to books on my way to and from work.
I am an avid fan of Card, and this story was interesting, but did not reel me in quite like Ender's Game or Pathfinder. Overall, I enjoyed the story.
Kat at FanLit
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.
This is a very interesting book, with good characters (the stereotypical witch-haters are unfortunately all too believable) and a nice twist to the historical past. I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to listening to the next book.
The readers are very good, but the switches between who's reading isn't always consistent. The story's told from different perspectives, so the reader changes when the point of view changes. Sometimes you get two readers having a dialogue, but it's annoying when you in the next chapter *don't* get the dialogue (maybe because it's a too small part of the chapter for there to be two readers present, I don't know) and you have to "get used to" a new voice for one of the characters. This, I think, is not a problem caused by the readers, but by the people deciding which chapters should be read by whom.
But this is not something that should put you off the book in itself, especially if you like historical fantasy in the first place.
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.
Literature teacher and sci-fi/fantasy fan
Orson Scott Card tells great stories. But this recording picked a horrible reader for the character of Reverend Thrower. The semi-dramatized nature of the recording works well for the tale, but the actor who portrays the Thrower chapters can't decide if he wants to use a Scottish burr or not.
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