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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315

Third of The Tales of Alvin Maker, Prentice Alvin takes Alvin through his apprenticeship in the fantasy world that duplicates the United States in the nineteenth century, but with the difference that magic is possible. In 1811, when he is eleven years old, Alvin leaves his home in the frontier settlement of Vigor Church in the Noisy River Territory and travels to Hatrack River in the Hio Territory, the place of his birth. There he becomes apprentice to Makepeace Smith.

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For the next seven years, Alvin learns the smith's craft, and at the same time, he learns the craft of Making. This requires two teachers: the hard and jealous blacksmith and the woman who loves Alvin and who, in her own apprenticeship, teaches herself to be his teacher. She is Peggy Guester, the visionary girl who saved his life many times in Seventh Son and Red Prophet. Alvin knows he is a Maker, endowed with magical powers which, if he learns to use them correctly, will allow him to help create the Crystal City, a kind of Utopia that the Unmaker, the power of destruction in the cosmos, will never be able to unmake. But he needs to learn how to use those powers. In Seventh Son and Red Prophet, Alvin learned that the normal processes of creating order out of chaos must ultimately fail, the universe coming to an end in entropy unless human beings can learn to put unmaking on the defensive, by finding a way for the processes of making to balance the processes of unmaking. The Crystal City is Alvin's vision, given to him in Red Prophet, of a society in which all people value creation over destruction and use their powers, natural and magical, to sustain creation. During his apprenticeship, with great difficulty, Alvin learns how to make the Crystal City real, and he begins the complex struggle toward that goal.

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