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Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker #1)

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  29,610 Ratings  ·  1,321 Reviews
In an alternate version of frontier America, young Alvin is the seventh son of a seventh son, and such a birth is powerful magic. Yet even in the loving safety of his home, dark forces reach out to destroy him.
Paperback, 316 pages
Published January 1st 1989 by Legend (first published 1987)
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Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orson Scott Card described his novel Seventh Son as an American epic fantasy, contrasting with the uncompromisingly British Tolkeinesque genre of fantasy books.

This reminded me a great deal of Larry McMurtry’s The Berrybender Narratives in its imaginative use of historic people and places to tale the story of the American Frontier in the 1840s. Card, telling a story perhaps set in the 1810-20s makes this even more interesting by slowly unraveling the American past into an alternative history fi
James M. Madsen, M.D.
Rather than discuss each of the books in the Tales of Alvin Maker series separately, I'll use this review for all of them. They present an alternate-history account of a nineteenth-century America in which magic is a potent force. Although it might not be evident to nonmormons, this series is a thinly veiled fictional adaptation of the life of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith (just as his Homecoming Saga is a similarly thinly veiled science-fiction version of the story of the first part of the Book o ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
I'm re-reading this book now and, is it just me or does it seem like OSC could actually WRITE BETTER back then?
He doesn't write like this anymore. Now his books are the conservative lecturing version of the Anita Blake serious where instead of sex scenes after sex scenes you get characters nagging about morality and marriage.

Also, why do folks insist on being so dang cruel to kids? Hitting them with hazel rods and smacking then and such? I don't get that.

What I also don't get is, why do people a
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans, and alternate-world fans
Since quantum physics (or a vague conception of it :-)) entered popular consciousness, alternate worlds have become a staple of science fiction; but the burgeoning of alternate worlds in which magic works has become a parallel movement in the fantasy genre. Judging by this first installment, Card's Tales of Alvin Maker series is a strong contribution to the latter.

Set in 1800-1810 in what would be, in our world, the Ohio and Indiana frontier, this novel describes the birth, and significant times
You may have heard—O.S. Card is a Mormon. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It just makes this little story a trifle more interesting, because you see, our main character Alvin goes through A LOT of the things that Joseph Smith did, growing up. Like Smith, Alvin has parents who disagreed about religion and like the Smith family, Alvin’s family practices a religious folk magic in addition to Christianity. Smith also claimed, like Alvin, to be confused about the claims of competing religi ...more
Ben Babcock
Books about special children with magic powers being manipulated by binary forces are kind of boring. There seems to be a glut of them.

As the 18th century draws its final, decade-long gasps, America looks a lot different than our history remembers. Dutch colonies and Aboriginal nations have become states. Washington was executed for betraying his British superiors; Benjamin Franklin was (though he denied it), a “wizard”. Faith and superstition have formed a tense equilibrium that could topple gi
4.5 stars. Fresh, original fantasy using the United States of the 19th century as its backdrop. This creation of a truly "American" fantasy novel was truly original and I thought made it a cut above a lot of cookie cutter fantasy stories.

Winner: Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (1988)
Winner: Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature (1988)
Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Novel (1988)
Nominee: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (1988)
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
This book is a clear, fantasy parallel of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr., founder of Mormonism. If you know nothing of Joseph Smith's life, you might enjoy it as a uniquely American fantasy epic. If you are a Mormon, you will probably appreciate it even more.

But if you are like me, and know about Smith's life, but believe his church's message is false, you might find it a bit painful. I get the references, and they're very good, and overall this is certainly the most creative and artistic explana
Jan 29, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like this book. I read about 80 pages and just couldn't go on. I found the story to be pretty boring, and it seemed very bogged down in religion. On top of this, I found the character names to be inexcusably silly. Maybe I just don't 'get' it?

I read The Ender Quintet and Enchantment in high school, and really loved the story lines. Because of my previous positive reactions to other Orson Scott Card works, I thought that this was a no-brainer.

I wou
Kenneth Pierce
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I flew through this. Immensely interesting, this is a brilliantly imagined piece of alternate history quasi-fantasy. Convoluted genre? Yes, but Card just keeps proving to me what a compelling storyteller he is. Don't expect unicorns and magical swords (thankfully), but try it and you'll find a realistic take on folk magic mixed with an alternate story of the birth of our nation that complement each other beautifully and seamlessly. Loved it.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having only just recently discovered the wonder that is Ender's Game and all its sequels (in my mind they have an odd kind of kinship with Dune now that I've read a few) I still thought to myself, "A fantasy? From Orson Scott Card??" Yes. Yes to this. It's so *American* in a way that other fantasy I've read is so not. Fantasy has always seemed so European (and within that mostly British) to me, but this is incredibly American, and rather Appalachian and I'm loving the series. I'm on a Card kick ...more
Alvin Miller, Jr is the seventh son of a seventh son. He's born into an alternate version of 19th Century America--one in which the Revolutionary War hasn't happened and where folk magic is a strong, powerful and very real force.

Alvin is a maker, a strong and potentially powerful force in the world. And he's got an equally strong, unrelenting enemy, the Unmaker who stop at nothing to ensure Alvin doesn't grow up and into his power. Much of the novel looks at the efforts the Unmaker uses to try
Nos encontramos en el siglo XIX, en una Norteamérica alternativa, donde la Revolución Americana nunca existió, y el Lord Protector todavía sigue en Inglaterra. La magia existe, pero se trata de una magia asociada al folklore popular. Hay conjuros, hechizos y personas con dones, como por ejemplo las teas, que pueden leer el fuego interior, o los hidrománticos, cuyo poder domina el agua. En este entorno, será donde nazca Alvin, el séptimo hijo varón de un séptimo hijo varón, lo que le augura un de ...more
Sep 23, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ben Franklin is a wizard that can pull lightning out of the sky...whaaat? George Washington was beheaded for treason...whaaat? Thomas Jefferson impregnated lots and lots of slave girls...whaaat? wait that one is real. A story about an alternative America that was founded on religious freedom that involved a little magic mixed in. Less than spectacular and not very much excitement but well written and still interesting. There was no ending to the story. It just ran out of pages
Seventh Son was a revelation to me when I found it for the first time as a teenager just done with the Speaker Saga and hungry for more Card. It wasn't just different from The Speaker books and the others of Card's that I had read, it was different from everything that I had ever read.

On the surface, Seventh Son is just Ender's Game revisited: a young boy on whose shoulders rests the fate of the world. That sentence could describe half of everything Card ever published. But young Alvin, the sev
This started well. We open with the difficult birth of our hero, so it literally begins at the beginning. But it's well written and you think okay so that's the intro, now the story.


More intro, more set up, lots of exposition and establishing of things that don't need to be established.

The writing, the premise, the characters are all fine. The historical stuff, even the made up stuff, is all well conceived and interesting.

But there's no story. It's all set up.

This books was clearly written
Kat  Hooper
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
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
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
**Spoilers, not much though**

Nothing about this book really wow’d me or stood out enough for me to say “here friend, you’d love this book,” The selling feature of this book to me was that it was written by Orson Scott Card, which only makes the fact that it didn’t do anything for me all the more disappointing. I loved the Ender Series he wrote. I normally pick up any book by him I can find but living in my small town the book store isn’t normally stocked with much of anything but Ender’s Game. W
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was very disappointed in this book. The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is because his writing style and descriptions are interesting.
But in this book there is no plot, no clear and specific conflict. There is a vague, shadowy insinuation that some big invisible force wants to destroy everything for no particular reason, but apparently this force isn't very strong because so far all it can do is throw rocks at a little boy and miss. And the boy is supposed to stop it by weaving
Radu Stanculescu
The "Alvin Maker" series was my second contact with O.S. Card after the "Ender" series, and I'm delighted to say it's different and it's still good. :) It was an interesting mix of history, religion, magic and insights into human morals and what motivates our actions. The magic is treated very "practically", like an extra talent that you need to work on to develop, and thankfully it doesn't take over the book while still being an important part of it. The one negative thing is that I didn't get ...more
Doug Cannon
I started reading this to some of my kids. So far, it has been really good. There was not any of the Card vulgarity that is present in some of his other books. Some of that did come into the 3rd book in the series, but it was done tastefully if I remember properly.

This book was a great read for the kids, and they enjoyed it. One of my kids guessed that it was a parallel to Joseph Smith's life, but it's so minimal that it's hard to notice if you're not specifically looking for it.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anlatımı hoş(hafif Neil Gaiman'ın "Yıldız Tozu" kitabı tarzında); fakat gereğinden fazla uzatılmış bir kitap. Kitap bittiğinde ise tüm kitap boyunca hikayenin girişinden bahsedildiğinden, devamını merak etmiyorsunuz. Hikayenin gidişatıyla ilgili birkaç olay ve karakter olmaması, serinin devamını okumak konusunda soğuttu beni açıkçası.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I found this terribly boring. I had actually started reading this once before and never finished because it was too dull. Now I am dreading reading the next one because I think it will be painfully plodding.
The Alvin that starts this novel, isn't the eponymous Alvin. The novel starts with Alvin Miller – a father moving west with his family. Moving west to start a new life with his family. His wife, Faith, and his (many) sons and daughters. Faith is heavily pregnant with their seventh son – which connects with the clue of the book's title quite nicely. Faith gives birth en-route, to their seventh son – Alvin. In this world seventh sons are special, the seventh son of a seventh son even more so. This ...more
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Hinter den Sieben Bergen
Noch eins der Bücher, die seit 10 Jahren auf dem SuB lagen. Manchmal fragt man sich bei so einem "gereiften" Buch, warum man es gekauft hatte: War es eine Empfehlung? Ein Buch, das im Zusammenhang mit einem anderen steht, das man gern gelesen hat? Ein "must-read" aus einem bestimmten Genre? Ich weiß es für "Seventh Son" nicht mehr. Letztlich bin ich aber froh, dass ich es damals gekauft und nun herausgekramt habe.

Die Grenze zwischen Wildnis und Zivilisation wandert. Für d
Feb 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ne düşüneceğimi bilemiyorum. Kitabın en başından beri hikayede boşluklar olduğunu düşündüm. Belki çeviri yetersizdi veya beni tatmin etmedi, bilmiyorum. Üçlemenin ilk kitabı olduğundan, sadece düğümler atılmış gibiydi aynı zamanda. Tüm seriyi okuduğumda üç yıldızı hak etme konusunda fikrimin değişebileceğini düşünüyorum.

Yine de rahat okunan ve fantastik bir kurguya sahip olsa da kolay anlaşılan bir kitap. Yedinci oğlun yedinci oğlu olan Genç Alvin ve meşale Peggy olağanüstü özelliklere sahip ola
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
My boyfriend bought this for me because he's a huge Iron Maiden fan and discovered that they named the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album after this book. Knowing I'm more of a book person than he is, he thought I'd like it. I really liked the seventh son concept, that Alvin has magic, and I loved the idea of setting the story in an alternate American setting. The name-dropping was cool too, so we could see what would have happened to historical figures like Ben Franklin, George Washington and t ...more
Fred D
Jan 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This was the first book I ever read by Orson Scott Card. I instantly fell in love with his writing style and storytelling ability. I couldn't put the book down. I was totally sucked in. The whole concept of a fantasy novel based on early American history where folk magic is real is a very original and appealing idea in fantasy fiction. It makes this novel and it's sequels among the most original fantasy novels I've ever read. I totally identified with the main character Alvin and came to deeply ...more
Althea Ann
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 n
Nov 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listenupvermont
I've been listening to this on during my commutes, and I find it reviting. After the first couple chapters, I couldn't help thinking that this would be great material to adapt for a Dogs in the Vineyard game.

Settlers on a frontier, with folk-magic and religous fundamentalism, and richly-textured characters.

I borrowed this audiobook from Listen Up! Vermont, and this production features several different voice actors narrating chapters with focus on different characters to great effect.

I haven't
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th
More about Orson Scott Card...

Other Books in the Series

Tales of Alvin Maker (6 books)
  • Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, #2)
  • Prentice Alvin (Tales of Alvin Maker, #3)
  • Alvin Journeyman (Tales of Alvin Maker, #4)
  • Heartfire (Tales of Alvin Maker, #5)
  • The Crystal City (Tales of Alvin Maker, #6)
“A duel is just two murders who agree to take turns trying to kill each other.” 14 likes
“There are hundreds of possible causes for every effect, and a hundred possible effects for every cause.” 5 likes
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