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The Crystal City by Orson Scott Card

Cover art by Dennis Nolan

Published by Tor Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Even as Alvin grows closer to his purpose in life, attaining it seems steadily more difficult. And his worst enemies seem to be within his own family, as his brother Calvin, the not-quite-a-maker, seems determined to sow discord in every way possible.

Alvin in New Barcelona (our world's New Orleans) on a mission that may be able to prevent a disastrous civil war. But things get more complicated when his attempt to heal a sick woman instead sparks a plague. And it gets worse when Calvin shows up and makes a botch job of healing their host's lame foot, and has the temerity to blame it on Alvin's biracial brother-in-law Arthur Stewart, named for the king in the Crown Colonies.

Suddenly Alvin is leading a group of rag-tag refugees on a seemingly hopeless quest through the wilderness, one jump ahead of an army determined to force them back or to massacre them for their differences. And all the time a volcano is simmering in the heart of Mexico, stirred up by the blood-magic of the resurgent Aztecs, who sacrifice their victims to do their magical work.

In this sixth volume of a fantasy of an America that might have been, Card delves even deeper into some of the most divisive questions of American history. Yet he continues to hold forth a hope that things may yet work out for the good, if Alvin and his wife Margaret can see their way clear to the solution to the bleeding sores at the heart of American society.

Review posted December 15, 2008

Buy The Crystal City: The Tales of Alvin Maker, Volume VI from Amazon.com