Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

February Books 3) Heartfire

3) Heartfire, by Orson Scott Card

Continuing the mild Mormon theme from yesterday. This is the fifth book in a fantasy series where traditional European folk magic is real and working in early nineteenth century America. For the first time, a helpful map shows that New England remains a puritan, law-based protectorate of England (still under Commonwealth rule) with John Quincy Adams in charge and his elderly father John as a senior judge; after the sudden death of his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, Andrew Jackson presides over the United States, with their capital in Philadelphia; and the Crown Colonies farther south are ruled by the King from Camelot, formerly Charleston, with his ambitious adviser John Calhoun. The cryptic expression "OK" is just becoming fashionable. Tensions are rising over the extent of slaveholding in the newly settled areas west of the moutains.

Into all this we inject Alvin, central character of the series, who goes by the name of Smith; it's not difficult to work out which historical character he is meant to remind us of. His dream is to build a Crystal City far into the west, and he has assembled an elect band of followers to help him. By the end of the book they are not much closer to fulfilling the dream; they have gained a new member of their circle, made deep changes to society in New England and Charleston/Camelot, and possibly tamed an enemy, but we're still left a bit in the dark as to where it's all going to end. Audubon and Balzac also make appearances. Light enough reading, and comes tolerably close to giving America a mythological interpretation of its own history.
Tags: bookblog 2005, writer: orson scott card
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