The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The first four volumes of the Tales of Alvin Maker present an alternate nineteenth century American frontier in which supernaturally gifted Alvin Miller sees a vision of peace and works against personal and cosmic forces in an attempt to create the Crystal City, where harmony can reign. At least two more volumes are projected in this series.

Seventh Son presents the boyhood of Alvin, seventh son of a seventh son, who knows the way Earth is knit together. During Alvin’s boyhood, his great enemy, the Unmaker, uses accidents with water to try to kill Alvin. Alvin survives the accidents, learns that he must use his gift to heal rather than for his own pleasure, and receives the earthshaking injunction to “Make all things whole.” The deceived Reverend Philadelphia Thrower, the Unmaker’s chief agent, believes he can best serve God by destroying Alvin.

When water causes a millstone to fall on Alvin’s leg, Taleswapper, a traveling collector of stories, convinces Alvin to use his powers to heal himself. The Reverend Thrower’s efforts to turn the occasion of operating on Alvin’s leg into an opportunity to kill the boy prove unsuccessful. Alvin succeeds in healing himself.

In Red Prophet, Alvin tastes the bitterness of war between Reds (Native Americans) and whites (European settlers) and sees visions of peace. Ambitious Bill Harrison gives the Reds whiskey and desires to take their land. Ta-Kumsaw resolves to heal the land by driving the white man out. Lolla-Wossiky, Ta-Kumsaw’s brother, sends Alvin visions about saving the land and, in his turn, is healed by Alvin. Lolla-Wossiky becomes the Red Prophet, calling for peace and unity.

Harrison bribes Reds to capture and torture white children so that settlers will fight the Reds. The Reds capture Alvin and his brother Measure, but Alvin’s power protects...

(The entire section is 768 words.)