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Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card

Seventh Son (1987)

by Orson Scott Card

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Tales of Alvin Maker (1)

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3,555531,487 (3.85)1 / 50

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In Card's world, many people have a limited supernatural ability, or "knack" to do some task to almost perfection. Alvin Miller, who is the seventh son of a seventh son, discovers that his knack far surpasses those of everyone else. In particular, he can change both living and nonliving matter simply by force of will (hence the title "Maker"). This power comes at a cost, however; not only does Alvin feel a great responsibility to use his power for good, but there are forces that actively seek his demise.

Alvin must discover how to use his abilities, and how to apply them for good, all the while struggling to survive. Along the way, he is helped by a number of people whose knacks are not as strong, but who see in Alvin a way to use their wisdom and abilities to contribute to a greater good. There are also those who try to misguide him or exploit his abilities for their own purposes.

The stories involve a number of historical events and figures. However, history takes a number of different turns from the real world. What was historically Colonial America is divided into a number of separate countries, including a smaller United States, with much stronger American Indian influence in its culture and society, between New England and Virginia and extending westwards to Ohio (New England itself is still a colony of a republican England where the Restoration never occurred), and a monarchy on the Eastern seaboard founded by the House of Stuart in exile. In addition, many of the historical figures are either caricatures or bear only superficial resemblance to their real world equivalents. Some of the historical figures are also accorded knacks, such as Benjamin Franklin (not a character, but repeatedly mentioned), who is said to have been a Maker, and Napoleon, who has the ability to make others adore and obey him, and to see others' great ambitions. Famous Red Indian Figures include Tecumseh who is called Ta Kumsaw in the books. His brother Tensquatawa also features, as Tenskwa Tawa. The characters in the book display features similar to the two famous Reds, and the famous battle of Tippecanoe which involves both brothers is also a part of the book, although it doesn't happen like the real battle.

Race also plays a large part in the stories, particularly in the way that culture shapes the abilities that people of different groups develop. Whites have knacks or cultivated skills that we might recognize from the folklore and traditions of colonial America and western Europe. "Reds" align themselves with the rhythms of nature but also use blood to perform some of their magic. "Blacks" channel their skills into creating objects of power, in a manner somewhat similar to the beliefs and practices of voodoo.

A recurring and main theme of the books is the conflict between Creators and Destroyers—namely, Making such as Alvin does, and Unmaking that he confronts.

The Author used information of American folklore to create the world featured in these books.

Card, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, loosely based some events and themes in this series on the life of Joseph Smith, the founder of the religion. The series draws upon the millennial traditions of the faith, the teachings that Native Americans will play a role in establishing the millennial society, and includes many allusions to LDS doctrines and beliefs.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
This is the first in Card's 'Alvin Maker' series.
It takes place in an alternate Colonial America (one where Washington got beheaded for treason). The 'alternate history' elements, however, are incidental - the story itself has to do with one young boy, Alvin Jr, who's a seventh son of a seventh son, and has unusual powers, even in a large family who don't think that 'supernatural' powers are that unusual. Alvin swears, at a very young age, not to use his power for evil or selfish reasons - but nonetheless, there seems to be some power bent on his destruction.
The book focuses more on moral and ethical dilemmas than on action - but it never failed to hold my interest. It also did a very good job of portraying religious people of varying beliefs without ever getting 'preachy' - although one might say that Card definitely says, here, that people can be good without being perfect, and that the righteous can also be mistaken. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Alvin Jr. is the 7th son of a 7th son. From the beginning his life has challenges and the water tries to take him. Orson Scott Card is a wonderful storyteller. I listened to the unabridged audio and the different narrators made this even better. ( )
  i.should.b.reading | Jan 15, 2016 |
Interesting premise, but even after 100 pages, I did not like it. Life's too short to continue, even though I loved this author's Ender books. ( )
  fuzzi | Dec 23, 2015 |
My father recommended this book to me, saying that it was an alternate history of American and native American history which caught my interest immediately. This book doesn't really touch upon it however, and focuses more on Alvin's childhood. The second book is where the alternate history will really be noticeably I'm told. I enjoyed this book a lot; it kept me engaged the whole book. The ending is a little ominous and I am eager to get my hands on the next book. ( )
  Kassilem | Sep 13, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (20 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Orson Scott Cardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, Mark G.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nolan, DennisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Emily Jan,
who knows all the magic
that she'll ever need.
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Little Peggy was very careful with the eggs.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812533054, Mass Market Paperback)

From the author of Ender’s Game, an unforgettable story about young Alvin Maker: the seventh son of a seventh son. Born into an alternative frontier America where life is hard and folk magic is real, Alvin is gifted with the power. He must learn to use his gift wisely. But dark forces are arrayed against Alvin, and only a young girl with second sight can protect him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:44 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In an alternate frontier America, Alvin, the seventh son of a seventh son, is born with a destiny to become something great, perhaps even a Maker.

» see all 6 descriptions

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