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Seventh Son

(Tales of Alvin Maker #1)

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  33,220 ratings  ·  1,499 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.
Mass Market Paperback, First mass market edition, 241 pages
Published April 1988 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC (first published July 1st 1987)
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Ri I haven't read 100 Cupboards, but its publication date is almost 10 years after Seventh Son's publication.
Micah Burke Ultimately, yes. Though encapsulated in a veneer of fantasy tropes, the author has much to say about orthodox Christianity, and none of it is positive…moreUltimately, yes. Though encapsulated in a veneer of fantasy tropes, the author has much to say about orthodox Christianity, and none of it is positive.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  33,220 ratings  ·  1,499 reviews


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Lyn
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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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 non-Mormons, 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 ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
A. Dawes
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I went into this as an ignoramus, not knowing much about Mormons and the influence that the religious ideology has on Card's work. In fact, my knowledge of the faith largely comes from a South Park episode, which had me in stitches.

A lot of the negative reviews refer to Card's faith, but coming in cold, I can honestly say that I loved this novel, and had no idea of any overt religious aims.

I'm not necessarily a fan of fate and the fact that Alvin is the seventh son of the seventh son and there
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Wanda
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
Kristen
Jan 29, 2015 rated it did not like it
DNF

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
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Werner
Sep 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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Fran
Dec 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Let's start by the good things in this book:

-I like how Scott Card uses language to convey a whole place and moment in time.
-I think that, although the ending is open enough to leave important questions unanswered, there's a level of satisfaction about it that makes for a good closure (for all those, like me, who don't plan to read the whole series, more about that on the things i didn't like).
-There are glimpses of what cultural assimilation means for those who had been conquered showing the t
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Stephen
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)
Kara 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
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drowningmermaid
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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Mike
Welcome to the 1800s Ohio Territory frontier, in a alternative reality where the Americas were not only a haven for religious freedom, but a haven for magical freedom as well. North American colonies have united without revolution, and the those seeking freedom to practice their "knack" push forward to the West.

Envisioned as an epic poem based in American folklore, and expanded into a seven-volume saga of Alvin Maker, seventh son of a seventh son, this is the initial story of Alvin, parents and
...more
Kenneth Pierce
Feb 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Katie
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Kat  Hooper
Jul 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Michael
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
...more
Joey
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?...no 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
V.
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.

Nope.

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
...more
JennanneJ
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read of an alternate, magical American history. Good characters. I'm still a bit confused what the heck is going on. Already reserved books 2 & 3 at the library... ...more
Jamio
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
...more
Dani
Oct 19, 2009 rated it it was ok
**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
...more
Kevin King
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Radu Stanculescu
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
May 03, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Damon
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
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.
Thomas J. Benedict
Feb 18, 2018 added it
Shelves: dnf
DNF. Very strong beginning. Terribly booooring middle. Too much religious stuff. My time is too precious to be reading this crap when there’s a billion better books out there. #AintNobodyGotTimeFoDat

My GR friends were right.
Life lesson: trust GR buddies’ ratings as they are good predictors of your own experience of a book. (Most of the time.)

Orson Scott Card let me down this time. “Sad.” 🍊
Rhonda Johnson
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Card uses the universal point of view so readers can engage with the characters. Yet, he avoids the confusion caused by what some call “head hopping.”

When I got to the end of the book, I was relieved to find that although this is part of an epic series, Card doesn’t end with a cliff hanger instead, he ends with a satisfying return on my emotional investment in the characters and plot.

I recommend this first step in the journey of Alvin Miller.
Miss Stamm
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I forgot a lot from this since I read it in high school. I hope as Alvin jr. grows he can understand his place, how he's important, and learn how to use his skills.
Elisabeth
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
I liked the story idea, the special characteristics passed on to the seventh son of the seventh son, but I could not quite get on board of the whole wholly religious environment. It just did not speak to me at all in a way that I could relate to it (which is irrelevant of my own thoughts)
Elizabeth
Sep 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nevermind
I don't mind some Mormonism. I've read a lot of books I liked that were Mormon. But golly that was too much for me.
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16,882 followers
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

Other books in the series

Tales of Alvin Maker (7 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)
  • Master Alvin

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