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    Review of THE CRYSTAL CITY by Orson Scott Card (see his website)


    TOR, November 2003

    When his wife sends him to New Barcelona (New Orleans), Alvin Maker goes even though he is uncertain of his goal. What he discovers is Yellow Fever and oppression. Even Alvin's 'maker' powers are unable to completely defeat the disease, but he resolves to do something about the oppression faced by slaves, freed blacks, and the French inhabitants of the city. Like Moses, Alvin must find a way to lead the oppressed into a promised land. Unlike the Israelites, however, Alvin's task is doubly challenging because he doesn't want to violate laws and force other people out of their country.

    Along with his friends, Abraham Lincoln and Arthur Stuart--who is quickly becoming a maker himself, Alvin struggles to find a path. Unfortunately, Alvin's brother Calvin, Steve Austin, and Jim Bowie have other plans and do everything they can to hamper Alvin. And Alvin's pregnant wife looks into the future and sees only destruction and death for everything that she and Alvin have fought for. But although the power of the unmaker is overwhelming, Alvin refuses to give up his dream of a Crystal City of Makers, working together to build something wonderful and something that will last beyond his own death.

    Author Orson Scott Card (see more reviews of novels by Card) creates a wonderful and enduring character in Alvin Maker. Card has become one of the best SF/Fantasy authors writing today and THE CRYSTAL CITY reflects Card at the height of his power. Although THE CRYSTAL CITY is an engrossing read, for me it lacks some of the pure emotional power of the earlier novels in this series. In THE RED PROPHET and ALVIN JOURNEYMAN, for example, I often found myself in tears at the pure power of the story. CRYSTAL CITY falls somewhat short of this. That doesn't, however, make the novel less than engrossing and enjoyable.

    If you're new to this series, you'll find your enjoyment enhanced by starting at the beginning, SEVENTH SON (buy it from Amazon). If you've been following the series, you'll definitely want to read this one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 12/26/03

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