Trailer Â Seventh Son PDF by ñ Orson Scott Card 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.
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 explanation I ve come across for some of the rather troubling aspects of Mormonism Joseph Smith, before he had his revelation from God and began his own church, was involved in witchcraft Particularly, getting people to pay him for his divination skills that would allow him to find them buried treasure He never found any treasure, but he did make a decent supplement to his income by well, conning people, for which he was eventually arrested Thoughtful, intelligent Mormons, such as Card, need an explanation for this The most common explanation is what is seen here Joseph Smith was involved in white magic, a kind of light witchcraft that coexists perfectly with Christianity, and indeed expresses it better than churches do Card creates an entire world of good magic, hexes, and light not witchcraft, at war with the stuffy science of the Old World.
Unfortunately, for me, the simple answer will always make sense Smith was a quasi religious fraud, who grew up to be a rather successful quasi religious fraud Also, according to the records left by eyewitnesses, Smith s white magic involved animal sacrifice, circles of blood on the ground, and calling on dark spirits at midnight That seems to cross a line.
This would have been four stars, except for the ending, where Card makes another of his hideous evangelical caricatures portraying traditional Christians as demon possessed, rather lacking in discernment, and dangerous Sorry, Orson, but these Christians of yours are just as bad as the miserly Jews and bumbling Negroes of centuries past, and just as revelatory of LDS prejudice against evangelicals Not that evangelicals don t have their own stereotypes and prejudices against Mormons.
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 therefore wields powers, but any fan of fantasy knows that fate often plays a role How many times does Gandalf speak of it in LOTR Countless fantasy novels use similar tropes, so it didn t bother me either What I admired is the wonderful prose, which comes alive in terms of both voice and imagery along with the courageous exploration of an America with an alternative history This is a marvelous example of the dynamism of speculative fiction So, outside of a comical South Park episode, which basically defines Mormonism as dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb Card s beliefs had no influence on my reading of this enjoyable novel.
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 any 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 allow religion to separate them anyway I always think the bonds between people are important than any religion at all ever.
Now the actual review.
OSC what HAPPENED to you You used to know how to write This was the first book I read by you It shaped my paradigm If there was any lecturing about family values it was SUBTLE You even had a character who wasn t religious and didn t vilify him You showed him as a loving father who loved his wife but just didn t want to go to church You used to be able to tell a good, strong story full of awesome images.
Now it s just nag nag nag It s too depressing to compare this book to Ender in Exile That book just isn t as strong because every character is taken over to lecture the audience, and who wants that I do not I want a good book.
Like this one May 10, 2014 read it again It s still good It doesn t fill me with rage the way Ender s Game does or Lost Boys or so many other books I liked by OSC one does Why can t he still write this way 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 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 religious denominations, a situation which is resolved by a religious vision In addition, Smith suffered from a bone infection in his boyhood, although presumably not from having a mill stone fall on his leg, the scenario in Seventh Son Interestingly, Joseph Smith had an older brother named Alvin For all these details of Smith s life, I am reliant on Wikipedia not the most reliable of sources, but not the worst either.
Add to that the alternative history aspect of the story a North America which gets settled and governed in a radically different way George Washington, for example, gets beheaded for treason Here the hex signs on the Pennsylvania Dutch barns which began as pure decoration are used to suggest a whole practical magical system for this timeline and the author presumes that they actually spoke Dutch rather than Deutsch Add to that a rather odd Puritan set of names for characters Alvin s twin brothers Wastenot and Wantnot, for instance and his brother Calm Somehow this odd mixture of religions does make a rather understandable system Seventh Son s main character, Alvin, does suffer rather badly from chosen one syndrome, but as a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, it seems he just can t help it He is destined to be special because seven is viewed as being such a lucky number In addition to his birth order, Alvin is born with a caul membrane over his face yet another omen of a child destined for great deeds Card has pulled out all the stops and made Alvin into the special est snowflake that he possibly could.
I have to say that the religiousness of the book s characters especially in the beginning was a bit off putting for me, but by about half way through I had reached some kind of stasis and was enjoying the story However, I found the ending rather abrupt At least there wasn t a cliff hanger, but a reader wanting to know how things end will very obviously have to continue reading the series.
This was book number 210 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.
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 given just the right sort of pressure The frontier remains wild, for now, but civilization continues its inexorable march west.
Alvin is the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, his father also coincidentally named Alvin He s from a family of millers, and he is good at everything however, he is also prone to accidents, because a malevolent force wants him dead Unlike certain other boy prodigies, Alvin does not have a love powered lightning bolt scar on his forehead However, he does have a well meaning but anonymous protector who is watching out for him, so that s something.
I guess I was underwhelmed by Seventh Son The first few chapters were difficult, but once Taleswapper came in and Alvin grew up a little, the book fell into a rhythm that I enjoyed Yet for all the interesting interactions between Taleswapper and the Miller family, between Reverend Thrower and the Visitor, between Alvin and his Shining Man, I never got the sense that the book was going anywhere There s conflict and a proper climax and falling action and everything that you need to make a story but it s a coming of age tale that never really comes of age, and that left me unsatisfied.
My apathy or perhaps harshness might be a result of the setting Revolutionary America does not tickle my fancy the way Tudor England does, and while I cannot apologize for my preferences, it s possible those who find this era fascinating will be charitable towards alternate history about it But I keep thinking about how Seventh Son stacks up against Ender s Game, and while that is a battle the former could never possibly win, I think it s useful to examine why I liked one Card book so much and disliked another albeit not with proportional intensity Ender s Game is a seductive, heartbreaking book Card gives us a victory for humanity, but in so doing he breaks Ender in the way a child should never be broken These are the two foci around which the ellipse of the story revolves the moral impact of the book comes from that central question of whether Ender s treatment and, on the periphery, the treatment of all the children at Battle School was justified by the threat to humanity It s an extremely deep yet also entertaining tale.
In contrast, Seventh Son is about a kid with magic powers who breaks his leg It has a vast and unknowable enemy that is Satan rebranded as a force of pure, neutral destruction the Unmaker to Alvin s role as Maker It sounds titanic and epic and should be awesome and that s just the problem Alvin s a boy He doesn t know what he s doing He can barely decide to use his power to heal himself, the result of an admirable but perhaps misguided attempt at creating some kind of personal code of ethics Unlike Ender s role in his story s larger conflict, however, I don t sense much ambiguity over Alvin s destiny to oppose the Unmaker As a larger than life force that, in some sense, is essentially impossible to defeat, the Unmaker is an ultimate Other.
Unknowable enemies are almost as bad as crazy enemies It s unfortunate that Reverend Thrower seems to be going that way, because he starts the book as a fairly interesting character I enjoyed getting inside his head and seeing his rational mind attempt to reconcile superstition, religion, and science hopefully he understands why Newton decided to go into alchemy Yet as the book progresses and the Unmaker seems to get and desperate, Thrower degenerates into a Renfield like character with little intelligence or ambition of his own.
For what it s worth, Seventh Son is well written, provided you can tolerate the dialect Card throws in for good measure There were times when I could ignore my issues with the story and simply enjoy the experience of reading this book and that is something to write home about In the end, though, the road Card asks us to walk is a long one, and I m not entirely sure the destination is worth it.
DNFI 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 wouldn t be opposed to giving this another try in the future, but as of now I m moving on.
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 in the young childhood, of Alvin Miller, the uniquely gifted Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, born into a frontier America in which the folk magic of our world s old superstitions actually works and plays a significant part in people s lives But this isn t the only difference between this world and ours Here, Oliver Cromwell lived to be 97, so England s Puritan Commonwealth never fell, while the exiled Stuarts emigrated to the Southern colonies and maintained their rule there While the Puritans in England were able to keep their grip on New England largely populated by their co religionists , neither English group could dislodge the Dutch and the Swedes, or the French, from the New World so Alvin s America is a much polyglot and decentralized place than the real one Canada is still a French colony here, and France is still a monarchy there was no French Revolution, because there was no bloody American Revolution to inspire it Instead, Ben Franklin was able to parlay the intrigues of the two English governments for influence in the middle colonies into acceptance of the peaceful formation of an independent United States as a buffer, made up of the seaboard lands between Virginia and New England and uniting the former English, Dutch and Swedish colonies and with the Iroquois territory admitted as an Indian ruled state The American Compact excludes slavery, provides for religious freedom and democracy, and models an ethnic harmony that the one in our world didn t quite achieve so Card is here depicting an America that might have been, as a model and inducement for a real one that could be.
The author s cosmology is as original as his alternate history The universe, he posits, has a secret ultimate enemy, the Unmaker unlike Satan, who only wants to dominate it, the Unmaker wants to annihilate everything that exists There are similarities here to the premise of Holly Lisle s Minerva Wakes, with its cosmic struggle between the Unweaver and the human Weavers who stand against him but Card s vision is shaped by a theistic framework The Unmaker s human opponent is Alvin, born to be a supernaturally powered Maker and young Peg, the torch, or seeress, who assisted at his birth recognizes in his endowments the hand of power of God.
Religion plays a significant role in the book an important character is a clergyman, Alvin s home community centers around a church, his mother is a devout woman, and an even important character is Bill Taleswapper Blake the William Blake of our world, here an immigrant to the New World and an itinerant teller of tales, but as mystically oriented and full of yearning to be a true prophet as his real world counterpart Card, of course, is a Mormon, which undoubtedly influences his worldview some reviewers have seen the series as Mormon propaganda, and it seems clear that Alvin is destined to play a role as pivotal here as Joseph Smith s in our world But from what I ve read so far, it isn t clear that Alvin s religious message will be what we know as Mormonism The author s portrayal of some of the worst aspects of early 19th century institutionalized religion, and of the capacity of decent people to be deceived into doing profoundly wrong things in the name of religion, comes through loud and clear but this is a critique that can also be echoed by evangelicals, and Card s basically equalitarian treatment of women doesn t reflect traditional Mormon sexism.
The quality of the writing, the world building and characterizations here are all top notch Card s dialogue and narration are leavened with humor in places I read the book out loud to my wife, and she frequently laughed aloud at droll exchanges or comments But there are also plenty of serious, even poignant, moments, and some beautifully lyrical prose in places The narrative is well paced and absorbing All in all, it s a really impressive series beginning Now, it s on to the second installment, Red Prophet.
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
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