Short Story Review: “Grinning Man”

“Grinning Man”
Tales of Alvin Maker series
By Orson Scott Card
Collected in Legends
Edited by Robert Silverberg

“Grinning Man” tells the tale of an encounter of Alvin Maker and his ward, Arthur Stuart, with the legendary Davy Crockett in an alternate version of American history. As Alvin and Arthur travel through eastern Kenituck, they meet a man and a bear grinning at each other. Alvin defuses the situation and he and Arthur travel on, eventually arriving at the small town of Westville.

They discover that Crockett has beaten them to the town and spread the rumor that Alvin is a thief. When Alvin finally convinces the townsfolk he is not a thief they are befriended by the local miller. Alvin and Arthur suspect the miller is cheating the people of the town, and Alvin leaves Arthur to figure out the details while he goes after Crockett and the bear.

Orson Scott Card is an excellent writer and the story was very well-written, but the style and setting were not exactly to my taste. The narrative style is obviously meant to give a slight feel of being on the frontier, but the style isn’t carried so far as to be annoying. I would recommend this story to anyone who is a fan of alternate history or Orson Scott Card, but hardcore fantasy fans will probably not get much out of it.

This review originally appeared 3 November 2012 on

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