Fourth in Card's alternate-world series (Prentice Alvin, 1989, etc.) where magic works (people have "knacks") and continental North America is divided among a small United States, English and Dutch colonies, New England, and inviolable Red territory beyond the Mizzipy River. The year is 1820. Alvin the Smith, having crafted a living, gold plow, has settled down to teach others the art of Making--his own brand of creative, holistic, sharing-caring magic; his constant companion is the former slave boy Arthur Stuart. Meanwhile, Alvin's envious, contemptuous brother, Calvin, sails for France, where he hopes to learn from the Emperor Napoleon how to rule the world. Later, in Hatrack River, Alvin is arrested, accused by his vindictive former master, Makepeace Smith, of stealing the gold that he used for the plow, and also of murdering a slave-finder sent to recapture young Arthur. Slowly a conspiracy with wide political implications is revealed, but helping Alvin will be brilliant English lawyer Verily Cooper (he has the knack of fitting things together, and fled England where "witchery" earns a death sentence) and "torch" Peggy Lamer (she can see possible futures, and her relationship with Alvin has blown hot and cold for years). Calvin, returning to the US, murders President Harrison, allowing Andrew Jackson to take over. After such a lengthy recess, Card hasn't quite managed to emulate the spontaneous charm and folksy appeal of the preceding volumes. Comes close, though.