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Heartfire: The Tales of Alvin Maker, Volume V Mass Market Paperback – May 15 1999

3.5 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy; 1 edition (May 15 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812509242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812509243
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.5 x 17.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 113 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #258,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

This is the fifth novel in Orson Scott Card's popular Alvin the Maker series, based on an alternate America where some people are born with knacks, which resemble magical abilities. The protagonist of the series, Alvin, is a maker who not only can fix things (such as restoring a wounded bird to health with his doodlebug) but is also something of a natural leader. Alvin and his small band of followers are on a quest to build the Crystal City, a place where those who have knacks can live in safety from the people who sometimes burn them as witches. While Alvin visits the nearly holy province of New England to find out just how cities work, his wife Margaret, traveling under the name Peggy, journeys to the kingdom of Camelot, which was formerly known as Charleston, South Carolina. There she hopes to persuade the exiled King Arthur to help her abolish the practice of slavery. Heartfire is an excellent midseries novel that's sure to delight fans of Alvin. --Craig E. Engler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Fifth in Hugo and Nebula winner Card's immensely popular Tales of Alvin Maker, this installment of alternative American history centers around two grievous social wrongs. Arthur Stuart, exiled King of England, reigns in Camelot (Charleston), capital of the slaveholding southern Crown Colonies; in New England, meanwhile, "witchers" connive to execute anyone with the "knack," the ability to connect to the powers of the universe. Just before civil war erupts, telekinetic Alvin and his historical friends, such as John James Audubon, and legendary ones, such as riverman Mike Fink, set about to abolish New England's antiwitch laws, while Alvin's wife and mentor, Margaret, uses her ability to read human souls to offer the hope of freedom to the Colonies' slaves and to heal Alvin's malevolent brother before he can kill her husband. Card's antebellum settings, dialogue and historical figures seem authentic and thoroughly researched, and, as always, he offers excellent differentiation of characters. However, Card is as occasionally windy and preachy as ever, and the plethora of lengthy philosophical and/or psychological digressions make for considerably less fictional sizzle than fizzle. Consider this a good bet for fans of the series, but not for a wider readership.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I originally read this when it first came out, then re-read the series when I got the new book (The Crystal City) for Christmas. This one was not as good as the other books in this series.
The story started off very slow, with a lot of nonsense about Arthur Staurt and Audobon (who could have been left out of the book completely) and birds. While this was explained somwhat at the end of the book, it was still too much and too slow. The book does get better near the end, but by that time, there has been too much junk preceeding it to make it seem worthwhile. The dialogue between Denmark and Gullah Joe is particularly boring and painful to read.
I give this book three stars only because of the characters, which are still great, and the ongoing story of Alvin's quest to build the Crystal City, but it wasn't a great story on its own. If you've read the other books in the series, this one is worth reading just to continue the story, but just barely. I hope the next book can return to the great stories from the previous books, if not, then I hope it will at least be the last in this series.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Make no mistake, I loved "Seventh Son" and felt that my whole appreciation of the fantasy genre was increased tenfold, and it was already quite high. The next two volumes were OK. I felt they were losing sight of the original storyline, but that it might pick up again in later volumes. I was wrong. I wrote a scathing review of the fourth book last year, and I had high hopes of redemption with "Heartfire," but this is one of the worst and strangest books I've ever read.
Where to begin. . .Another boring trial, new characters that do nothing, a heroine named "Chastity" who becomes, instead of a strong female, the girlfriend of Verity as soon as she joins the cast. Most laughable of all, the opinion that witch trials were necessary! In a world where magic is real, I suppose he means, but still. It makes no sense. Alvin goes along with the witch trial because he is in favor of religious government. An acceptable opinion, given proper arguments, which are not provided...
That Alvin and friends would go the New England Colonies to study an ideal society and government makes me twitch with anger. There is a line in "Heartfire" that talks about children in Puritan Massachusetts, something about how there wasn't the sound of an unhappy child anywhere. At first I thought Card was making a joke about how strictly children were treated; parents could and did whip their kids for talking out of turn or not following the rule "seen and not heard." But Card was actually seriously claiming that Puritan children were so well loved and cared for that one never heard them crying...
... I would have liked to read an intelligent defense of Puritanism, but Card does not provide one. There is a Quaker character in the book, but Card doesn't mention what happened to Quakers in the Mass. Bay Colony.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
HEARTFIRE, the fifth book in Orson Scott Card's "Tales of Alvin Maker" series, is a travesty. Card has ruined this formerly interesting history of an alternate America and Mormon allegory. HEARTFIRE kills the series that came before it like CHILDREN OF THE MIND destroyed the Ender Quartet and EARTHBORN wiped out the Homecoming novels.
At the end of ALVIN JOURNEYMAN, Alvin and Peg Guester were wed and travelled to the home of the Weavers in Appalachee. The beginning of HEARTFIRE sees them departed on separate journeys, Peg has gone to the Crown Colonies to find a way to stop the oncoming war over slavery, while Alvin is wandering around the Northeast and eventually finds himself on trial (again) for witchcraft in Puritan-controlled New England.
There is so much wrong with this novel. The plot is sloppily resolved, and indeed it could be said that Peg's half of the story isn't resolved at all but simply abandoned. Card wraps up Alvin's trial in a mere two pages as if he has grown tired of writing this installment. Calvin's redemption seems like it never progressed past the draft stage. In order to hide his shabby plot and silly characterization, Card stoops to a prurient sex scene where Calvin forces himself on a resisting-but-willing dame like something out of a romance novel (of course, that's what the awful cover art makes the book look like).
Alvin Maker is now essentially omnipotent, communicating telepathically with Peg across huge distances and able to run the entire length of the East Coast in a single night (funny how Card constantly talks about how the greensong is too weak now, but has Alvin perform such deeds). This makes Alvin considerably less interesting as a protagonist, as there are no surprises or suspense.
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Format: Hardcover
I am surprised by many of the negative comments about this book-not because the book doesn't have flaws (it does), but because it is easily on par, if not a little better, than the previous books in the series. I agree with other reviewers that each book in the Alvin Maker series cannot stand alone and must be viewed as a 300-page chapter in a longer work. The plot is also rather weak, about a man with all-encompassing magical powers trying to create a utopian city, but these books are not about the Crystal City, any more than LORD OF THE RINGS was about Frodo Baggins and his magic ring. Like Tolkien, Card is using a simple journey plot to give his readers the opportunity to explore a strange new fictional universe.
Unlike traditional fantasy, however, Card's universe is an "alternate" America, circa 1800, similar to the real America except that frontier superstitions, Indian folklore, and African voodoo are all real. Over the course of five books, Card has examined Midwest frontier life, the American Indian struggle, Puritan witch trials, Appalachian mountaineers, French outpost settlements, and opulent Southern slave plantations. We have met numerous historical figures, some accurately depicted, others a mere caricature of their real selves. We have debated religion, politics, and law. It is clear Card is steering us towards a finale where all these subcultures learn to coexist in a true melting pot society.
Like other readers, I too am ready for Card to begin to wrap up the story, but as long as he continues to create such a unique new landscape, and populate it with quirky, textured characters, I'll keep reading.
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