Alvin Journeyman: Talks too much

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsAlvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card fantasy book reviewsAlvin Journeyman by Orson Scott Card

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 him for that golden plow. The prosecutor is none other than Daniel Webster.

Alvin’s brother Calvin, who is jealous of Alvin, has gone to Europe to learn from Napoleon Bonaparte. While he’s there, he meets a young lawyer who is also a Maker and, inadvertently, sends him to Alvin’s defense. Meanwhile, Peggy, who continues to watch over Alvin and Calvin, is on a crusade to end slavery. She’d also like to ruin William “Tippecanoe” Harrison’s chance of being elected president. When she realizes that Alvin is in danger, she goes to warn him and picks up a transformed Mike Fink along the way.

Alvin Journeyman, which won the 1996 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, is the fourth book in Orson Scott Card’s TALES OF ALVIN MAKER. There were some great moments in Alvin Journeyman, such as when the slave finders try to identify Arthur Stuart, but at this point in the series, the plot has slowed drastically and this book feels like a detour. Alvin spends most of his time in jail and most of the word count consists of characters’ verbal sparring with each other, usually in a teasing manner. Some of this is clever, but it becomes increasingly tiresome. The same thing happened with Card’s ENDER WIGGIN series. Orson Scott Card’s characters talk too much. I’m ready for everyone to shut up and get moving. Come on, let’s go!

I’m still listening to Blackstone Audio’s version which is very good. To their credit, the narrators don’t appear to be as bored as I am.


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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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