PRENTICE ALVIN is the third volume of "The Tales of Alvin Maker", Orson Scott Card's alternate history of an America which looks quite different from our own and in which fol magic is real. After his travels with Ta-Kumsaw in RED PROPHET, the young protagonist finally reaches his birthplace Hatrack River, where he is to become an apprentice smith.
As with RED PROPHET, the first 40 or so pages introduces the reader to faraway events that nonetheless are to have great effects on Alvin's life. Having shown the turmoil of the Native Americans under the westward migration of White settlers, Card now turns to America's other suffering people, the Black slaves in the Crown Colonies and Appalachee, and a slave owner who receives terrible instructions from Alvin's archenemy, the Unmaker. Alvin may have caught a glimpse of his destiny as a Maker from Tenskwa-Tawa in RED PROPHET, but in PRENTICE ALVIN he comes to learn exactly how to harness his knack and how he will eventually build the Crystal City.
While I enjoy this series, I found PRENTICE ALVIN to be a low point. Alvin arrives in Hatrack River seeming like a normal 11 year-old boy, but you'd think his year-long adventure with Ta-Kumsaw in RED PROPHET, who took him from Lake Superior to Florida and everywhere in between, would have made more of a mark. And while the novel can be read speedily, it still seems too long and full of awkward meditations. The violent ending and unveiling of Peggy also seems unbelievable.
Nonetheless, these form no reason for me to not recommend The Tales of Alvin Maker, I find this an immensely entertaining series and PRENTICE ALVIN has its place.