cover image Red Prophet

Red Prophet

Orson Scott Card. Tor Books, $17.95 (311pp) ISBN 978-0-312-93043-1

Card's fantasy series, ""Tales of Alvin Maker,'' got off to a delightful bang with Seventh Son, which introduced an alternate early America where folk magics such as healing and dowsing really work. A nation still inchoate, its independent states are a crazy quilt, some rebellious while others remain loyal to a variety of European countries, some repressive while others grant native American Indians citizenship. This second volume finds an exiled Napoleon in Detroit, dreaming of empire and glory while Governor William Henry Harrison is plotting his own future on the graves of red Americans. Between these forces are the native followers of two brothers, the warrior Ta-Kumsaw and the pacifist prophet of the title, Tenskwa-Tawa. With its preachy tone, tepid mysticism and forced coincidences, this sequel, though interesting, doesn't live up to its predecessor. Card recently won the Hugo Award two years in a row, the first time a novel (Ender's Game) and its sequel (Speaker for the Dead) have both taken top honors. (February 5)