I can hardly keep up with the reviews as I devour this series. This is the third book in the Alvin Maker series and it was as delightful as the first book. The story arc actually begins where the first book ended...with Alvin going off to become an apprentice black smith. The second book actually veered young Alvin from this path for a year...but now he's arrived in Hatrack River, the town where he was born.
Makepeace Smith, the master blacksmith quickly becomes jealous of Alvin and there's a lot of wonderful character development by Card via this relationship. Slavery becomes a predominant theme in this book. We see the unmaker work on the evil intentions of a slave owner, Calvil Planter, to give him the idea that God wants him to raise the black man to civilization via fathering as many children on his female slaves and selling them to other plantations to spread his white blood amongst the black slaves. It's a horrible tale wonderfully told about how Satan (the Unmaker in the books) works with people's evil desires and convinces them they are actually doing God's work. This happened before in the series with the Reverend Thrower who convinced himself he was talking to an angel.
The first of the slaves to give birth to one of Calvil's children uses African magic to fly away with her baby son. She is rescued by Horace Guester (Peggy's dad0 by dies the next day. The Guester's decide to raise the 'mixup child' as their own....and he goes on to become a main character in the following books.
We don't have much of Peggy -- the young torch (see's people's possible futures) who's been watching and protecting Alvin ever since he was born. She sees herself in an unhappy marriage to Alvin and so she runs off to avoid being there when Alvin arrives.
There is so much really good character development with regard to parents and children, husbands and wives, slavery, the nature of evil. I always come away with a better insight into the human condition when I read Orson Scott Card's work.
This book is wonderful in the ways the first book was. You could almost skip the second book if you wanted to