Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Red Prophet

The second part of the Alvin Maker series by Orson Scott Card is entitled Red Prophet. This story is essentially a parallel novel to the first book in the series, Seventh Son. However, about a third of the way into the story the timelines and story arcs align to where Seventh Son ended up. We are reintroduced to the Alvin Miller, the seventh son of a seventh son, a 10 year old boy living with his family on the frontier of a young America back in the early 1800s. It was foretold upon his birth that he was destined to be a maker, although Alvin has no idea what this actually means. What he does know is that he has been gifted with a knack of knowing how to affect matter, whether that is healing himself or others, or coaxing a millstone from a cliff face.

The main story arc deals with the conflicts between the native Indians who are being forced off of their ancestral lands by the European settlers. In rapid order the white man has swept from the eastern coast to the Ohio valley laying claim to whatever they desired. The Indians tribes are caught between two powerful leaders, the brothers Ta-kumsaw, who is trying to rally an overwhelming force to push the white man back into the sea by whatever means necessary, and Lolla-Wossiky, a prophet who values all men and wishes to broker peace and compromise. The new Americans along the frontier are being directed by one Bill Harrison (a fictionalized version of William Henry Harrison, 9th U.S. president) who will use whatever sleazy means he can to rouse the white population up against the Indians. Caught in the middle of this is one Alvin Miller who uses his nascent powers to help out as best he can given his morality, his conscience, and his loyalties.

The story was enjoyable overall, but did tend to get bogged down and drawn out several times. In some ways it wasn't as crisply and tidily written as Seventh Son, but given some of the undercurrents that Card built into this narrative that weren't fully developed or used as a focus of the story, it is clear that he is building up to something that will require patience. I move onto the third novel in the series, Prentice Alvin.