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Alvin Journeyman

(Tales of Alvin Maker #4)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  15,302 ratings  ·  289 reviews
Alvin Miller, a gifted seventh son of a seventh son, utilizes his skills as a Maker to help create a brighter future for America, but his task is further challenged by his ancient enemy, the Unmaker, who plots to end Alvin's life.
Hardcover, 381 pages
Published December 1st 2005 by Tor Books (first published September 1995)
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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In his introduction, Card acknowledges that when "Alvin Journeyman" was first published, some fans had been waiting several years for the next installment in the series. Had I been one of those fans, I would have probably been really annoyed that I'd waited a long time and only got "Alvin Journeyman."

Just as is the case with the later Ender novels, the Alvin series seems to have descended into a series where people sit around and have lots of philosophical conversations that, while interesting,
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I have a lot to think about, with respect to this book. On one hand, the author has set up an alternate history of the growth of America, one with a better chance for Native Americans, and a somewhat better chance for Blacks. It's only the early 1800s, and there is still much hate, fear, and inequality, but given the weight of actual history, I'm not sure he could have done much better.

On the other hand, he's a straight white LDS guy, writing at a time that the majority of SF&F readers were stra
Jun 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of alternate history fantasies
Card continues his top-notch storytelling in this fourth volume of Alvin's saga. One of my Goodreads friends was distinctly displeased with this installment, complaining that it brought the series no closer to its resolution, and introduced characters and subplots only for the sake of lengthening the story. My take on these points, though, is quite different. The characters and subplots don't simply lengthen the saga; they add depth and complexity to it. You can tell a great (in the epic sense) ...more
Kat  Hooper
Oct 19, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted at FanLit.

Alvin Miller is finally a journeyman blacksmith and a Maker. He’s back home in Vigor Church, trying to teach others his Making skills because he believes he needs Makers to create the Crystal City he’s dreamed of. But the Unmaker is hard at work, trying to unravel Alvin’s plans. With the help of a girl who has a crush on Alvin, the Unmaker manages to get Alvin to flee back to Hatrack River where Makepeace Smith is waiting to sue
2.5 stars?

This is such a weird alternate history series! Welcome to a North America that has been torqued into a strange shape by this author. The race relations have a really odd feel, with Indigenous people retreated to an area beyond a river and a mysterious bank of cloud which prevents Caucasians from visiting them. Black people’s lives are more similar to actual history, with slaves, slave finders, and free people of colour (who nonetheless face discrimination).

The most obvious theme in thi
Mridupawan  Podder
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Rating a book is never easy. And the worst mistake one does is my comparing a book with another. This book deserves a solid 4 star.

Orson Scott Card is no Brandon Sanderson or Patrick Rothfuss. Those guys get 5 stars just for being them. Everything is different from their books. From the pace of the tale to the language it speaks to you, from the intricate magical systems to minimalist plot lines. I've seen people give 3 stars to Robin Hobb just because it didn't entice them as much as Abercombi
Jan 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, i-own-ebook
With book four the series starts to slow again and characters are made to retread old paths. Alvin returns home and attempts to train more Makers. While it starts to feel as if the first three books peaked with Prentice Alvin, then we're now on the other side of that hill and Card is trying to restart the story somewhat. To an extent this is borne out just from the publishing schedule - books 1 through 3 were published a year apart, this one took a six year jump for him to get back to world of A ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Love the “alternate” history in this series.
Miss Stamm
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From the books of this series I've read so far, this one was very good. I didn't enjoy Calvin's parts as much, but he always does a good job of setting up the next book.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
It has been said that any plot which depends on a dramatic courtroom trial is doomed to mediocrity. ALVIN JOURNEYMAN, unfortunately, is one of those plots. In this fourth instalment of Orson Scott Card's alternate-history and Mormon allegory "The Tales of Alvin Maker", Alvin is put on trial for his life. We, the readers, spend half the book being dragged through courtroom melodrama with a protagonist the reader is having a hard time caring about any more.

At the end of PRENTICE ALVIN, Alvin finis
Storyline: 2/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing Style: 4/5
World: 3/5

As I started the book I was immediately struck by the off-beat and heavy-handed writing. I have liked every book in the series thus far, and I wondered if somehow my mood had changed, or my favorable prejudices had been smoothed over, and if this is what critics of the writing and series had found so off-putting. It turned out that I needn't have worried. There was, admittedly, that first section with an omniscient narrator droning on in a
Simon Mcleish
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in May 2000.

After a gap of a few years, Card has continued this series, one of my favourites of the fantasy genre. It is set in a fascinating alternate history USA in which much of the country remains in the hands of the colonial powers, and where magic is relatively commonplace.

Alvin Journeyman picks up the story of Alvin (usually referred to as Smith or Maker, from his occupation and magical gifting respectively) where the previous books left off, and carri
Sep 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm well and hooked on this series now. I love the ease with which Card writes in dialect and the sort of rant that the narrator goes on in the first chapter. What was tough about this one is that I really hate misunderstandings that build and build through a story based on gossip and or lies and it's hard for me to stomach witch-hunt type trials, so what Alvin faces in this book grated on me. It's also rough to watch him be so clueless about the jealousy of his brother Calvin and just watch tha ...more
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
For quite some time now, I have been trying to pinpoint the exact date when one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card, officially made the jump from writing understated, powerful novels about fundamentally good, human, exquisitely rendered characters in fantastical settings, to writing over-analyzed crap with too much dialogue, too much pontificating about political machinations and without a single bloody word edited out.

Having read both Prentice Alvin and Alvin Journeyman within the past 24
Feb 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Luisa by: Luiz Letti
The title to this one is a bit misleading, I guess, considering that Alvin barely journeys at all in the book. However, a lot of interesting things do happen in that one place he's in most of the time. Calvin is just getting stranger and a bit crazy even. Romance is more visible on this book, as are the subtler intreagues of the Unmaker. I dunno. More talk, less action, but still fun. I really enjoy the new character, the Lawyer from England. He sounds like a good person and I love his rhetoric ...more
Feb 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Trudging through the first chapter I wanted to scream. If I didn't already know that I enjoy reading books by this author I would have tossed the book. I'm sure as I continue through the story this memory will fade, but ... I just started the book, and the pain is still fresh.


But now it's finished, and that was good reading--especially the legal bit with the court case. I liked how it was wrapped up where much of the trouble started, where Mr. Dowser had said for the well to be dug.
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved the judge in the trial scenes. Some great character development all through the town of Hatrack River. Loved the nasty, jealous brother, Calvin (not his nastiness, just for the drama he created). However, I just have not warmed up to Peggy. Last time I liked her was in Book 2. I can't give away what happened to her in Book 3, but read it yourself and tell me whether you agree or not.

Also, every time the story veers toward the Red Man, I say to myself, "Huh? What? How much longer do I have
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, maps
Yeap, just kept getting sillier. More extraneous characters, more side plots for the sake of drawing things out, less progress toward the resolution of the series.

Suddenly, Card introduces a third person framing narrative in the opening and closing chapters of the fourth book of the series. Why? Ask him.

Not sure if I'll read any more. Card is a great storyteller, but he has unraveled his story so badly that I'm not terribly interested how it ends.
Margy Levine Young
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoy the Ender series, be sure to read the Alvin Maker series.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
With this fourth book in the Alvin Maker series, I’m starting to see why a lot of writers like to stick to trilogies. If anything, I think most readers can probably skip this volume and move on to the next one because there wasn’t anything too new or interesting that happened in it. If anything, it was a re-hash of events in the previous book with a few new characters added to it. I will concede that Alvin Journeyman did finally develop a fitting antagonist for Alvin. Still, so few pages were de ...more
Nov 24, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: catalogued
Find this and the rest of my reviews at:

At this point I'm seriously groaning, wondering how I'm ever going to finish reviewing this series. Tales of Alvin Maker and Stephen King's Dark Tower series are what prompted me to stop reviewing for almost a year and a half - simply because these two series are too big and too badly written for me to enjoy the process of reviewing them properly. 

Between the white saviour nonsense, the white guilt, the fetishizatio
Matt Marchand
Dec 09, 2019 rated it liked it
If you have enjoyed the previous 3 books, Alvin Journeyman would still fit your taste. The beginning of this book annoyed me as it was an author/narrator basically telling people with complaints about the previous books to go grab a shovel. However, I do feel like this book is more polished than some of the others. There were a lot of interesting things that happened in this book, but nothing truly spectacular. There is still a sense of plot destiny that makes it seem like there are never any pr ...more
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
This time around Alvin is on trial. Not even kidding. Most of the book is taken up by Alvin going back to stand trial for 'stealing' the golden plow from Makepeace. It's actually a surprisingly decently plot and we get a lot more worldbuilding, including two different viewpoints in Europe. In one, we have a lawyer with a knack of his own who wants to learn from Alvin and looks to be a new main character. In the other, Alvin's brother Calvin's adventures in France, meeting Napoleon.

Ben Lund
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
OSC a la John Grisham. This book revolves around a court case as Alvin returns to Hatrack River for the third? time. For all the talk of being the whole American Frontier, Alvin seems to move between Hatrack RIver and Vigor Church almost exclusively.

Anyway, court case so OSC puts on his lawyer hat as Makepeace Smith gets Alvin into more trouble. I liked this book more then the previous 3 mostly because I feel like some major things happen, and things start to get moving. Maybe it's because I am
Steve R
The fourth volume in 'The Tales of Alvin Maker series', this 1995 novel deals with Alvin's work as a blacksmith, and more significantly, as a 'Maker in a village, his struggles against the powerful 'Unmaker' and his dreams of one day building a visionary city. A penultimate trial is brought about by the evil machinations of Alvin's adversary, and he finds himself prosecuted by Daniel Webster. Meanwhile, Alvin's brother Calvin travels to France and uses his 'knack' to help treat Napoleon for his ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
There's something about the 4th book in a long usually ends up just being a "bridge" book- linking the plot that's been building from the first few books, to the resolution of the plot in the last book or two. That's basically what this book was, I felt like nothing incredibly significant happened, but it got me ready to see how the conflicts will resolve over the last 2 novels of the series. Which is ok. I can be patient....
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
The story of Joseph Smith, including the number of book of mormon witnesses, martin harris, accusations of dalliances with under aged women, prosceliting to the family and surrounding regions, mystical powers, etc. Granted it also includes intrigue and moves the story along a tiny bit, though disappointingly little and ties up loose ends that didn't really seem to ever matter and spends way to much time on it. The trial is pointless and takes forever.
James Burton
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having read the previous volumes in this series, the language and 'way of telling' has settled down with me now though can still take a while to bed in after an absence.
I like the more modern outlook to slavery referred to often, rather than the uncomfortable 'Republican' view, for which I am grateful; the story carries a gentleness of heart, yet does not steer away from man's cruelties and shame. A worthy read; now on to the next!
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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

Other books in the series

Tales of Alvin Maker (8 books)
  • Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker, #1)
  • Red Prophet (Tales of Alvin Maker, #2)
  • Prentice Alvin (Tales of Alvin Maker, #3)
  • Heartfire (Tales of Alvin Maker, #5)
  • The Crystal City (Tales of Alvin Maker, #6)
  • Master Alvin
  • Seventh Son and Red Prophet

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