Alvin Journeyman (Tales of Alvin Maker #4)

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.

Unfortunately, it seems like we’ve spent yet another book just spinning in place. Alvin continues to plan on building his Crystal City and training new Makers… but he’s not getting to either any time soon. At the very end, he does manage to marry Peggy and meet up with the Prophet again, but it feels only to set up the next sequel.


Prentice Alvin (Tales of Alvin Maker #3)

On one hand, Prentice Alvin feels quite a lot like the previous two Alvin Maker stories. We have a continuation of the alternate timeline, this time dealing with how apprenticeships and slavery work in this world. We learn more about the town where Alvin was born, which we haven’t seen in a while, including Peggy–the torch who has been keeping an eye on him this entire time.

On the other hand, it doesn’t feel like the story went anywhere. Alvin learns a bit more about his powers, but it’s mostly shades on what he’s known before. He’s still weirdly good at everything. On top of that, he spends seven years apprenticing as a blacksmith–even though he’s better than his master by the time he’s ~13 years old. Peggy runs off, comes back disguised as an old woman, and still doesn’t interact terribly much with Alvin. In end end, we come back to the town where Alvin grew up. Almost a decade has passed, but what really has changed?


Red Prophet (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.


Seventh Son (Tales of Alvin Maker #1)

The world if Seventh Son is fairly fascinating. It’s set in early 1800s somewhere around what would have been Indiana or Ohio in our world, except in this world magic is real. It seems to be based on any number of folk magics turned real and powerful–but apparently only in the New World. Possibly because of that, American history hasn’t gone quite as we remember it. The Iroquois nation became a state. Washing was executed as a traitor. Things aren’t named quite as we know them, which at times gets annoying.

As the seventh son of a seventh son, Alvin Maker Jr is destined to be a Maker, a particularly powerful user of the story’s magic. As such, he’s apparently been hunted by a powerful evil being–the Unmaker–his entire life. He already has hints of that power, although he doesn’t seem to completely realize it at first. Towards the end, he manages to heal what should have been a deadly injury.