Craig Williams's Reviews > Alvin Journeyman

Alvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card
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's review
Aug 31, 2009

really liked it
Read in August, 2009

It had been awhile since I read the last book in this series, Prentice Alvin, so I went in hoping I wouldn't have to refer to Wikipedia too much about the details of what happened in the last book, in case my memory failed me (as it often does). Fortunately, the only thing I have forgotten about Orson Scott Card is how deftly he is able to refresh the reader's memory on such things without breaking up the narrative. I was able to enjoy this book without even a glimpse of a Wikipedia cheat sheet.

The series is set in post Revolutionary War America, except an alternate version, in which Native Americans have their own portion of the nation, the British still control much of the East, and most everyone in the country can use magical abilities, colloquially referred to as "knacks" (sort of like mutant powers, but not as flashy). The main character, Alvin Smith, has the most amazing knack of all - he is a Maker, a being born every thousand years with the ability to create.. well, pretty much anything. His powers include, but are not limited to, healing the sick, walking through solid earth, and changing iron into gold. This book follows Alvin Smith, as he begins his quest to fulfill his destiny of creating a magnificent Crystal City. Meanwhile, his brother Calvin, who possesses the same Maker powers, sets out on his own quest to learn how he can both outdo, and destroy, his brother once and for all.

As I said before, the book does a good job of bringing the reader up to speed unobtrusively. It wasn't long before I was so familiarized with all the characters, I could have read the last book yesterday (instead of several, several months ago). The story goes along a nice pace, and it was interesting how Alvin and Calvin's stories ran parallel, though while Alvin was learning more about the responsibilities of being a Maker, Calvin was learning the subtleties of exploiting his gift for personal gain. The other characters were well realized too, which is helped with excellently written dialogue. Most of Alvin's story revolves around him being on trial to settle a dispute that took place in the previous book, and the trial sequences were really interesting. I can't wait to see how the rest of this series plays out!

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