Review: Red Prophet

Series: Tales of Alvin Maker: #2

Take a little Magical Native American, a little Noble Savage, and a little White Man’s Burden and you get a pretty good idea of what Red Prophet is like.

So far as I’m concerned, Red Prophet is pretty much a laundry list of don’ts when it comes to writing about Native Americans. They have a preternatural understanding of the natural, unique to them that fall away if they become too ‘white’ (using weapons/tools of European make / drinking alcohol). On top of that, they all seem drawn to extremes, either far better or far worse than the generally more nuanced ‘white’ characters of the book.

Worldbuilding-wise, there are still some very interesting moments. The Eight- Face Mound in particular was interesting–you see something completely different, depending on how you climb it. On the other hand we still don’t really get a good reason why magic only seems to work in the New World, although there are hints that might not be as true as it was thought in the first book (given the character of Napoleon). And Alvin Jr. is becoming far too powerful far too quickly for my tastes. He seems able to do just about anything with little cost to himself.

Plotwise, the first half of the book overlaps with the latter part of Seventh Son, following the story of Lalawasike / The Prophet as he learns about Alvin Jr., is healed, and decides to change the world. As much as Seventh Son felt incomplete, I feel like it would have been a lot better had these sections been included there. At least this time around we get a solid climax that actually makes Red Prophet feel like it can stand alone, while at the same time sowing the seeds of the next in the series.

Overall, it’s still an interesting read and not quite to the point where I want to give up the series. We shall see where it goes from here.