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Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies

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In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the tim In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the time for safe departure across the plains. By the time they left Florence, Nebraska, with still more than a thousand miles to go, it was near the end of August. As if that were not serious enough, President Brigham Young thought that the arrival of the third company ended the migration for that season and ordered the resupply wagons back to Salt Lake. Fire of the Covenant is the story of those handcart pioneers and their exodus to the Salt Lake Valley. Author Gerald N. Lund has used the same techniques present in The Work and the Glory series to blend fictional characters into the tapestry of actual historical events, making this a story filled with all the elements of great drama - tragedy, triumph, pathos, courage, sacrifice, surrender and faith.


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In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the tim In the summer of 1856, three companies of handcarts were outfitted and sent west from Iowa to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. All went well, and they arrived without undue incident. But two additional companies - one captained by James G. Willie, and the other by Edward Martin - left England late in the season. When they arrived at Iowa City, they were long past the time for safe departure across the plains. By the time they left Florence, Nebraska, with still more than a thousand miles to go, it was near the end of August. As if that were not serious enough, President Brigham Young thought that the arrival of the third company ended the migration for that season and ordered the resupply wagons back to Salt Lake. Fire of the Covenant is the story of those handcart pioneers and their exodus to the Salt Lake Valley. Author Gerald N. Lund has used the same techniques present in The Work and the Glory series to blend fictional characters into the tapestry of actual historical events, making this a story filled with all the elements of great drama - tragedy, triumph, pathos, courage, sacrifice, surrender and faith.

30 review for Fire of the Covenant: The Story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mommywest

    When Justin and I and our little family lived in Student Family Housing at BYU at the "turn of the century" :), we would often spend Sunday afternoons (and sometimes evenings) or vacation days reading LDS Church-themed/related books together. We took turns reading to each other, but usually I ended up reading the most. We read the entire Work and the Glory series and Children of the Promise series that way. After we finished those, we read this book together. By the time we started this book, Ju When Justin and I and our little family lived in Student Family Housing at BYU at the "turn of the century" :), we would often spend Sunday afternoons (and sometimes evenings) or vacation days reading LDS Church-themed/related books together. We took turns reading to each other, but usually I ended up reading the most. We read the entire Work and the Glory series and Children of the Promise series that way. After we finished those, we read this book together. By the time we started this book, Justin was in grad school and working full time in Salt Lake City, and our oldest daughter was getting old enough that we could only read in bits and snatches at night. It took us longer to get through it, and we were often both exhausted. I remember liking the book, but we read so infrequently that it didn't endear itself to us like other books we had read. I wanted to read this book again, partly because I'd just read Brother Lund's most recent book, The Undaunted, and it got me in the mood for more pioneer-type historical fiction. I also wanted to read it in more than just bits and snatches so I could get a good feel for it. Readers of Gerald Lund's books know that he is an impeccable researcher. You will learn so much about the time periods and events he is writing about, not only through the story, but through the extra notes and experiences he includes at the end of each chapter/end of the book. His descriptions really give the reader a feel for the characters and the places they live in or go to: what they look like, what kind of person they are, the environment they are in, the kind of day a certain experience occurred on. You feel a part of the book. However, many readers will also know that he tends to use the same kinds of phrases over and over to describe emotions and occurences (like "husky voice" to describe someone speaking with emotion, and so on). He also tends to have people who are separated for some time come back together in a "surprise unveiling," where the long-gone person is brought in by another character to the surprise and joy of the other characters, and the way he includes fictional characters in real historical happenings is a bit awkward sometimes. But if you can look past those quirks, you will enjoy his books very much. I found myself shedding tears many times as I felt the sufferings of the handcart companies, the angst and sacrifices of their eventual rescuers, and the strong faith exhibited by many people in the story. I also cheered for triumphs and accomplishments, and grieved for beloved characters who died. I am a "likener," I guess, and I took away so many things that could be applied in my life. Overall, this book is an excellent way to get to know the story of the Willie and Martin Handcart Companies, and it is also just a great story by itself.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Janette

    I reluctantly read this book before going on the 2007 pioneer trek to Martin's Cove. I was really worried that it would be extremely sad, and I didn't want to hear a lot of details about the suffering and death that I knew occurred. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the author was able to tell this story accurately, (using actual people and events, as well as fictional characters)… yet inspiringly. I’ll admit, It took about half of the book for me to really get into the story, but once I I reluctantly read this book before going on the 2007 pioneer trek to Martin's Cove. I was really worried that it would be extremely sad, and I didn't want to hear a lot of details about the suffering and death that I knew occurred. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the author was able to tell this story accurately, (using actual people and events, as well as fictional characters)… yet inspiringly. I’ll admit, It took about half of the book for me to really get into the story, but once I did, I could not put it down. The courage, faith and endurance of these pioneers are amazing to me, and their story is unforgettable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tanja

    "Come, come, ye saints" This song has been going through my head for the last week. I started this book forever ago (about 5 months). I will be honest and say it took me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I was hooked. And all I have done for the last week is read this 760 page book. I know a bit about the martin and willie handcart companies. I have ancestors that were apart of both companies and survived. I have read their journals and been to martin's cove. This only added to my expe "Come, come, ye saints" This song has been going through my head for the last week. I started this book forever ago (about 5 months). I will be honest and say it took me about 100 pages to get into the story. Then I was hooked. And all I have done for the last week is read this 760 page book. I know a bit about the martin and willie handcart companies. I have ancestors that were apart of both companies and survived. I have read their journals and been to martin's cove. This only added to my experience with the book. This is a story about the pioneers who pulled handcarts. They came late in the season and had terrible weather, no food, and many obstacles to overcome. If you don't know much about these pioneers than I suggest you find out. Lund does a good job showing many of the ways pioneers suffered and how they had joy along the trail. If you go back and study the history it was actually a lot harder than it was portrayed in the book. I have always felt more desperation when reading my families account of the experience, but most of the journals come from the Martin company and most of the book focuses on the Willie company. The best part of the book, in my opinion, is the chapter notes. You get little portions of the pioneers journals. I was astounded, as I always am, at the strength these people had. Could I have made it? No! Is it easy to look at the situation and criticize the fact that they came? Yes. But we would be wrong. One of my favorite quotes from a member of the martin handcart company- it is a response to criticism about the companies- Francis Webster: "I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about. Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved. Mistake to send the Handcart Company out so late in the season? Yes. But I was in that company and my wife.... I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up for I cannot pull the load through it. I have gone to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me! I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the Angels of God were there. Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Serena

    I'm really enjoying this book and trying brace myself for a good cry. I know how this story ends. It has been so good to hear the details of the preparation of these saints and to better understand their story. I'm really enjoying this book and trying brace myself for a good cry. I know how this story ends. It has been so good to hear the details of the preparation of these saints and to better understand their story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea McGee

    Loved this book! Strengthened my testimony of the power of God's work even more. Will read it again and again. Loved this book! Strengthened my testimony of the power of God's work even more. Will read it again and again.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Emma Barker

    Absolutely LOVED this book!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    Loved the story so much more than The Undaunted. We got right into it and met real people along with the fictional characters. Fyi the narrator is not my favorite. Reading this would be preferable to listening. The accents were terrible all around. If he had just done an American I would have loved it but his various European accents weren't even close. Loved the story so much more than The Undaunted. We got right into it and met real people along with the fictional characters. Fyi the narrator is not my favorite. Reading this would be preferable to listening. The accents were terrible all around. If he had just done an American I would have loved it but his various European accents weren't even close.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    I've been hearing a lot about the handcart pioneers lately, emigrants who came from Europe to join the Latter-day Saints in Zion, but who were too poor to afford the fees used in outfitting a wagon. So the LDS church organized handcart companies who would travel with a wagon and cross the plains on foot. Most pioneers had to travel on foot anyway, as it was too hot and too uncomfortable to ride in the wagon. But these Saints had to carry all their stuff in handcars which they themselves would pu I've been hearing a lot about the handcart pioneers lately, emigrants who came from Europe to join the Latter-day Saints in Zion, but who were too poor to afford the fees used in outfitting a wagon. So the LDS church organized handcart companies who would travel with a wagon and cross the plains on foot. Most pioneers had to travel on foot anyway, as it was too hot and too uncomfortable to ride in the wagon. But these Saints had to carry all their stuff in handcars which they themselves would push or pull - or both - halfway across the United States, from Iowa City to Salt Lake. Most of the companies did fine. But two companies, which were later known by the men in charge of each group, the Martin and Willie companies, arrived so late in the year that they faced a difficult choice. Find the funds to stay there in Iowa until spring or set off and gamble that they would beat the winter weather and arrive without problem. They took the gamble, and winter arrived too soon. This is told as non-fictional fiction, a style Lund uses often. He relies heavily on pioneer journals, oral history, and so on, and weaves in real historical figures along with his fictional families, one from Scotland, and two brothers from Norway. It is a long book, and I read that many readers had a hard time getting into the story. But I didn't have any trouble getting interested and found it to read quickly. Conditions on the trail went from mildly uncomfortable to totally miserable and were frequently fatal. Many did not survive this journey. The old, the ill, and young children were most likely to die, but even perfectly healthy people would just drop dead from hunger and exhaustion. Those who did survive often experienced injuries that would affect them the rest of their lives. But very few of the handcart pioneers complained later. Just yesterday I was driving through Sanpete county, where many of the Scandinavian pioneers were sent colonize after their arrival in Salt Lake. I had to wonder what they thought when they arrived in their rocky, mountainous, and rather inhospitable new home. Were they mainly disappointed? Or were they relieved to finally be in one place, where they could gather and worship, build homes, and know that they could stay put for a while? Or did they figure that any place was better than Rocky Ridge, where supplies were down to four ounces of flour a day for adults, no meat, no winter clothing, no shoes, and no shelter? Surely even the most meager home was a step up. And evidence is all around my home that they didn't sit around and complain, but rather got to work and made their new homes a success. This story combines a bit of romance along with all the hardships, which made it more fun to read. I honestly think that Lund pulled a few punches though, as the story could have been even grimmer than he tells it. But it was an inspiring and well written story. 4 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brynn Albrecht

    Fire of the Covenant is a book about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. Written as if they had walked together at the same time towards Zion, it shares details of the average “new converts” life. In some instances, the choice to leave a fiance, best friend, or even family members behind had to be made. Once decided, those who went made the tough journey. It often involved many weeks on a boat and months spent shivering. Sacrifices were, at times, extreme. The ultimate testing of faith hap Fire of the Covenant is a book about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. Written as if they had walked together at the same time towards Zion, it shares details of the average “new converts” life. In some instances, the choice to leave a fiance, best friend, or even family members behind had to be made. Once decided, those who went made the tough journey. It often involved many weeks on a boat and months spent shivering. Sacrifices were, at times, extreme. The ultimate testing of faith happened on these trails. Although tough, every person had the same basic background - All were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and had been commanded and instructed to make their way to Utah. During a time period of trial, physical expense, joy, and immense suffering, they painstakingly make their way to Salt Lake City, UT. The book helped me consider what it might have been like for me to be a pioneer. As a member of the LDS Church, I have ancestors who walked across the United States. It connected me with them, by showing me determination, human spirit, family relationships, and what it took to get this state started. Even for those not of the same faith, I encourage you to read it. It shows a great measure of Utah’s history. Many of the cities, towns, and counties were settled by early pioneers. Everyone experiences faith of some type, even if they are not religious. They have goals that they believe in, and work toward those goals. They will identify with these people, the same type of experiences we may see today. Although we may not have literal wolves trying to tear us apart, we have our own challenges equally as difficult. From the author of The Work and The Glory, Fire of the Covenant is a well written, gut wrenching novel. Experience love and romance, death, obedience, and happiness as you walk the trails with the saints. A well researched, good story line, and a major test of faith. I encourage all to read this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gwenda

    I haven't found much LDS fiction that I enjoyed, but this book was an absolute delight. As historical fiction, it used a lot of real people and settings. Guess what? I found several references to my great-great-grandfather Redick Newton Allred in this book! His nickname was "the bulldog" because he was tenacious about doing what the prophet asked him to do. He headed up the supply wagons that went out to rescue the two handcart companies in desperate situations. Since his provision wagons were l I haven't found much LDS fiction that I enjoyed, but this book was an absolute delight. As historical fiction, it used a lot of real people and settings. Guess what? I found several references to my great-great-grandfather Redick Newton Allred in this book! His nickname was "the bulldog" because he was tenacious about doing what the prophet asked him to do. He headed up the supply wagons that went out to rescue the two handcart companies in desperate situations. Since his provision wagons were loaded down with supplies, they took longer to travel. At a certain point in western Wyoming, he "hunkered down" with the provisions and waited until the handcart pioneers were found; then he brought the wagons forward to meet them. It was a long wait and most of his men gave up and went back to Salt Lake City, but he wouldn't give up. His story has also been told by President Eyring at least twice in conference. Makes me proud!!! Aside from that personal connection, this story really shows you how the pioneers who suffered in these companies felt. I can't relate to the incredible amount of physical suffering and scarcity they experienced. Not a bad book to read during Thanksgiving week!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Edwards

    The actual events and historical accounts were very interesting. I would rather have read a compilation of journals and factual information on the subject, akin to something Laura Hillenbrand would have written. Instead Lund created fictional characters and wove them into the story. While interesting, it was so cheesy that it was hard to take seriously. My favorite bad line of the book: "Dan Jones, cook for the company, provided excellent meals every day, but guilt was the sauce that flavored th The actual events and historical accounts were very interesting. I would rather have read a compilation of journals and factual information on the subject, akin to something Laura Hillenbrand would have written. Instead Lund created fictional characters and wove them into the story. While interesting, it was so cheesy that it was hard to take seriously. My favorite bad line of the book: "Dan Jones, cook for the company, provided excellent meals every day, but guilt was the sauce that flavored their food." (p. 549) Yes, I gained a greater understanding of what people in the handcart companies went through but it didn't inspire in me a greater feeling of faith. It actually just made me think that people are idiots. In the historical facts area of the book Brigham Young counseled companies to start no later than June 1st from Florence, Nebraska. The Willie company started out on July 15th. I'm betting that if they had adhered to that counsel in the first place they would not have had quite so many problems. So the actual people irritated me and the fictional writing wasn't much better. The book is a good conversation starter, though; People have a lot to say about it. But, like I said, I would rather read a historical representation of the event than a fictional one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    One good thing about being sick is it gave me a chance to finally finish this book! It was a long one!! (757 pages) It took a while for me to get into it.... There are several characters, fiction and non-fiction (since it is historical fiction). And, I didn't realize how long it took just for the emigrants to reach the starting point of the handcart part of their journey (let alone finish it!) For me, the more poignant a story-- the more I come to care about the characters, and watch them overcom One good thing about being sick is it gave me a chance to finally finish this book! It was a long one!! (757 pages) It took a while for me to get into it.... There are several characters, fiction and non-fiction (since it is historical fiction). And, I didn't realize how long it took just for the emigrants to reach the starting point of the handcart part of their journey (let alone finish it!) For me, the more poignant a story-- the more I come to care about the characters, and watch them overcome opposition, showing great courage and choosing good over evil-- the more meaningful it is. I learned a great deal about the handcart experience. I had heard most of the stories, and place names (Devil's Gate, Rocky Ridge, Martin's Cove), but none of it was real to me before. Now I understand so much better how these stories fell in the trek timeline, and why they stand out in pioneer history. With sons of my own, the account of the young men carrying the poor, sick, starved, overly-taxed saints across the freezing Sweetwater River was especially poignant for me. Getting through this book was a trek in and of itself, but reaching The Valley made it all worth it!!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tami

    This is a remarkable story! I must admit, I, myself, went through the accusations and questions of where was God in all this and why did these captains leave so late in the year, but Lund does a fantastic job helping the reader understand they had no choice in the matter and that God was with them all along the way. It deepens my respect and admiration for our early pioneers who sacrificed literally EVERYTHING for religious freedom and obedience to God's commands. I liked this book better than Lu This is a remarkable story! I must admit, I, myself, went through the accusations and questions of where was God in all this and why did these captains leave so late in the year, but Lund does a fantastic job helping the reader understand they had no choice in the matter and that God was with them all along the way. It deepens my respect and admiration for our early pioneers who sacrificed literally EVERYTHING for religious freedom and obedience to God's commands. I liked this book better than Lund's "Undaunted." I think there was a lot more time spent on actual events and people than his fictional characters. I think his fictional characters only enhanced the story. Lund does a great job using those characters to put the reader into the story and feel like one is sharing in the experience. I also loved how he included excerpts from actual pioneer's journals and expedition notes to help the reader learn the truth.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cristina

    It took me a little while to get into this book most likely because the size of the book deterred me just a bit; however, I ended up enjoying this book so much! Written about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies; the early pioneers (1856) and their struggles coming across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. It gave me much appreciation for not only what I have been blessed with in my life but also for the sacrifices that these people made to come to Zion. I originally began reading the book It took me a little while to get into this book most likely because the size of the book deterred me just a bit; however, I ended up enjoying this book so much! Written about the Martin and Willie Handcart companies; the early pioneers (1856) and their struggles coming across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. It gave me much appreciation for not only what I have been blessed with in my life but also for the sacrifices that these people made to come to Zion. I originally began reading the book to help prepare for a youth conference in my church in which we reenact pushing handcarts on a trek. I recommend this book to all who would like to hear more about the early pioneers and their sacrifices. It is a great book! Be ready to shed a few tears as well!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    This book was absolutely wonderful. Fictional families take you along the journey with them as they trek west from different parts of Europe. There are good times and bad times. There is laughter and sadness, romance and friendships. This book was amazing. I couldn't hardly put it down. Much of the descriptions of the times and trials come from real journal entries. The detail used enlightened me so much as to how this journey must have been. I love this book and would recommend it to everyone. This book was absolutely wonderful. Fictional families take you along the journey with them as they trek west from different parts of Europe. There are good times and bad times. There is laughter and sadness, romance and friendships. This book was amazing. I couldn't hardly put it down. Much of the descriptions of the times and trials come from real journal entries. The detail used enlightened me so much as to how this journey must have been. I love this book and would recommend it to everyone. "Come, Come Ye Saints, will never be heard again without the thoughts and images of these hardworking companies that endured so much with such a burning testimony to overcome all and come to Zion.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Hansen

    After a second reading I stand behind my five star rating. It is a powerful book filled with many remarkable stories and people. Lund has a wonderful talent for this genre; weaving fictional characters in with historic people and events in an engaging and believable manner. This will probably continue to be a book I return to on occasion to remember and be inspired by a group of people who had tremendous faith and displayed such unfailing courage, perseverance, patience and long-suffering. I lov After a second reading I stand behind my five star rating. It is a powerful book filled with many remarkable stories and people. Lund has a wonderful talent for this genre; weaving fictional characters in with historic people and events in an engaging and believable manner. This will probably continue to be a book I return to on occasion to remember and be inspired by a group of people who had tremendous faith and displayed such unfailing courage, perseverance, patience and long-suffering. I love these books which put so much of modern life in perspective when placed in contrast with the pioneers who came before us.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    It took me a long time to get through the 750+ pages because I was reading other books at the same time, but this story still had my attention and was one that caused a lot of reflection. Reading about their faith during such extreme challenges, their continual pressing forward when many would have given up, the service rendered by those who were also in need, and the miracles that occurred was not only heartbreaking, but also uplifting and encouraging. I found myself weeping over the pages, tea It took me a long time to get through the 750+ pages because I was reading other books at the same time, but this story still had my attention and was one that caused a lot of reflection. Reading about their faith during such extreme challenges, their continual pressing forward when many would have given up, the service rendered by those who were also in need, and the miracles that occurred was not only heartbreaking, but also uplifting and encouraging. I found myself weeping over the pages, tears of sorrow, tears of joy, and tears of gratitude. I found myself buoyed up, for if these people could face the trials they did, I can surely face those in my path.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    I read this book so long ago, but still remember how much I loved it. After watching the movie "17 Miracles" I got it out to read again. I also told all my kids they should read it too. Even though there is much tragedy that befalls these handcart companies, this book perfectly describes all of the many miracles that occurred. You truly can see how the Lord was mindful of them in their journey and how much more sadness would have happened if not for the Lord. My testimony grew and I was deeply t I read this book so long ago, but still remember how much I loved it. After watching the movie "17 Miracles" I got it out to read again. I also told all my kids they should read it too. Even though there is much tragedy that befalls these handcart companies, this book perfectly describes all of the many miracles that occurred. You truly can see how the Lord was mindful of them in their journey and how much more sadness would have happened if not for the Lord. My testimony grew and I was deeply touched reading this story. I would highly recommend to all!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Clint

    Gerald Lund isn't a masterful writer but his excellent and extensive knowledge of Church history paired with his basically good writing makes this series an enjoyable read. The greatest value in these books are how they allow you to experience the Martin & Willey handcart treks through the eyewitness account of a fictional family. Obviously some artistic license is taken when historical characters interact with fictional characters, but I think Mr. Lund did a great job of staying true to charact Gerald Lund isn't a masterful writer but his excellent and extensive knowledge of Church history paired with his basically good writing makes this series an enjoyable read. The greatest value in these books are how they allow you to experience the Martin & Willey handcart treks through the eyewitness account of a fictional family. Obviously some artistic license is taken when historical characters interact with fictional characters, but I think Mr. Lund did a great job of staying true to character in those cases.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Charly Troff (ReaderTurnedWriter)

    This is such an inspiring book. I have ancestors who were in the Martin handcart company and I am so grateful for all they sacrificed for me. Gerald Lund does his research. You learn so much not only from the story (which is cheesy but in a good way) but also from his chapter notes. I grew to love the characters and felt their heartache with them along the way, while being inspired by their faith and perseverance. If you are interested in learning about this time period or are looking for a fait This is such an inspiring book. I have ancestors who were in the Martin handcart company and I am so grateful for all they sacrificed for me. Gerald Lund does his research. You learn so much not only from the story (which is cheesy but in a good way) but also from his chapter notes. I grew to love the characters and felt their heartache with them along the way, while being inspired by their faith and perseverance. If you are interested in learning about this time period or are looking for a faith filled story, this is a great read. It's long, but it's worth it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mashell

    Just as good the second time through!!! I picked it up again because I felt the need for an inspirational read. It gave me exactly what I was hoping for. I couldn't put it down and found myself in awe at the commitment and sacrifice the early saints offered. I laughed and cried (many times)as I thought of my own ancesters crossing the plains and the determination they had to follow the counsel they were given. This is one of my all-time favorite books. Just as good the second time through!!! I picked it up again because I felt the need for an inspirational read. It gave me exactly what I was hoping for. I couldn't put it down and found myself in awe at the commitment and sacrifice the early saints offered. I laughed and cried (many times)as I thought of my own ancesters crossing the plains and the determination they had to follow the counsel they were given. This is one of my all-time favorite books.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    I originally read this book about seven years ago. Since I recently purchased it to add to my library, I decided to read it again. I was not disappointed! This book is about the Martin and Willie handcart companies. It has the ability to evoke several different emotions in the span of just a few pages. This book is worth reading over and over to help remind us what these people went through for religious freedom.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Chrystal

    Incredible journey! The faith and perseverance of the pioneers is so incredible to me! I cried a lot while reading this book - despite it being fictional - there was a lot of TRUE stories included and I can't imagine going through what they did. This book is truly awesome. I loved it! I'm inspired by all the sacrifice and suffering and enduring faith of these stalwart people. I am so happy to know I come from faithful pioneer heritage. Incredible journey! The faith and perseverance of the pioneers is so incredible to me! I cried a lot while reading this book - despite it being fictional - there was a lot of TRUE stories included and I can't imagine going through what they did. This book is truly awesome. I loved it! I'm inspired by all the sacrifice and suffering and enduring faith of these stalwart people. I am so happy to know I come from faithful pioneer heritage.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jerri

    I read this book when it first came out. I always knew the Willie and Martin Handcart companies had a tough time coming across the plains, but this book made me feel like I was there! I have a great-aunt that was part of the trek and hearing her story told in this book was heart wrenching to feel what those people went through.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

    Unbelievable! Lund is a master writer, so much history and emotion comes through in his words. At times I struggled to fight off tears and at other times I caught myself grinning and holding back chuckles. Amazingly well written and an emotional rollercoaster. I highly recommend this book to any and everybody.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gina

    I really enjoyed this book. It was great preparation for attending Trek with the youth at Martin's Cove last summer. I really appreciated the addendum at the back of every chapter that describes everything that was historically correct and anything that was the author's addition to make the story interesting. I really enjoyed this book. It was great preparation for attending Trek with the youth at Martin's Cove last summer. I really appreciated the addendum at the back of every chapter that describes everything that was historically correct and anything that was the author's addition to make the story interesting.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    Oh- this book is a rip-your-heart out. I think it was really hard to read all of the terrible things this group of people had to face. Read with a box of tissues.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Haley

    This is my favorite book ever! (tayli- it is even better than twilight so you should read it)

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is the only book to dehydrate me. I cried so much throughout reading it that I had to take a few days off to recuperate before finishing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I read this again after attending a Trek fireside for our ward. I love this story! Hearing the stories of the Willie and Martin Handcart pioneers is so powerful.

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